Postcard Poem Contest winners

Congratulations to the winners of our inaugural Postcard Poem Contest!

1st: “Prayer” by Robert de la Chevotiere
     Robert de la Chevotiere is originally from the Caribbean and has called Nova Scotia home for the last twenty years. When not honing his craft as a fiction writer, he can be found in a high school classroom, teaching students the beauty of the French language.

Runner-up: “Barren Beach” by Christina McRae
     Christina McRae lives in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Her recent work appears in Arc, The New Quarterly, Windsor Review, and Understorey Magazine. Her first full-length collection, Next to Nothing, was published by Wolsak and Wynn.

Runner-up: “Median’s up-bunched, glut-hunchy tumult” by Matt Robinson
     Matt Robinson’s newest poetry collection is forthcoming from Gaspereau Press in fall, 2021. He lives in Halifax with his family.

Runner-up: “Undeniable” by David A. Wimsett
     David A. Wimsett’s characters examine themselves and their place in the world. He is the author of the novel Beyond the Shallow Bank and of The Carandir Saga, an epic fantasy series whose third volume, Covenant with the Dragons, will be released for Christmas of 2021. He lives in Nova Scotia, near the sea.

Congrats also to our remaining finalists: Jill Martin, Lisa McCabe, donalee Moulton, Sandra Phinney, Anthony Purdy, and Catherine Walker

Atlantic Book Awards 2021 shortlists

Shortlists for the 2021 Atlantic Book Awards have been announced! Congratulations to all of the shortlisted authors — and, in particular, to the fourteen authors shortlisted for WFNS’s five Atlantic Book Awards categories. The five shortlists below boast a number of acclaimed WFNS members, including the double-shortlisted shalan joudry. Click on a book cover for more details and to order directly from the publisher.

This year’s online Atlantic Book Festival (May 6 to 12) will culminate in a virtual Awards Gala (May 13), where the winners in each category will be announced.

Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature (YA)

Annaka by Andre Fenton (Nimbus Publishing)

Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan (Albert Whitman & Company)

The Grey Sisters by Jo Treggiari (Penguin Teen)

Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award

Blood in the Water: A True Story of Revenge in the Maritimes by Silver Donald Cameron (Viking Canada)

Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion by Tyler LeBlanc (Goose Lane Editions)

Before the Parade: A History of Halifax’s Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Communities, 1972-1984 by Rebecca Rose (Nimbus Publishing)

J. M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award

Black Matters by Afua Cooper, with photographs by Wilfried Raussert (Roseway Publishing)

Humanimus by David Huebert (Palimpsest Press)

Waking Ground by shalan joudry (Gaspereau Press)

Maxine Tynes Nova Scotia Poetry Award

Year of the Metal Rabbit by Tammy Armstrong (Gaspereau Press)

Burden by Douglas Burnet Smith (University of Regina Press)

Waking Ground by shalan joudry (Gaspereau Press)

Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

Some People’s Children by Bridget Canning (Breakwater Books Ltd.)

Dirty Birds by Morgan Murray (Breakwater Books Ltd.)

Speechless by Anne Simpson (Freehand Books)

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

Postcard Story Contest winners

Congratulations to the winners of our inaugural Postcard Story Contest!

1st: “The woman sitting beside me” by donalee Moulton

donalee Moulton is a professional writer. As a freelancer, she has published articles in online and print publications throughout North America. She is co-author of the book Celebrity Court Cases. donalee has also published short stories and poems in journals across Canada including The Dalhousie Gazette and The Antigonish Review.

2nd: “Roots and Ropes” by Leanne Schneider

Leanne Schneider was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. After moving away at the age of six, she returned to Yarmouth in 2000, where she now resides. She lives on a small horse farm in the country, with her family nearby. She has one daughter and a grandson, who are the light of her life. She has had an essay published in the magazine Dreamers Creative Writing, with another essay forthcoming in their online magazine. Both essays cover the topic of her life with what was stage III Breast Cancer and is now stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer.

3rd: “The Wolfman” by Charles “Gus” Doiron

Charles “Gus” Doiron has a collection of speculative fiction stories available at and is currently working on a novel.

Congrats also to our remaining finalists: Rhian Irene Calcott, Fiona Chin-Yee, Barbara Darby, Joanne Gallant, Rose Poirier, Jennifer Reichow, and Syr Ruus

Announcing the Atlantic Book Award finalists

The Atlantic Book Awards Society has announced the shortlists for the 13 different book prizes that make up the 2020 Atlantic Book Awards. The nominated titles represent a wide range of books from Atlantic Canada—everything from poetry to illustrated children’s books to adult fiction and non-fiction. 

There are five double award nominees on this year’s shortlist, including writer Terry Doyle for his debut novel DIG (Breakwater Books); activist/author Gemma Hickey for Almost Feral (Breakwater Books); acclaimed author Ami McKay for her non-fiction work Daughter of Family G:  A Memoir of Cancer Genes, Love and Fate (Knopf Canada); first-time novelist Amy Spurway for Crow (Goose Lane Editions); and former Halifax Poet Laureate Rebecca Thomas for the children’s book, I’m Finding My Talk (Nimbus Publishing).

The 2020 Atlantic Book Awards includes one of Canada’s biggest book prizes, the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, valued at $25,000. This year’s Raddall Award nominees are Halifax lawyer Jaime Burnet for her debut novel,  Crocuses Hatch from Snow (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint); Newfoundland’s Michael Crummey for The Innocents (Doubleday Canada); and Nova Scotia author and filmmaker Shandi Mitchell for The Waiting Hours (Viking Canada).

Twenty-five of the 39 nominations are for books published by Atlantic publishers. Nova Scotia’s Nimbus Publishing/Vagrant Press leads with eight shortlisted titles, while Newfoundland’s Breakwater Books has five, including two of the three nominated titles for the APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award. Other regional publishers are:  Running the Goat Books and ISER Books (NL); Gaspereau Press, Nevermore Press, Fernwood Publishing (NS); Island Studies Press (PEI); and Goose Lane Editions and Bouton D’or Acadie (NB).

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, the 2020 Atlantic Book Festival and awards gala, initially planned for this month, is now taking place online through the month of June, with the winners announced on June 30.   Details will be posted shortly at and through social media as they become available. 

The 2020 Pioneer Award, which will go to someone from Nova Scotia who has made a substantial contribution to the literary life of the region will be postponed until 2021, when it will be awarded in person. The 2021 awards gala is currently slated to take place on May 13 at Halifax Central Library.

The board of the non-profit Atlantic Book Awards Society is made up of representatives of the Atlantic Canadian book and writing community. The 2020 Atlantic Book Awards and Festival gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Book Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, Halifax Public Libraries and the sponsorship of Alliance Française Halifax and Chapters/Indigo/Coles.


1.  Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction

  • A Dark House and Other Stories by Ian Colford (Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint)
  • DIG by Terry Doyle(Breakwater Books)
  • Nosy White Woman by Martha Wilson(Biblioasis)

2.  Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature

  • EveryBody’s Different on EveryBody Street by Sheree Fitch(Nimbus Publishing)
  • A World Below by Wesley King(Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books)
  • I’m Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas(Nimbus Publishing)

3.  Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Best Atlantic-Published Book Award Sponsored by Friesens Corporation

  • Almost Feral by Gemma Hickey (Breakwater Books)
  • I Lost My Talk by Rita Joe and I’m Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas (companion books), illustrated by Pauline Young(Nimbus Publishing)
  • Land Beyond the Sea by Kevin Major(Breakwater Books)

4.  Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing, Sponsored by Marquis Book Printing

  • Shaped by Silence:  Stories from Inmates of the Good Shepherd Laundries and Reformatories by Rie Croll (ISER Books)
  • The Wake:  The Deadly Legacy of a Newfoundland Tsunami by Linden MacIntyre (HarperCollins Canada)
  • Truth and Conviction:  Donald Marshall Jr. and the Mi’kmaw Quest for Justice by L. Jane McMillan (UBC Press)

5.  Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing

  • Listening for the Dead Bells by Marian Bruce (Island Studies Press)
  • As British as the King:  Lunenburg County During the First World War by Gerald Hallowell(Nimbus Publishing)
  • Dangerous Enemy Sympathizers:  Canadian Internment Camp B, 1940-1945 by Andrew Theobald (Goose Lane Editions)

6.  Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award

  • Daughter of Family G:  A Memoir of Cancer Genes, Love and Fate by Ami McKay(Knopf Canada)
  • Mayann Francis: An Honourable Life by The Honourable Dr. Mayann Francis(Nimbus Publishing)
  • Hell and Damnation:  A Sinner’s Guide to Eternal Torment by Marq de Villiers(University of Regina Press)

7.  Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction), presented by Boyne Clarke LLP

  • The Difference by Marina Endicott(Knopf Canada)
  • Broken Symmetry by Rosalie Osmond(Nevermore Press)
  • Crow by Amy Spurway(Goose Lane Editions)

8.  J.M. Abraham Poetry Award

  • Year of the Metal Rabbit by Tammy Armstrong(Gaspereau Press)
  • Smallholding by Anne Compton(Fitzhenry and Whiteside)
  • Belated Bris of the Brainsick by Lucas Crawford(Nightwood Editions)

9.  Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration

  • Denise Gallagher, illustrator for Peg Bearskin:  A Traditional Newfoundland Tale, written by adapted by Andy Jones and Philip Dinn from a story told by Mrs. Elizabeth Brewer (Running the Goat Books)
  • Danielle Loranger, illustrator for Un géant dans la tête, written by Danielle Loranger (Bouton D’or Acadie)
  • Sydney Smith, illustrator, for Small in the City, written by Sydney Smith (Groundwood Books)

10.  Margaret and John Savage First Book Award – Non-Fiction, sponsored by Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, Weed Man Maritimes, Heritage House Law Office, I Love Renovations and Simply Sage Solutions

  • Almost Feral by Gemma Hickey (Breakwater Books)
  • Wounded Hearts:  Memories of the Halifax Protestant Orphans’ Home by Lois Legge(Nimbus Publishing)
  • Transplanted:  My Cystic Fibrosis Double-Lung Transplant Story by Allison Watson(Nimbus Publishing)

11.  Margaret and John Savage First Book Award – Fiction, sponsored by the family of John and Margaret Savage and Royden Trainor

  • DIG by Terry Doyle (Breakwater Books)
  • Going Dutch:  A Novel by James Gregor(Simon & Schuster)
  • Crow by Amy Spurway (Goose Lane Editions)

12.  Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award (Non-fiction), presented by the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth

  • Grandfather’s House:  Returning to Cape Breton by Clive Doucet(Nimbus Publishing)
  • Daughter of Family G:  A Memoir of Cancer Genes, Love and Fate by Ami McKay (Knopf Canada)
  • Ghosts Within:  Journeying Through PTSD by Garry Leech(Fernwood Publishing)

13.  Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

  • Crocuses Hatch from Snow by Jaime Burnet(Vagrant Press – a Nimbus imprint)
  • The Innocents by Michael Crummey(Doubleday Canada)
  • The Waiting Hours by Shandi Mitchell(Viking Canada)

Announcing the Nova Writes winners

This year, we received more than 80 entries of unpublished manuscripts for Nova Writes Competition for Unpublished Manuscripts in the categories of short fiction, short creative non-fiction, poetry, and writing for children and young adults. The competition is by blind entry, meaning that readers and judges do not know the identities of entrants. 

The beauty of this competition is the feedback given to entrants. A big thank you goes to our anonymous readers for the carefully considered feedback offered to each entrant and to the four judges, Elaine McCluskey, Evelyn White, Jenni Blackmore, and Genevieve Lehr. Thank you also to Annick MacAskill, WFNS Programming and Membership Officer, for coordinating the competition. 

Without further ado, here are the shortlists and winners for the 2020 edition of Nova Writes.

Budge Wilson Short Fiction Prize:


  • Nataliya Bukhanova, “The Lucky Guys”
  • Robert de la Chevotiere, “Mou-Mou”
  • Brad Donaldson, “Sinking”
  • Francene Gillis, “True Colours”
  • Jenny MacDougall, “The Guests at the Party”
  • Sydney Robichaud, “My Mother’s Hands”
  • Deborah Stiles, “Robbery” 
  • James Whidden, “Marsden Hartley”

The winner of the Budge Wilson Short Fiction Prize is Brad Donaldson for “Sinking.” Judge’s Citation: “The author has written, within the confines of a short story, a poignant account of love, tragedy, and human frailty. The details ring true and the writing is both controlled and touching. While the setting, a Nova Scotia fishing community is specific, the story speaks to universal themes such as loss and the power of place upon people.”

Judge: Elaine McCluskey

H.R. (Bill) Percy Short Creative Non-Fiction Prize:


  • Mary Dodd, “Quarry”
  • Beth Ann Knowles, “The Hwagae Bath House”
  • Nanci Lee, “The Primacy of the Individual”
  • Leonard Brent MacDonald, “The Door”
  • Dvora Trachtenberg, “My Mother Never Had a Wedding”

The winner of the H.R. (Bill) Percy Short Creative Non-Fiction Prize is Beth Ann Knowles for “The Hwagae Bath House.” Judge’s Citation: “A warm, well-paced, and beautifully crafted reflection on cultural risk and reward. The piece takes readers on a memorable journey with a perfect ending.” Judge: Evelyn White 

Joyce Barkhouse Young Adult Fiction Prize:


  • Emily Dodge, “Daughters of Morrigan”
  • JC Farquahar, “The Party Loop”
  • Jaime Horbul, “First Days of Summer”

The winner of the Joyce Barkhouse Young Adult Fiction Prize is Emily Dodge for “Daughters of Morrigan.” Judge’s citation: “Daughters of Morrigan is well paced, with truly believable characters who instantly draw the reader into their world, which is fraught with sibling rivalry. Subtle yet intriguing hints speak of darker happenings about to transpire and I suspect that this will be a read that’s hard to put down. Masterfully written, with what promises to be a tantalizing plat. Love it!” Judge: Jenni Blackmore 

Rita Joe Poetry Prize:


  • Cathy Jacob, “Evening Prayer”
  • donalee Moulton, “In Tact”
  • Margarate Schwartz, “Trial by Moon”
  • Pat Thomas, “Raven Spirit”

The winner of the Rita Joe Poetry Prize is Cathy Jacob for “Evening Prayer.”

Judge’s citation: “[These] poems are sincere, well-crafted, and reflect a depth of engagement with language. I was particularly moved by the poem “How wonderful” with its intimate and moving portrait of the loss of a loved one. The images are stunning, and I felt the poem speaking to me on a personal level, drawing me in with its quiet, dignified poignancy. Nothing gimmicky here. The image of the person “leaning skeletal on a stiff walker/in stained pants and the drooping white flag/of an untucked shirt;” is simply gorgeous.”

Judge: Genevieve Lehr

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