If there’s anyone who should not suffer from imposter syndrome, it’s Megan Gail Coles.
A local playwright and author, she is much celebrated for her writing and her commentary, with two books to her name and a plethora of prestigious literary awards and nominations.
On Thursday, she won the 2019 BMO Winterset Award for “Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club,” and told The Telegram it’s even more meaningful to her than the last time she won the prize.
“I think receiving recognition and support from your own community is the most encouraging and important. Especially in Newfoundland and Labrador, where we are born weary of letting each other get too big for our boots,” explained the native of Savage Cove, on the Great Northern Peninsula. “I still, like many writers, suffer from bouts of imposter syndrome. I was actually quite afraid writing this novel. I was worried my intentions would be misunderstood. But I believed it was the right thing to do and so I wrote through fear and pain hoping against hope that it would resonate.”
Coles has previously said she wrote the novel, which centres around a cast of characters connected to a trendy St. John’s restaurant, with the goal of helping us face things we’ve long avoided in this province. Among them: sexism, racism and classism.
“Small Game Hunting” was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and earned Coles the Writers Trust of Canada 5x5 prize as well.
For the 2019 Winterset Award, Coles’ fellow finalists were Michael Crummey for “The Innocents” and Tshaukesh Elizabeth Penashue for “Nitinikiau Innusi: I Keep the Land Alive.”
“For me, it is a very special list, one that makes me most hopeful and proud,” Coles said, since she, Crummey and Penashue represent different lived experiences of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
“Our individual voices encompass diverse narratives exploring rural/urban, north/south, Indigenous/non-Indigenous, fiction/non-fiction, though we remain united as storytellers inspired by our home.
“I think the list exemplifies what it means to be from Newfoundland and Labrador, and I am so pleased to be a part of it.”
The BMO Winterset Award, which honours the memory of St. John’s-born social historian and author Sandra Fraser Gwyn, is administered by ArtsNL and is presented annually in celebration of excellence in Newfoundland and Labrador writing.
Coles’ novel was one of 32 books by local authors, either native-born or resident, that were submitted for consideration for the award this year by publishers from across Canada.
The award is usually presented during a ceremony at Government House, which was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As winner of this year’s prize, Coles receives $12,500, while Crummey and Penashue each receive $3,000.