’ve never been to Atlantic Canada (a failing I sincerely hope to rectify someday), but there’s something about it that beckons. The natural landscape appears both picturesque and sublime, and the culture, a charming mix of old-world and new. Transplants from the region seem never to forget their roots, and proudly identify with the cultural traditions of their youth no matter the distance in years or kilometres.
In recognition of this unique and captivating region, let’s take a look at some of the best books from the PQL archive published by Atlantic Canadians.
Evidence is a collection of linked short stories by Halifax author Ian Colford. The stories are narrated by Kostandin Bitri, a refugee from Europe who seeks not only a new home in the West, but also an identity within his new society. Bitri is something of a study in contrasts, and his personality and history present a tantalizing riddle for readers.
Christopher Pratt is one of Newfoundland’s most famous painters. His crystal-clear style and hyper-real depictions of the land are imbued with memory and meaning. Thoughts on Driving to Venus provides a glimpse into the creative process of the talented artist by reproducing entries from his “Car Books,” diary-like entries documenting his trips across Newfoundland in search of inspiration. The result is a series of memories, impressions and reflections on Pratt’s homeland.
Grand Manan poet Wayne Clifford is a unparalleled sonneteer. The Exile’s Papers demonstrates his mastery of and experiments in the form, exploring topics of autobiography, fatherhood, existence and many more. This is the type of poetry that will get you thinking—and re-thinking—life, love and the stories we tell about ourselves.
In her debut short story collection, Nova Scotia poet Nicole Dixon presents sharp, witty, painfully human contemporary women as they discover what they want from sex, love and partnership. The female characters are challenged and changed by the circumstances they face and the people they meet, and the stories in High-Water Mark demonstrate razor-sharp insight into the real issues that women face.
While Margin of Interest is not yet published, there’s nothing wrong with starting to get a little excited about this unique project! Written by poet Shane Neilson, who grew up in New Brunswick, Margin of Interest considers the question “What is Maritime poetry?” The book examines past, current and emerging writers from the region and tackles a number of stigmas such as regionalism and vernacular. It is fitting, indeed, that such an examination should be undertaken by someone who is, himself, a Maritime poet. Coming soon, in March!
What did you think of this little selection of backlist books from Atlantic Canada? I hope I’ve introduced a little regional diversity into your literary diet today, and maybe inspired you to pick up a new book or two!