Advocate for the marginalized wins Irwin Award
Family connection makes Tim Huff's win more special
By Robert White | Friday, June 24, 2011
Tim Huff addresses the Write! Canada writers' conference.
GUELPH, ON - A family connection to Grace Irwin makes winning the award named in her honour even more special for Tim Huff.
Huff, a tireless advocate for the misunderstood and marginalized, won the second annual Grace Irwin Award for his third book, Dancing With Dynamite: Celebrating Against the Odds, at the June 15 Canadian Christian Writing Awards gala.
The $5,000 prize, the country's largest literary award for writers who are Christian, is given “to encourage person's writing career, to help an already fine writer to the next level," says The Word Guild's Wendy Nelles.
The following day, Huff was slated as the first plenary speaker at this year's Write! Canada writers' conference - where he revealed a family connection to Irwin.
He asked Nelles to remind the gathered writers who Irwin was - “an icon in terms of Canadian writers who are Christian," said Nelles of the high school classics teacher and award-winning novelist - while he searched his Blackberry for a message.
The message Huff wanted was a response from his mother to his 1 a.m. announcement of the win.
“Grace Irwin was a very dear and special family friend," read Huff. “She went to the Baptist church I first grew up in and then the small group started by another church.
“All of her books are downstairs in my sectional bookcase near the TV and some of her books I have (are) signed."
The message also mentioned how Irwin taught with one of Huff's great-grandfathers and held Bible studies and choir at another great-grandparents' home.
“Isn't that remarkable," said Huff after reading the message. “Whoever wins it next year...I'd love to see you top that story."
Dancing With Dynamite also tied as the winner in the General Readership category. The co-winners were: Denis Shackel and Tara Bradacs for Five Seconds at a Time: How Leaders Can Make the Impossible Possible and Elaine Small for Priests in the Attic. Huff had previously won Canadian Christian Writing Awards for his books Bent Hope and The Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge: Helping Children Understand Homelessness.