This year, for the first time ever, the Atlantic Book Awards ceremony will be held in Newfoundland.
Festival events started May 10. They will take place concurrently in all four Atlantic provinces and run until May 17.
Sharon King-Campbell is the Atlantic Book Awards Society’s St. John’s event co-ordinator for the weeklong celebration of Atlantic Canadian literature.
“This is the first time the ceremony itself has ever been outside of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia,” says King-Campbell. “There has been a steering committee in Newfoundland in past years to organize events, and they really wanted to bring it here. There’s been a move to make it more like the East Coast Music Awards in that the awards will go to each of the provinces on a cycle. So, this is the first attempt at that.”
There are 10 public events planned in St. John’s throughout the festival — including the Atlantic Book Awards ceremony, on May 17th at the LSPU Hall — where winners of both the Atlantic Book Awards and the Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards will be announced.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards are typically announced each May, but because the Atlantic Book Awards ceremony is taking place in Newfoundland, King-Campbell says it made sense to announce this year’s winners of the Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards at the same event.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards run on a two-year cycle, alternating between poetry and nonfiction one year, and fiction and children’s literature the next. Winners receive $1,500 and each runner-up receives $500.
The Bruneau Family Children’s/Young Adult Literature Award and the Ches Crosbie Barristers Fiction Award will be presented this year.
The nominees for The Bruneau Family Children’s/Young Adult Literature are Andy Jones, for “Jack and the Manger;” Susan M. MacDonald, for “Edge of Time” and Janet McNaughton, for “Dragon Seer’s Gift.”
The nominees for the Ches Crosbie Barristers Fiction Award are Gerard Collins, for his short story collection, “Moonlight Sketches;” Kevin Major, for his novel “New Under The Sun;” and Patrick Warner, for his novel, “double talk.”
“The Bruneau Family Children’s/Young Adult Literature nominees are all reading at an event at the A.C. Hunter Children’s Public Library at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 12th,” says King-Campbell. “And the Ches Crosbie Barristers Fiction nominees are all doing a reading at The Ship on Tuesday, May 15th, as is (the) tradition with the Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards.”
The Atlantic Book Awards are comprised of seven categories which recognize everything from the best in illustration to the best in first novels. Only one Newfoundland author, Trudy Morgan-Cole is nominated. Her novel “That Forgetful Shore” is up for an APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award, which acknowledges the author and the publisher — Breakwater Books, in Morgan-Cole’s case — together.
“This award is for both the publisher and the author,” says Morgan-Cole, who will be reading from “That Forgetful Shore” at Chinched Bistro Sunday at 7 p.m.
“It honours not just the words in the book, but the whole production of the book: how it’s designed, how it’s put together, and how it’s promoted. It’s kind of a weird award because the books can come from any category, and the three books this year are so diverse. I don’t know how judges will be able to choose between them.”
Also nominated in that category is “Salmon Country,” a nonfiction book published by Goose Lane Editions about New Brunswick’s rivers by Doug Underhill, and “Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada,” a nonfiction book about environmentalist efforts in Atlantic Canada by Chris Benjamin, and published by Nimbus Publishing.
Benjamin will be in St. John’s for a unique reading from his book at Afterwords Book Store on Wednesday, May 16th, at 2 p.m. Shannie Duff, the deputy mayor of St. John’s, will join him.
“Shannie Duff is in the book,” says Benjamin. “She was really involved in The Fluvarium and the walking trails around there. So she told me the story of how that came to be, and what the obstacles were, and how they raised the money and convinced people that it was a good idea.”
“I’ve done a few of these types of readings where I have someone from the book there who tells their story in their own words,” he adds. “Then I’ll do a bit of reading on related topics and then we have a question and answer period, which is usually a combination of people asking me about environmental policy and what it’s like to be an environmental journalist, and people asking me about making their homes more energy efficient. I’m less able to answer those questions.”
The Atlantic Book Awards & Festival opened Thursday night at the Crow’s Nest, with a special storytelling session led by Andy Jones.
For a complete list of the 2012 Atlantic Book Awards & Festival’s events and nominees, check their website at www.atlanticbookawards.ca.