Recent News From and About WFNB

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  • 7 May 2019 8:50 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    The Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick announces the winners of its 2019 Writing Competition. A total of $2,600 in cash prizes to be presented at Awards Ceremony in Moncton on May 24, as part of WFNB’s annual WordSpring festival.

    The writing awards ceremony is one of several WordSpring events being held throughout the weekend at the Université de Moncton. The festival also offers writing workshops, readings by local and national authors, and book launches by WFNB members.

    The Literary Soirée Friday evening features a reception followed by the Award Ceremony where our 2019 Writing Competition Winners will read from their works and accept awards.

    Workshops begin Friday, May 26 evening with a session by marketing director and writer, Nathaniel G. Moore, on self-promotion for writers. Saturday workshops include Ann Douglas on understanding book contracts and contract negotiations, Lee Thompson on self-editing for writers, and in the afternoon, three Canadian presses lead a publisher’s panel on manuscript acquisitions and answer questions about how books get accepted for publication. Award-winning poet, Amanda Jernigan, will give an intensive poetry workshop and fantasy writer, Terry Armstrong, will offer a workshop on worldbuilding in fiction. A Blue Pencil Café follows on Sunday morning, where published authors critique work of emerging writers.

    The Federation’s action-packed, fun-filled weekend concludes May 26 with open mic readings.

    The festival is open to the public, but registration is required for all workshops To register, email For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit WFNB’s website at

    The following are the competition winners:

    Writing Competition Results

    David Adams Richards Prize (fiction manuscript)

    • First Place                    Richard Toth (Old Ridge, NB), What is Given, Like Baggage
    • Second Place                John Hanson (Saint John, NB), Drip by Drip
    • Third Place                   Jake Swan (Quispamsis, NB), In the Company of Carnivores

     Alfred G. Bailey Prize (poetry manuscript)

    • First Place                    Karen Davidson (Elgin, NB), Heavenly Blue
    • Second Place                Margo Wheaton (Halifax, NS), Rags of Night in Our Mouths
    • Third Place                   Emily Skov-Neilsen (Fredericton, NB), Meet Me at the Volta

    Douglas Kyle Memorial Prize (short fiction)

    • First Place                    Neil Sampson (Durham Bridge, NB), Did I Ever Get My Toast?
    • Second Place                Andrew Wallace (Rothesay, NB), Gripping the Ribs of Its Cage
    • Third Place                   James McClure (Saint John, NB), White Trash Pietà

    Dawn Watson Memorial Prize (single poem)

    • First Place                    Richard Toth (Old Ridge, NB), the war’s not over
    • Second Place                Mairi LaFrance (Canterbury, NB), Just in case
    • Third Place                   Bryn Harris (Grand Manan, NB), Oh Sweet Canad

    Fog Lit Books for Young People Prize

    • First Place                    Sara Sparks (St. George, NB), Ghost, the Bootlegger’s Horse
    • Second Place                Rachel Friars (Sussex, NB), A Dress of Ashes
    • Third Place                   Jennifer Shelby (Hopewell Hill, NB), Parachutes and Grappling Hooks

    PWAC-Southwest New Brunswick Narrative Non-Fiction Prize

    • First Place                    Gwen Martin (Yoho, NB), The Fragility of Bowls
    • Second Place                Trenton Pomeroy (Rothesay, NB), Windows
    • Third Place                   Eve Nash (Moncton, NB), More Than a Name

    Sheree Fitch Prize for Young Writers (age 13–18)

    • First Place                    Joshua Merrett (Saint John, NB), The Sea
    • Second Place                Natalie London (Saint John, NB), Happy Endings
    • Third Place                   Patrick MacDonald (Saint John, NB), Hey Charlie

  • 5 Apr 2019 8:55 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    (Artist Elaine Amyot in her studio. Photo credit: Marc Blanchard, )

    Submitted by Elizabeth Blanchard

    I was introduced to Elaine Amyot 18 years ago at a meeting of the Breach House Gang, a group of writers who met, and still do, every month in Nancy King Schofield’s studio on chemin La Brèche. It was during one of those Sunday afternoon gatherings that I remember Elaine reading from a draft of Les Pierres de Paris, a non-fiction piece about her childhood memories that would later go on to place in the WFNB Literary Competition. I was struck by the description of the “rose-coloured glass doors” of her mother’s bedroom; the fine lines of her mother’s vanity table; and the details of the mechanism that secured the lid to the “honey-coloured” box that held les Pierres de Paris, the kind of detail that, for most of us, goes unnoticed in the course of a day. Clearly, Elaine had recorded her memories with the care and aesthetic sensitivity of a visual artist.

    A visual artist whose work I had the privilege of writing about when Elaine later invited me to produce essays for her upcoming exhibitions, seven in all between 2008 and 2015.

    With her easy smile and keen sense of humour, Elaine was the warmest of hosts. We would sit at her kitchen table and spend the afternoon talking about her art over a cup of tea and something sweet. Extremely well-read, she carried with her a small notebook in which she transcribed passages from works that resonated with her, Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space among her favorites. Often, when discussing a particular piece, she would recite the lines of poetry that had inspired the work. Literature fueled her imagination and seemed a great source of joy; a passion she shared with Ed Lemond, her husband of 25 years.

    We talked at length about the different art forms she used to express her creativity. Whenever I asked about the significance of an object she had incorporated into one of her assemblages, she would speak not only of its lines, texture and symbolism, but also of its story. She’d recount the time, place, and circumstances by which the item came into her possession. And if the item had been given to her, she’d reflect on the thoughtfulness of the friend and the warmth of the gesture.

    Through our discussions, I came to appreciate and better understand Elaine’s profound respect for nature, an element ever-present in her work. We often visited her studio, which was housed in a small gabled-roof structure in her back yard. Among the canvases, the easels, and the recycled containers full of paintbrushes, she kept brittle stems of goldenrod, cattails stalks, large pinecones, and pieces of driftwood whose surfaces had been smoothed by the sea; “a work of nature, not of man,” she was quick to point out. Elaine explained that, with her art, she explored landscape as a reflection of our own internal nature. On one occasion, she retrieved a yellowed leaf that had been pressed between the pages of a heavy book, and pointed to how the fractal pattern of its veins repeated itself the length and width of the leaf at increasingly smaller scales. Where I would have probably seen only shape and color, Elaine saw the beauty and intelligence of expanding symmetry.

    I very much like the thought of the eternal in Elaine; I find it comforting.

    We will miss her dearly.

  • 13 Jan 2019 9:02 AM | Executive Director (Administrator)

    Submitted by Ed Lemond and Elaine Amyot

    I first met Michael Thorpe in April 2000 at the inaugural Frye Festival. I had taken on the job of inviting the English-language authors and I sought help in many corners to get the right authors and the  right mix. I asked Thea Borlase to give me a list of writers from New Brunswick she would suggest. At the top of her list were David Adams Richards, Michael Thorpe, and Elin Elgaard. They all happily agreed to attend.

    Michael read several times at the 2000 festival but the time I remember best was at a place called Au Deuxieme (no longer in existence). The production team had brought in a belly dancer for entertainment at intermission, and I wondered how the heck are the writers to come, including Michael, Marc Poirier, and Sue MacLeod from Halifax, going to follow such an act but they did, with aplomb. In Michael’s case he upstaged the belly dancer by reading a few of his well-crafted erotic poems.

    I had heard about Michael, of course, and his long battles with Mount Allison University’s administration. Students reported on his witty and erudite lectures and his sometimes strict grading system. His reputation as one of the founders and driving forces behind the WFNB was well established. What was new, when I got to know him a little, was his long record of publication, as a critic and a poet, and his wide experience, as a world traveller and a teacher in several different countries, mostly third world. We kept in touch and when his book The Unpleasant Subject: Sketches around Hitler, was published in 2001, we arranged for a launch in Moncton, at my bookstore, the Attic Owl. This was the first of several appearances at the Attic Owl over the next ten or twelve years. In 2006 he took part in an event at the bookstore to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We called it “Erotica Night” and again Michael stole the show.

    When he was in Moncton he would often come into the bookstore to ask for a book. Sometimes Elin would be with him, and I felt we were just getting to know her when suddenly we didn’t see or hear from either one of them for months. We learned that they had had a devastating fire at their house, which meant that they had to live somewhere else (in a hotel I believe) for much longer than they could bear. Not too long after this, Elin was diagnosed with lung cancer and she died December 11, 2008.

    Michael was lonely and depressed those first few months after Elin’s death and might have faded into nothingness had it not been for his children and his cats which he had to look after.We (my wife Elaine and I) gradually became very close to him in the years after Elin’s death. We were often at his house for supper and frequently accompanied him to a play at Live Bait Theatre in Sackville or sometimes at the  theater company in Parrsboro. (The best of these, at Live Bait, was “The Dresser” played brilliantly by Sandy Burnett.)

    In December 2011, at the Attic Owl, he read from his recently published book, Losing Elin, a very touching moment never to be forgotten by those in attendance. Michael published more than twenty books during his lifetime, including more than ten books of poetry and full-length critical studies of Siegfried Sassoon (1966) and Edmund Blunden, which are still benchmark studies. He published Doris Lessing’s Africa (in the early 1970s, as I remember), and once, much to our delight, loaned us the tapes of the lengthy interview he did with Lessing for the BBC.

    Eventually, Michael reconnected with an amazing woman (Jill Bentley), a painter, whom he had known long ago in England, before he left to see the world in the late 50s. Much as we were glad to see Michael happy again, we were sad when he and Jill decided that England was the best place for them to have a life together. We kept in touch by letter and postcard. I regret that we didn’t keep in touch these last few months, leading up to his death. We made the wrong assumption, that a man so alive, so interested in everything, so brilliant, would live another five years, easily. In a letter dated July 29, Jill had made it clear that his health was failing, the main or most worrisome manifestation being shortness of breath. But we chose not to see how dire was her warning.

    In his own letter to us, dated that same July 29, in his beautiful, tiny, sometimes illegible script (a scrawl he called it), the last full-length letter we received from him, Michael (who was almost completely deaf at this time) wrote “I read a lot – we both do, though Jill is the one who belongs to a reading group.” He mentions several books he’s been reading, including Ann Tyler’s Breathing Lessons (“with great pleasure as always”) and the novel The Fishermen by a young Nigerian whose name he can’t quite remember, which “brought back many memories from my years there in the early 60s.”

    I’ll go now, Michael, and try to find one or both of these books and search for what you saw in them that was so special.

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