— Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
Paul Whittle laughs when he’s called one of the province’s best “young and emerging” writers.
“Well … I’m emerging,” he says with a chuckle.
Whittle may have started writing later than others, taking it up while completing a degree in English literature, but he’s already accomplished: he has won Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters awards for poetry and prose; has been published in TickleAce and The Newfoundland Quarterly and was shortlisted for the 2009 CBC Literary Awards. He also made the shortlist for the Cuffer Prize twice, once in 2009 and again last year.
Wednesday afternoon he added another accolade to that list: he won the 2013 Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers, for his short story collection, “Everything is What it is.”
Whittle, of St. John’s, was chosen as a finalist for the award alongside Joshua Goudie, for his novel, “The Art of Dogs,” and Tracey Waddleton, for her collection of short stories, “Send More Tourists, the Last Ones Were Delicious.”
As winner, Whittle received $5,000 cash and $1,000 in professional editing services.
Goudie and Waddleton each received $1,000 cash.
The biennial award, presented by the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Literary Arts Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, was established in 2006.
“I’m excited and delighted,” Whittle, who works in marketing and communications at Memorial University, said afterwards. “I think it’s hard to judge any literary event, and taste is taste. I got lucky.”
This year’s jury for the award was comprised of writers Mike Heffernan, Paul Rowe and Lesleyanne Ryan, last year’s Fresh Fish Winner.
“There is much to admire in this collection,” the judges wrote in their citation. “There is a zen-like aspect to the stories, a less-is-more quality that opens up vast spaces between spare and singular moments, often rendered in spare and singular prose of understated elegance.”
Whittle says the stories in “Everything is What it is” are mainly Newfoundland stories.
“I wouldn’t say I could categorize them that simply, though,” he says. “There are also stories about all the normal things we find in short fiction: love, loss, just people making their way through these crazy things in life.”
Whittle says his next step is to hire an editor and work through the collection, with the goal of getting it published.