Announcement

Annual General Meeting: Registration & Reports

WFNS’s Annual General Meeting will take place via Zoom webinar on Monday, June 21, 7pm.

It’s been a very busy year for the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. This is your opportunity to meet our board, take a look at the books, and find out about everything we’ve been up during these pandemic times.

Over the past year, we’ve introduced the Maxine Tynes Nova Scotia Poetry Award, new programs like Coffee Chats, and innovative projects and events that test new ways to serve our membership and the general public. This winter, we offered our most ambitious slate of writing workshops ever as well as a wide array of online writers’ panels and readings. We’ll also be announcing a new prize and its associated endowment fund.

WFNS President Lorri Neilsen Glenn will conduct the meeting, which should take approximately 1 hour.

If you have not already registered, click below to receive your link to attend.

Once you have registered, please review the following documents in advance so you can follow along during the meeting.

  • 2021 WFNS AGM Agenda
  • 2020 WFNS AGM Minutes
  • 2021-2022 WFNS Operating Budget
  • 2020-2021 WFNS Financial Statements
  • 2020-2021 WFNS Annual Report

Call for Proposals: Anti-oppression workshop facilitator

This past summer, the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) issued a Statement of Solidarity with equity-seeking communities and all people who are engaged in the crucial and difficult work of both confronting and overcoming racism and injustice.

In this context, the WFNS is seeking a facilitator to deliver an anti-oppression training workshop to its members who offer presentations and workshops through WFNS’s Writers In The Schools (WITS) program.

Through WITS, visiting Nova Scotia writers provide presentations, workshops, and readings for students of every grade. The program encourages students’ enjoyment of reading and writing and engages them in the development of literacy skills. WITS is our most public educational outreach program, investing more than one quarter of our resources and much of our organizational energies.

The facilitator would deliver a two-hour interactive workshop in September 2021 to WITS writers via Zoom. This workshop would be repeated two to three times that month, depending on the number of participants and the maximum number for effective sessions, which will be determined in consultation with the facilitator. Approximately 40 to 60 WITS writers are expected to participate.

The facilitator must have experience delivering anti-oppression training and working on equity and diversity and inclusion initiatives. Providing practical advice pertaining to visiting school-aged children is expected.

How to submit a proposal: Please send your CV; a 100- to 150-word description of the type of workshop you propose to deliver; several references; and your proposed rate of pay for workshop development and delivery to Executive Director Marilyn Smulders at director@writers.ns.ca

Proposal deadline: July 30, 2021

New poetry award honours Maxine Tynes

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) is naming its new literary award in honour of the late writer Maxine Tynes.

The Maxine Tynes Nova Scotia Poetry Award will be awarded every other year for the best book of poetry written by a Nova Scotian writer. The inaugural award will be presented this year during the Atlantic Book Awards virtual gala on May 13.

Fundraising for the new award started in 2020, with $1,800 received by an anonymous donor. More than 75 individual WFNS members also contributed to the endowment fund for the award. When Dr. Afua Cooper won the Portia White Prize in November, she named the WFNS her protégé, boosting the fund by $7,000. Additional donations were received from the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute and the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union.

“I am thrilled to be part of the initiative established to recognize Maxine Tynes,” says Dr. Cooper. “This pioneering Nova Scotian poet, over several decades, delighted us with stories of thunder, rain, formidable women, moonshine, windswept shores, Black Africans arriving from the sea, and making life on rocky land and swampy soil, and of sweet love in the afternoon. Maxine Tynes is our own people’s poet, and we celebrate her.”

Maxine was a celebrated poet, teacher, and lifelong resident of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. A descendant of Black Loyalists, she drew on their rich and enduring heritage in her writing. Her poems explored her Blackness, feminism, and physical disability. Maxine contracted polio as a child, and complications brought on by the disease led to her death in 2011 at the age of 62.

She wrote four books of poetry, all published by Pottersfield Press. Her first, Borrowed Beauty (1987), announced her as a major new talent and received the Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Award, recognizing her as a People’s Poet of Canada. Her later books include Woman Talking Woman (1990) and The Door of My Heart (1993), as well as a collection of poetry for children, Save the World For Me (1991).

Maxine championed the search for Black Nova Scotian identity and community. “We are constantly looking for who we are,” she wrote in Borrowed Beauty. “So many signals have been lost historically and culturally along the way.” She was also known as a beloved English teacher at Cole Harbour High and Auburn Drive High schools, where she worked for a combined 31 years. For excellence in teaching, she received a Canada Medal from the Governor General in 1993.

The new Maxine Tynes Nova Scotia Poetry Award joins the four other literary awards administered by the WFNS, including the $25,000 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, the J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award, the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award, and the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature.

Photo of Maxine Tynes by Albert Lee.

Read more: “Maxine Tynes Prize Finalists Reflect on Her Legacy” by Evelyn White in Atlantic Books Today

Help us build the Second-Wave Relief Fund

So we’re all indoors once again — limiting our contact by staying home, waving hello to the computer at Zoom meetings, and planning for a quiet holiday season. COVID-19 and its lockdowns have been bearable for many of us but — as we all know — much more difficult for some of our fellow writers. Publishing dates have been delayed. Part-time jobs have dried up. And money for living expenses is running short.

This Giving Tuesday, the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is asking for help with our Second-Wave Relief Fund — newly established to help writers in precarious financial circumstances with immediate, non-deferrable living expenses, such as utility and phone bills, housing costs, groceries, and fuel. Beginning in January, 2021, the fund will provide applying writers with one-time disbursements of up to $250.

We have set aside some funds in the WFNS budget for this relief program — as well as for an annual assistance fund, which is still in development. We hope, with your donations, we can collectively help as many writers in need as possible. If you feel able at this time, please consider directly supporting our efforts. Whether $100, $50, or $20 — any amount will help, and any gift of $10 or more will qualify you for a charitable tax receipt.

If you are a writer in need of financial assistance, please keep an eye out for the launch of the Second-Wave Relief Fund in early January.

Yours Truly,

Lorri Neilsen Glenn
President
Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia 

Marilyn Smulders
Executive Director
Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia

WFNS Statement of Solidarity and Support

This below statement is permanently included in the “About Us” section of our website, where it will be regularly maintained and updated.

The board and staff of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia stand in solidarity with all people seeking justice in the face of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, police brutality, and white supremacy. 

As an organization, we are listening to Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized communities who continue to remind us the crucial and difficult work of both confronting and overcoming racism and injustice is ongoing and requires active engagement.

We grieve every life taken by white supremacy, racism, and police and community violence. We acknowledge that systemic and institutional racism continues to be responsible for the subjugation of Indigenous people, including those in Mi’kma’ki, the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq. Systemic and institutional racism has also been responsible for the oppression and destruction of Black communities such as Africville. We acknowledge the writers in these communities whose artistic works and contributions to anti-oppressive practices continue to lay the ground for work to come. 

We understand that literature has long been privileged as the art form of ideology. It is partly through the pen and the press that racist and oppressive ideologies have been systematized, aggressively promoted, normalized, and subtly reinforced. We support literature as a tool for challenging and decentering such ideologies and for organizing communities around better ideals and actions. 

We support those who speak out and engage in action to bring an end to systemic racism and white supremacy. The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia has an active role to play in this critical process of creating a more equitable future. To this end, we have outlined some strategies for our organization to undertake now and in the near future. 

Right now, we will 

  • build and strengthen current relationships with Black and Indigenous writers and organizations (such as the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute, and more)
  • amplify the voices of BIPOC authors on our website, through our social media, and in our newsletters
  • continue to recruit writers from diverse communities to join our board of directors, to contribute to our award and program adjudication, and to lead our creative writing workshops and professional development sessions

Moving forward, we will

  • coordinate anti-oppression training opportunities for our staff and board members
  • review and update our policies and protocols to ensure they embody anti-oppressive and anti-racist practices within our organization
  • revise and finalize an inclusion statement for all WFNS programming
  • treat this statement as a working document to be developed and adapted for permanent inclusion on our website (alongside our publicly available mandate, mission statement, and core values) so that we might be held accountable in our commitment to learning more, doing more, and remaining transparent about our actions

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is committed to being a catalyst for positive change in Nova Scotia’s arts community and the province as a whole, all the while acknowledging we have much to do in that regard. We will listen and we will learn. We will continue to work to amplify and celebrate marginalized voices.

The Writers’ Fed’s new face

I’m Kate Macintosh of Mblem Graphic Design, and I’ve taken over your WFNS blog in order to introduce you to the new face of the Writers’ Fed.

After several iterations and lots of feedback from board members and staff, the WFNS and I have come up with this clean and contemporary negative space logo in three versions:

What’s a negative space logo?

As you can see above, the actual letters are missing from the new WFNS logo. But you can still see them, right? The use of negative space allows the background to create a second image—making something out of the blank page, just like writers do every day. The coloured positive spaces also provide a secondary pleasure of abstract, floating shapes.

This multilayered logo marries the activity of writing with the visual nature of type to create a unique and ingenious mark that celebrates creativity, interpretation, and the search for meaning. It’s a logo with “subtext.” It’s the visual equivalent of critical thinking.

We’re singing the blues…

The blue palette of this new logo is a deliberate nod to the province your Writers’ Federation serves. Nova Scotia is embraced by the ocean, so we’ve started with the province’s official blue and added darker teals and lighter blues to reflect the changing tones of the sea. To us, these variations represent the diversity of Nova Scotia’s many communities and the rich variety of its ecosystems.

Stay tuned!

We’ve got the bug now! Moving onward and upward from this new logo, we will be updating WFNS signage, redesigning Subtext, and launching a brand new WFNS website this spring.

—Kate Macintosh, mblem.ca

Halifax Welcomes New Poet Laureate

On the morning of Tuesday, April 24, 2018, politicians, press, and arts organizers gathered at City Hall to welcome Halifax’s new poet laureate, Dr. Afua Cooper, a widely published author and the current James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University.

It was “a bittersweet day,” noted Elizabeth Taylor, Manager of Culture & Events for the Halifax Regional Municipality, as the crowd was gathered not just to welcome Dr. Cooper, but also to say good-bye to outgoing Poet Laureate Rebecca Thomas, who had served in the role from 2016-2018.

After opening remarks from Taylor, Mayor Mike Savage greeted the crowd with a few words of his own. Poetry, he reflected, is intended “not necessarily to please, but to take a stand,” a principle exemplified by previous HRM Poet Laureates such as Rebecca Thomas and El Jones.

The ceremony proceeded with words from Dr. Cooper, who thanked her family, as well as the members of the local Jamaican community, for their support. Dr. Cooper also referenced her grandmother’s influence on her life and career. Her grandmother, she shared, was not so interested in telling her grandchildren folktales, but in public history, “the factual things”, and was the inspiration for her career as a historian.

Before closing her remarks with a recitation of her poem “Negro Cemeteries,” Dr. Cooper also thanked her African ancestors. “They were not meant to survive,” she reflected, referencing the history of the slave trade in the Americas, “but here I am.”

The ceremony closed with a reading from Rebecca Thomas, who shared her poem “Footnotes,” which she said shared the hope “for all the things I care about.”

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is happy to share that later that day, Dr. Cooper stopped by our offices to renew her membership with the WFNS.

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