Creative Activities

Shauntay Grant

Africville (Groundwood Books, 2018), Illustrated by Eva Campbell

Finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award, Young People's Literature - Illustrated Books

When a young girl visits the site of Africville, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the stories she’s heard from her family come to mind. She imagines what the community was once like —the brightly painted houses nestled into the hillside, the field where boys played football, the pond where all the kids went rafting, the bountiful fishing, the huge bonfires. Africville was a vibrant Black community for more than 150 years. But even though its residents paid municipal taxes, they lived without running water, sewers, paved roads and police, fire-truck and ambulance services. In the 1960s, city officials decided to demolish the community, moving people out in city dump trucks and relocating them in public housing. Today, Africville has been replaced by a park, where former residents and their families gather each summer to remember their community.

Cover of The Walking Bathroom by Shauntay Grant

Shauntay Grant

The Walking Bathroom (Nimbus Publishing Inc. and Vagrant Press, 2017)

It’s Halloween and Amayah doesn’t have a costume to wear to school. She dressed as a ghost for the last three years in a row, witches are overdone, and fairies are not her style. She wants to be something different, something creative, something no one else in the world has ever been in the history of Halloween.

A sweet story of standing out and fitting in, The Walking Bathroom is the newest book from award-winning author and spoken-word poet Shauntay Grant (Up Home). With fun, vibrant artwork from Erin Bennett Banks (Change of Heart), this imaginative tale is bound to inspire some unique costumes and become a Halloween favourite!

Cover of Plank's Law by Lesley Choyce

Lesley Choyce

Plank's Law (Orca Book Publishers, 2017)

Trevor has known since he was ten years old that he has Huntington's disease, but at sixteen he is informed that he has one year to live. One day while he's trying to figure stuff out, an old man named Plank finds him standing at a cliff by the ocean. It's the beginning of an odd but intriguing relationship. Both Trevor and Plank decide to live by Plank's Law, which is "just live." This means Trevor has to act on the things on his bucket list, like hanging out with real penguins, star in a science fiction movie and actually talk to Sara—the girl at the hospital who smiles at him.

With the aid of Plank and Sara, Trevor revises his bucket list to include more important things and takes charge of his illness and his life.

Cover of Penelope by Sue Goyette

Sue Goyette

Penelope (Gaspereau Press, 2017)

Penelope waits for Odysseus's return, so the story goes, but literary tradition tells us little about this act of waiting, an act every bit as epic as her husband's exploits. In this suite of poems, Sue Goyette steps into the disorienting world of Penelope's domestic upheaval, a world populated by a swarm of opportunistic suitors, a tempestuous teenage son, a goddess and sundry sentient objects and talking creatures. Written with a wit and a penchant for magic realism reminiscent of both Ocean and The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl, Goyette's Penelope chronicles the human qualities of waiting--grief, doubt, depression and anger, but also determination, strength and grace--as Penelope breaks her long silence and exclaims her own story.

Jon Tattrie

Daniel Paul: Mi'kmaq Elder (Pottersfield Press, 2017)

Born in a log cabin during a raging blizzard on Indian Brook Reserve in 1938, Mi’kmaw elder Daniel N. Paul rose to the top of a Canadian society that denied his people’s civilization. When he was named to the Order of Canada, his citation called him a “powerful and passionate advocate for social justice and the eradication of racial discrimination.” His landmark book We Were Not the Savages exposed the brutalities of the collision between European and Native American civilizations from a Mi’kmaq perspective.  Now, for the first time, here is the full story of his personal journey of transformation, a story that will inspire Canadians to recognize and respect their First Nations as equal and enlightened civilizations.

Cover of I Am What I Am Because You Are What You Are by Carole Glasser Langille

Carole Glasser Langille

I Am What I Am Because You Are What You Are (Gaspereau Press, 2016)

A collection of linked stories can closely approximate everyday experience, where repeat, intimate encounters might gradually uncover the private, inner lives of others, and the accumulated fragments of incidents and revelations might slowly unveil the context for the choices people have made. Through the authenticity and subtle interconnections of her characters, Carole Glasser Langille explores the nature of our relationships; what we conceal, what we reveal–and at what cost.

Cover of The Fortunate Brother by Donna Morrissey

Donna Morrissey

The Fortunate Brother (Viking, 2016)

Winner of the The Thomas Raddall Award for best fiction in Atlantic Canada, 2017.

Read Donna's article on Thomas Raddall's legacy here.

Cover of Notes from a Feminist Killjoy by Erin Wunker

Erin Wunker

Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life (2016, Bookthug)

Winner of the Atlantic Book Awards 2017, Margaret and John Savage First Book Award
Winner of the East Coast Literary Awards 2017, Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award

Following in the tradition of Sara Ahmed (the originator of the concept “feminist killjoy”), Wunker brings memoir, theory, literary criticism, pop culture, and feminist thinking together in this collection of essays that take up Ahmed’s project as a multi-faceted lens through which to read the world from a feminist point of view.

Neither totemic nor complete, the nonfiction essays that make up Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life attempt to think publicly about why we need feminism, and especially why we need the figure of the feminist killjoy, now. From the complicated practices of being a mother and a feminist, to building friendship amongst women as a community-building and community-sustaining project, to writing that addresses rape culture from the Canadian context and beyond, Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life invites the reader into a conversation about gender, feminism, and living in our inequitable world.

Cover of A Hero by Charlotte Mendel

Charlotte Mendel

A Hero (Inanna Publications, 2015)

Finalist, 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing (Fiction)
Finalist, 2016 International Book Awards Fiction - General

This novel delves into the complicated question of what constitutes a hero. Set in the turbulent background of the Arab Spring, each chapter in A Hero is told from the perspective of different members of one family. The conservative patriarch Mohammed believes in peace, education and prosperity, all of which the current dictatorship has given him. He scathingly attacks his young, idealistic brother-in-law Ahmed, who attends revolutionary protests at every opportunity. “Do you think you are a hero?” Mohammed sneers. “There are no heroes in this war.” Ahmed quietly replies that such situations create heroes, like the doctors setting up makeshift hospitals for the protestors despite the fact that they have no political affiliation, terrified that they themselves would be caught and tortured. Mohammed is consumed with anxiety that his home will be invaded and his family destroyed by the blind resistance of the protestors, who don’t seem to realize that the fall of the current dictator will result in chaos and probable massacre.

Cover of Into the Wasteland by Lesley Choyce

Lesley Choyce

Into the Wasteland (Red Deer Press, 2014)

Winner of the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature, 2017 Atlantic Book Awards.

"Dixon Carter wants to share his life manifesto. Don't worry — there won't be any violence. Dixon doesn't believe in violence. But Dixon is seeing things differently. He has gone off his meds — the drugs deaden him to the world. He is writing a daily journal from the point he stopped the meds.

There are times he is angry with the world and everyone in it. But then there are the times where he can see all the beauty, just like the Romantic poets. His girlfriend Sylvia and best friend Zeke are trying to help him on his journey.

But when the real world throws a tragic event in Dixon's path his struggles to save himself become darker and much more difficult and dangerous

Cover of The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl by Sue Goyette

Sue Goyette

The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl (Gaspereau Press, 2015)

"In 2006, a four-year-old Massachusetts girl died from prolonged exposure to a cocktail of drugs that a psychiatrist had prescribed to treat ADHD and bipolar disorder; her parents were convicted of her murder. In The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl, Sue Goyette strives to confront the senselessness of this story, answering logic’s failure to encompass the complexity of mental illness, poverty and child neglect (or that of our torn and tangled social ‘safety net’) with a mythopoetic, sideways use of image and language. Avoiding easy indignation, Goyette portrays the court proceedings’ usual suspects in unusual ways (the judge, the jury, the lawyers, the witnesses and the girl’s troubled parents), evokes the ghost of the girl, personifies poverty as a belligerent bully and offers an unexpected emblem of love and hope in a bear. Like the utterances of a Shakespearean fool, Goyette’s quirky, often counter-logical poems offer a more potent vision of reality than any documentary account, her eulogy for a girl society let down renewing the prospect for empathy and change."

Geordie Miller

Re:Union (Snare, 2014)

"Re:union takes an epistolary approach, exploring the relationships between literature, consumerism, and the individual through prose. The poems of this collection explore place, love, family, and culture, coming out in clots that are personal and affecting. The works are direct, directed, speak to a reader's many faces."

Cover of Limerence by Jon Tattrie

Jon Tattrie

Limerence (Pottersfield Press, 2015)

Can a man have it all? The warmth of a solid family and the challenges of a fruitful career? These questions lie at the heart of Limerence, a fun novel exploring the lives of two people seeking very different ways to be men. One’s a stay-at-home dad, the other a freewheeling libertine. Both struggle with addictions to limerence, that Leonard Cohen longing for something new that drives so many men to leave behind what’s good in pursuit of what seems better.

A car crash in southern Manitoba flings lives apart like planets ejected from the solar system. A man with no future staggers dazed from the wreckage and vanishes. A man with no past arrives in Halifax and creates a new life.

Cain Cohen denies he ever was Sam Stiller, but the past is catching up to his present. People who knew Sam insist he is the same person as Cain, but he rejects them, repeatedly insisting he’s not Stiller. Is he right? Or is he deliberately trying to shake off his old identity and assume a new one?

As the mystery unfolds, the novel probes deeper questions about manhood. Old ideas of how to be a man celebrate the stoic breadwinning father, but they’ve fallen out of our culture. Newer ideas, like taking time off to raise your children, barely make a dent. Men are left to explore the unmapped terrain alone, shaping the future without anyone noticing.

Drawing wisdom from the great Canadian poet Leonard Cohen, William Shakespeare and Steve Perry, Limerence dives deep into the new world of new men and asks: What does it mean to be a man?

Carole Glasser Langille

Church of the Exquisite Panic: The Ophelia Poems (Pedlar Press 2012)

"Using the quietly powerful and tragic character Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a touchstone for a sprawling collection of new poems, established poet Carole Glasser Langille has given readers her most refined and vital work to date."— The Coast




Rebecca Babcock

Every Second Weekend (Blaurock Press, 2011)

Nine linked and overlapping narratives in the voices of Liz and Katie, mother and daughter. We come to know Katie’s brother Michael, her feckless father, her half-brother Kent, in a family saga of tragedy and disappointment, of growing estrangement and isolation. As though mirroring this inner emotional landscape, the setting is a Canada of far distances, stunted forests, remote cabins, transitory accommodations. Both Katie and Liz must finally make choices about commitment, escape, desire and dignity. There are no easy answers in this austere tale, but a sense of the values of maturity and intelligence affirmed.