Congratulations to Lisa Bird-Wilson, who has been shortlisted for two Saskatchewan Book Awards for her recent poetry collection, The Red Files. Bird-Wilson is a finalist for the Rasmussen, Rasmussen & Charowsky Indigenous Peoples’ Writing Award and the Saskatchewan Arts Board Poetry Award.
The Red Files reflects on the legacy of the residential school system: the fragmentation of families and histories, with blows that resonate through the generations. The collection takes its name from the federal government’s complex organizational structure of residential schools’ archives, which are divided into “black files” and “red files.” In vignettes as clear as glass beads, her poems offer affection to generations of children whose presence within the historic record is ghostlike, anonymous and ephemeral.
Lisa Bird-Wilson is a Cree-Métis writer from Saskatchewan whose writing has appeared in a number of literary magazines and anthologies, including Grain, Prairie Fire, The Dalhousie Review, Geist, and Best Canadian Essays. She is the author of the novel Just Pretending, published by Coteau Books in 2013.
The Saskatchewan Book Awards is the only provincially-focused book award program and is the principal ambassador for Saskatchewan’s literary community, which includes more than 300 writers and 75 book publishers. Its solid reputation for celebrating artistic excellence in style is recognized nationally. The Saskatchewan Book Awards celebrates, promotes and rewards Saskatchewan authors and publishers worthy of recognition through 14 awards, granted on an annual or semi-annual basis. Awards will be presented at the 2017 Saskatchewan Book Awards Ceremony on Saturday, April 29, in Regina.
Congratulations to Raoul Fernandes, whose debut poetry collection, Transmitter and Receiver, has been shortlisted for the 2016 ReLit Award in the poetry category! The prize is awarded to the author of the best work of poetry published by an independent publisher in Canada.
Transmitter and Receiver is a masterful and carefully depicted exploration of one’s relationships with oneself, friends, memories, strangers and technology. The three parts of this collection are variations building on a theme—at times lonely, sometimes adoring, but always honest. Forthright and effortlessly lyrical, Fernandes builds each poem out of candor and insight, an addictive mix that reads like a favourite story and glitters with concealed meaning.
Raoul Fernandes has been writing poetry since childhood, and is involved in both online and offline writing communities. He completed the Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University in 2009. He was a finalist for the 2010 Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, and was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award as well as the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry. He was the 2016 winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the Late Night Library’s 2016 Debut-litzer Prize in Poetry. His poem “After Lydia” was recently adapted into a short film. He lives and writes in Vancouver, BC.
Longlists of 16 nominees each were presented in three categories: novel, poetry, and short fiction. The ReLit Awards, founded in 2000, are presented annually to books by Canadian authors, published by an independent Canadian press in the previous calendar year. Winners receive a handcrafted ReLit ring. For a complete list of nominees, please visit relitawards.com.
Excerpted fromShould Auld Acquaintance: Discovering the Woman Behind Robert Burns by Melanie Murray, available now.
It’s Race Week when men flock to Mauchline to race their horses from the Cross, up the steep road to Mossgiel and back. That night at Ronald’s ballroom next to the Black Horse Inn, it may have been Ian MacLauchlan—the best fiddler in the west of Scotland—playing for a penny a reel. He has the place hopping. In red tartan trews, fiddle tucked under his whiskered chin, he glides his bow over the strings as feet stomp and hands clap.
My father was a fiddler fine
My minnie she made manki-o,
An I’m myself, a thumpin quean
Wha danc’d the Reel o’ Stumpie-o.
On their toes, arms at their hips, across their chests, they skip and whirl. Even the stoutest matrons hop and spin around the room. Jean links arms with her partner, Robert Wilson. They’ve been walking out together for many months; though no promises have been made, she knows they’re forthcoming. Robin—as they call him—is leaving the next day for his apprenticeship as a weaver in the town of Paisley, thirty miles north. Once he’s shown that his prospects are sound, Jean is sure he’ll win her father’s approval.
A man, with a dog, prances into the middle of their set. A russet plaid draped over his white linen shirt in an unusual way; dark, wavy hair tied back at the nape of his neck with a black band of ribbon, two locks curling around his sideburns. He’s the only man in the parish to wear his hair like that. And the way he dances is different too. He leaps to the measure of the reel, looping and flinging with high-stepping abandon, his face glowing, brown eyes snapping. All the while, the black-and-white collie follows close at his heels.
Jean knows he’s the new tenant at Gavin Hamilton’s farm. She’s watched him swaggering down the village roads, a widebrimmed hat edging his thick black eyebrows, always a book tucked under his arm. Poet Burns has already given the gossips plenty to wag their tongues about. They say he writes scandalous verses; that he fathered a bastard wean with Lizzie Paton, his family’s servant girl, and was rebuked in the Tarbolton kirk as a fornicator. And, they say, he has no intentions of marrying Lizzie. His family thinks her too coarse, though they themselves are barely scratching out a living on their farm at Mossgiel.
A wide grin on his face, he twirls in front of Jean, arms waving above his head. But the collie trips up his fancy footwork. “Swith awa’, Luath,” he says, lightly booting the dog’s curling tail. “Wish I could find a lass who’d love me as well as my dog,” he chuckles.
“If you do,” Jean says, “then I hope you’ll be treating her better than your dog.”
He laughs and grabs the next lass opening her arms to him.