Wednesday, April 23, 2008



Yesterday four writers who are short-listed for a BC Book Prize read at the Library in Nelson. I almost didn't go, but as I was in Nelson anyway, and was about to head home to Castlegar around seven p.m., I decided to stick my head in and at least hear Rita Wong, one of the poets nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Prize for her collection, Forage. Of course, once there I was caught up in the readings of all four writers, and I came away with two of the four books (well, one I'd already bought that afternoon at Otter Books, Nelson's fine independent book store.

The four writers touring our part of the world are:

* Heather Burt: Adam’s Peak (Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize)
* David Jones: Baboon: A Novel (Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize)
* Meg Tilly: Porcupine (Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize)
* Rita Wong: Forage (Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize)

First to read was Rita Wong. Her poems illuminate and question the injustices born of mega-corporations and the political factions that drive them—or is it the other way around? From musings about the genetic modification of foods to riffs on endangered species like the caribou, the poems are cunningly presented, with notes written in a thought-jot sort of font in some of the margins.

Fellow readers David Jones, Heather Burt and Meg Tilly give her their full attention.

For her last poem, Rita enlisted the assistance of Meg.

Next up was David Jones, reading from Baboon, told in the voice of a boy who is involved in a plane crash and finds himself inside one.

Heather Burt read from Adam's Peak, which is up for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. She talked about her process, including how she traveled to Sri Lanka to research as her novel is partially set there.

Meg Tilly rounded out the evening reading from her young adult novel, Porcupine, taking on perfectly her protagonist, a twelve year old girl, from whose point of view and in whose voice the story is written.

The readings were followed by a Q & A session . I didn't do a count, but I'd guess around twenty people turned out, including several teachers.

And a few postings back (before the shortlist for the BC Book Prizes was announced) I said I hoped Gary Geddes' poetry book, Falsework, would make the cut. It didn't, but no doubt it factored into his receiving the fifth annual Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence. The award will be presented by BC's Lieutenant Governor, Steven Point, at the awards ceremony this Saturday in Vancouver.

Congratulations to all of you.

The full list of writers who are up for the various awards is here.


No comments: