The Defence wins the Voaden Prize

I’ve just learned that my play The Defence has won the Voaden Prize, a national playwriting competition. Part of the prize is a staged reading at the Kingston WritersFest, coming up on September 27th 2019. Hope to see you there!:

Kingston WritersFest and the Dan School of Drama and Music proudly present a staged reading of Damian Tarnopolsky’s The Defence, the winning play of the 2019 Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition. Join us for an exclusive first look at the winning play at Kingston WritersFest. Previous Voaden Prize winners include Jordan Tannahill for Late Company and Norman Yeung for Theory. This year’s best play, announced at KWF’s July launch, receives a prize of $15,000.

Friday September 27th, 2019 8pm:

Bellevue Room, Holiday Inn

2 Princess St

Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada

The Sparrow

I went to the launch of Albert Moritz's Selected Poems - he's a lovely, honourable man, a model of generosity and commitment to literature, and when he reads his work it's like Wallace Stevens just walked into the room.



most of all I envied birds when I saw them






Emma Goldman said

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."

In the absence of both, here are some Goodreads widgets.

Damian Tarnopolsky's books on Goodreads
Goya's Dog Goya's Dog
reviews: 6
ratings: 16 (avg rating 2.94)

Lanzmann and Other Stories Lanzmann and Other Stories
ratings: 1 (avg rating 3.00)

How to Write


Felix threw his fag-end into the water, it made a tiny hiss. In the harsh sea-light the whites of his eyes were soiled, and the skin around his eyes was taut, as if from a scorching, and scored with tiny wrinkles like cracks in a china glaze. The breeze brought me a waft of his breath, laden with the smell of smoke and the metallic tang of his bad teeth. I could smell his clothes too, with the sun on them, the shiny, pinstriped jacket with its prolapsed pockets and wilting lapels, the concertina trousers, the shoes like boats.

- from John Banville's novel Mefisto.

Describing characters is hard; this short sketch is brilliant. The details are precise and unusual - the whites of Felix's eyes are soiled, the skin around them taut - and a springboard for a leap into a doubling, somersaulting figurative comparison. When Banville moves from sight into another sense, smell, he does so in an active manner ("the breeze brought me a waft of his breath"), where saying it passively might be duller (*"I could smell his breath," say). Another reason this is so rich is that every line in the description takes on more than one job (it's Felix's breath that smells, but presenting it via the breeze reminds us that we're outside, on this walk by the sea). The word choices for Felix's clothes towards the end are vivid, odd, dreamlike and nightmarish too -- Felix's pockets are "prolapsed"? He's wearing "concertina" trousers? Figurative language takes us into other worlds. The whole thing, without saying a word about Felix's character, tells us everything about his personality.