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Creative force

Memorial University professors, alumni lauded at N.L. Book Awards

Campus and Community

By Joshua Goudie

Writers N.L. has announced the 2023 Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards award winners.

Dr. Pam Hall (PhD’13), a former artist-in-residence at the Faculty of Medicine, and Jerry Evans (B.Ed.’92) are the winners of the Power Family Non-Fiction Award for Towards an Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge, Chapter III: Miawpukek – The Middle River.

It’s co-published by Memorial University Press and Breakwater Books.

Dr. Don McKay’s Lurch is the winner of the E.J. Pratt Family Poetry Award. Lurch is published by Penguin Random House Canada.

What makes this year’s list of winners and nominees remarkable is their numerous connections to Memorial University.

All seven nominated authors can be counted as former students or instructors, with a few doing double duty as both.

Memorial University writers

Author and E.J. Pratt Family Poetry Award nominee Michael Crummey (BA’87) taught in Memorial’s English department while serving as writer-in-residence, as did Dr. McKay.

Writer Andreae Callanan was also nominated in the poetry category.

Her book, The Debt, was written as part of her master’s degree in creative writing. It’s published by Biblioasis.

Andreae Callanan, a white woman in her mid 40s, wears a red shirt and holds a railing in an atrium with plants behind her.
Andreae Callanan is a 2023 E.J. Pratt Family Poetry Award nominee.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

In it, Ms. Callanan offers a portrait of moratorium-era St. John’s, before tourism commercials had folks flocking for selfies in front of jellybean-coloured row houses.

Ms. Callanan says she applied to complete her creative thesis at Memorial specifically to write the collection.

“A lot of readers who grew up in the same time and place I did have said that the poems in The Debt made them feel seen,” she said. “I don’t think I could ask for much more than that.”

Since her book’s publication, Ms. Callanan has remained with Memorial and is currently completing her PhD in English.

“I’m a better poet for having taught those classes.” — Andreae Callanan

She is also a regular instructor of both the introductory and advanced poetry-writing courses that are part of the English department’s Creative Writing Diploma Program.

“Having to demonstrate to students how to push their poems from the “poetic impulse” stage into fully formed, polished, technically accomplished pieces really helped me hone my own craft. I’m a better poet for having taught those classes.”

While open to writers on all levels of accomplishment, the English department’s creative writing courses are targeted to those who are serious about their craft.

The program offers students a unique opportunity to delve into various creative genres, including fiction, poetry, drama, screenwriting and creative non-fiction.

Non-fiction authors

Also up for grabs this year was the Power Family Non-Fiction Award.

Nominees include Kerri Cull, who holds a master’s degree in English from Memorial and is the author of Rock Paper Sex, Vol. 2 Trigger Warning, published by Breakwater Books.

Also shortlisted is Daniel Banoub, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Geography. Mr. Banoub, whose research and work focuses on the historical geography of resource extraction in Newfoundland and Labrador, has been nominated for his book, Fishing Measures. It’s published by Memorial University Press.

In it, he investigates the introduction of fisheries science to Newfoundland and Labrador’s salt fishery between the 1880s and 1930s.

Award-winning alumni

Memorial faculty, students and staff are routinely recognized with prestigious accolades.

Graduates of the English department’s creative writing programs and workshops have been notably successful at the Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards, with previous winners including Jessica Grant, Lisa Moore and Sharon Bala.

The E.J. Pratt Family Poetry Award was announced on Sept. 26, while the Power Family Non-Fiction Award was announced on Sept. 27.


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