Click here for submission information for this year's Awards. Deadline: November 1, 2016.


The East Coast Literary Awards celebrate and promote excellence in writing from Atlantic Canada. The number of titles submitted each year are a testament to the diversity and quality of writing from all four Atlantic provinces. And although jurors have the unenviable task of selecting one winner for each Award, each year's shortlists introduce local, national, and international readers to a tremendous body of work and the vibrant culture of the region.    

- The Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, valued at $25,000 for the winning book;
- The JM Abraham Poetry Award, valued at $2,000 for the winning book; and  
- The Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award, valued at $2,000 for the winning book.  

Eligible titles are adjudicated by an independent jury recruited and facilitated by WFNS. Submissions are evaluated for their originality, creativity, and quality of writing. One prize will be awarded annually to a winner for each Award. 

2016 East Coast Literary Award Winners

Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award 

Gary L. Saunders (NS)

My Life With Trees (Gaspereau Press)

Born in northeast Newfoundland to a family with deep roots in forestry, trapping, and guiding, Gary Saunders’ love of the natural world developed early and stayed with him throughout his life. Originally trained as a boots-on-the-ground forester, Saunders’ passion for painting and writing led him to also study the fine arts and to take a job writing and editing for the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests, producing newsletters and educational material for the general public. Later, as a freelance writer, his illustrated articles about trees and rural living would become a regular feature for over three decades in several regional magazines.

At heart, this book is an unconventional memoir. While organized by tree species like a reference book, Saunders’ essays actually impart equal parts natural and personal history. And like the best sylvan essayists of earlier generations (Thoreau, Leopold), Saunders draws greater truths about our relationship with nature–and with each other–out of what on first glance might appear to be recitals of botanical facts or yarns about adventures past. A close reading of this book promises not only to expand one’s understanding of the ecology of the forest, but also to offer a rich, evocative model for how we might better live our lives with trees.

Originally trained as a forester, Gary L. Saunders went on to study fine arts at Mount Allison University and the Ontario College of Art before taking a position with the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests extension program. Here, he honed his skills as an editor and writer. Saunders has been a frequent contributor to periodicals such as Atlantic Advocate, Rural Delivery, Atlantic Forestry Review and Saltscapes and is the author of numerous books, ranging from guidebooks (Trees of Nova Scotia and At a Glance: A Guide to Identifying and Managing Nova Scotia Hardwoods) to essays (Alder Music and September Christmas) to illustrated children’s books (The Brook and the Woodcutter). He lives in Clifton, Nova Scotia.

JM Abraham Poetry Award 



Sue Goyette (NS)

The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl (Gaspereau Press)

In 2006, a four-year-old Massachusetts girl died from prolonged exposure to a cocktail of drugs that a psychiatrist had prescribed to treat ADHD and bipolar disorder; her parents were convicted of her murder. In The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl, Sue Goyette strives to confront the senselessness of this story, answering logic’s failure to encompass the complexity of mental illness, poverty and child neglect (or that of our torn and tangled social ‘safety net’) with a mythopoetic, sideways use of image and language. Avoiding easy indignation, Goyette portrays the court proceedings’ usual suspects in unusual ways (the judge, the jury, the lawyers, the witnesses and the girl’s troubled parents), evokes the ghost of the girl, personifies poverty as a belligerent bully and offers an unexpected emblem of love and hope in a bear. Like the utterances of a Shakespearean fool, Goyette’s quirky, often counter-logical poems offer a more potent vision of reality than any documentary account, her eulogy for a girl society let down renewing the prospect for empathy and change.

Sue Goyette has published four collections of poetry, The True Names of Birds, Undone, Outskirts, and Ocean, which was a finalist for the 2014 Griffin Poetry Prize. She also published a novel, Lures, in 2002. She has won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, the JM Abraham Poetry Award, the CBC Literary Prize for Poetry, the Earle Birney Prize and the Bliss Carman Award. Goyette lives in Halifax where she teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University. 

Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award 

R.W. Gray (NB)

Entropic (NeWest)

In this collection of stories, author and filmmaker R.W. Gray  finds the place where the beautiful, the strange, and the surreal all meet — sometimes meshing harmoniously, sometimes colliding with terrible violence, launching his characters into a redefined reality.

A lovestruck man discovers the secret editing room where his girlfriend erases all her flaws; a massage artist finds that she has a gift, but is uncertain of the price; a beautiful man sets out to be done with beauty; and a gay couple meets what appear to be younger versions of themselves, learning that history can indeed repeat itself.

R.W. Gray’s poetry and prose have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. His first collection of short stories, Crisp, was published by NeWest Press. An award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter, he has had over ten short films produced. He lives in Fredericton, where he is a professor of film and screenwriting in the English Department at the University of New Brunswick.