Nova Reads is a series of relaxed evening socials featuring Nova Scotia writers reading and discussing favourite passages by our province’s literary giants.
Nova Reads Charles Saunders
On May 19, 2021, remembrances of the late Charles Saunders and passages from his fiction and non-fiction works will be shared by David Woods (multidisciplinary artist and arts organization leader), George Elliott Clarke (Canada’s 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate), Judy Kavanagh (editor and Saunders’s Daily News colleague), Bill Turpin (managing editor of The Daily News), Milton Davis (author of 19 books of Black fantastic fiction), and Taaq Kirksey (television producer and developer of Saunders’s Imaro novel series for screen). Hosted by journalist Jon Tattrie (author of Peace by Chocolate) and held virtually via Zoom, this edition of Nova Reads was free to attend and was co-presented by Halifax Public Libraries and the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute.
Charles Saunders (1946 – 2020) was an African-American author and journalist who moved to Ontario in 1969 and then Nova Scotia in 1985. While a copyeditor and writer at Halifax’s The Daily News, where he worked for nearly two decades, Saunders penned numerous columns grappling with difficult racial issues, contributed to The Spirit of Africville (1992), and authored the book-length community profile Black and Bluenose (1999). Saunders also pioneered the “sword and soul” literary genre through his Imaro series of fantasy novels, begun in 1981. His fiction was groundbreaking not merely for its anti-colonial reimagining of figures like Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian but also for its worldbuilding centered on Black characters and cultures.
Nova Reads Elizabeth Bishop
On April 14, 2021, favourite passages from the work of Elizabeth Bishop were read by Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia members, including Brian Bartlett (prolific poet, essayist, nature writer, and editor); Virginia Konchan (author of three poetry collections, including Any God Will Do); Annick MacAskill (author of two collections, including Murmurations); Sam Sternberg (poet, librarian, and alum of the WFNS Poetry in Motion program); Margo Wheaton (author of The Unlit Path Behind the House and a poetry editor at The Dalhousie Review); and Rita Wilson (author of A Pocket of Time: The Poetic Childhood of Elizabeth Bishop). Held virtually via Zoom, the event was free to attend.
Nova Reads Budge Wilson
On April 9, 2019, favourite passages from the work of Budge Wilson were read by Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia members, including Budge Wilson herself. Award-winning author Jill MacLean (The Nine Lives of Travis Keating; Nix Minus One; The Beauty of Red) provided an introduction to Wilson’s work. Other readers include Lorri Neilsen Glenn (Following the River: Traces of Red River Women), Carol Mcdougall (director of the Read to Me program at the IWK Health Centre), Sarah Emsley (Jane Austen’s Philosophy of the Virtues), and Don Aker (The First Stone; The Fifth Rule; Running on Empty). Held at The Watch That Ends the Night, a Dartmouth restaurant and cocktail bar named after a novel by Hugh MacLennan, the event was free to attend.
Budge Wilson was born and educated in Nova Scotia, but spent many years in Ontario, returning home in 1989. She began writing later in life, after teaching and working as a commercial artist, as a photographer, and for over 20 years as a fitness instructor. Her first book appeared in 1984, and she has now published more than 33 (with 27 foreign editions in 14 languages) and appeared in more than 90 anthologies. Her most recent book, After Swissair (2016), is a poetry collection chronicling the aftermath of the crash of Swissair Flight 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia on September 2, 1998. Her books have been frequently read and dramatized on CBC, American, and Danish Radio. Wilson’s The Leaving received the ALA’s Notable Book Award and was listed among its Best Books for Young Adults; it was also named a Horn Book Fanfare Book, a School Library Journal’s Best Book (1992), one of the Library of Congress’s 100 Noteworthy Children’s Books (1992), a National Council of Teachers of English Notable Children’s Book (1993), one of NYPL’s Books for the Teen Age (1993), and one of ALA’s 75 Best Children’s Books of the Last 25 Years (1994). Wilson’s Before Green Gables has appeared in 11 countries and seven languages, been animated in Japanese, been recognized by Quill & Quire as one of the Best Books of 2008, and earned Budge Wilson the Atlantic Independent Booksellers’ Choice Award (2009).
Nova Reads Hugh MacLennan
On February 20, 2018, favourite passages from the work of Hugh MacLennan (1907-1990) were read by Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia members. Alexander MacLeod, writer and professor of English and Atlantic Canadian Studies at Saint Mary’s University, provided an introduction to MacLennan’s work. Held at The Watch That Ends the Night, a Dartmouth restaurant and cocktail bar named after a novel by MacLennan, the event was free to attend.
A novelist, essayist, and professor, the Glace Bay-born MacLennan is perhaps best known as “the first major English-speaking writer to attempt a portrayal of Canada’s national character,” according to the Canadian Encyclopedia. His books include Barometer Rising (1941), Two Solitudes (1945), Each Man’s Son (1951), The Watch That Ends the Night (1959), and Return of the Sphinx (1967), among others. A Rhodes scholar, MacLennan was recognized for his work with five Governor General’s Literary Awards, three for fiction and two for fiction. The Tragically Hip’s song “Courage” references MacLennan’s The Watch That Ends the Night: the song’s final verse paraphrases the novel’s closing lines.