Maxine Tynes
Nova Scotia Poetry Award

One prize ($1000) is awarded every two years for a book of poetry that was written by a full-time resident of Nova Scotia and published or distributed for the first time in Canada in the two years prior to the submission deadline.

The Nova Scotia Poetry Award was established in 2020 through the efforts of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia and poets from across the province, who raised funds to biennially honour the best book of poetry by a Nova Scotia writer. In 2021, the prize was named for poet Maxine Tynes (1949 – 2011) and received additional support from the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute, the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union, the Province of Nova Scotia’s African Nova Scotian Affairs, and Dalhousie University’s Department of English. The greatest benefactor of the prize was Dr. Afua Cooper, who generously donated the protégé portion of her 2020 Portia White Prize.

Submissions for the Maxine Tynes Nova Scotia Poetry Award will open again in 2022.

Past Recipients

2021 Winner

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

2021 Finalists

Burden by Douglas Burnet Smith (University of Regina Press)

Waking Ground by shalan joudry (Gaspereau Press)

Meet Maxine Tynes

Photo by Albert Lee

Maxine Tynes 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.

“I am Maxine Tynes. I am a woman. I am Black. I am a poet. Four basic truths. None chosen. All joyful in my life.”
—from “I Am a Poet” in Save the World for Me (1991)

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than two years and/or have not yet been published in any form.
  • Emerging writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than five years and/or have some short publications (poems, stories, or essays) in literary magazines, journals, or anthologies.
  • Established writers/authors: those with numerous publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies and/or a full-length book publication.
  • Professional authors: those with two or more full-length book publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer (that is, participant-to-participant) feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at