Nearly 60 Newfoundlanders & Labradorians now have one more award to add to their bios, and a little more money in hand, thanks to the 2015 NL Arts and Letters Awards. The notable highlight this year is Sharon Bala’s name appearing as a winner in TWO categories (Short story and the Percy Janes 1st Novel Award).

The Arts and Letters awards are an annual celebration of local arts, across all disciplines, from scripts to songs, and books to the visual arts. There are categories for adults and youth alike, and this year alone, they doled out over $35,000 in prizes.

Senior Short Fiction:

Judged this year by Elisaeth de Mariaffi & Chad Pelley.
Award value $1000

Sharon BalaSt. John’sLord of the Manor
Bridget CanningSt. John’sColleen’s Birthday
Michael FinnSt. Bernard’s-Jacques FontaineThe Chimney
Karen RoweGanderBetween Then & Now

Junior Short Fiction:

Judged this year by Eva Crocker and Charis Cotter
Award value $350

Emma HaydenSt. John’sThe Pain of Survival
Maya Morton-NinomiyaSt. John’sThe Seed
Megan RandellLittle Burnt BayLet the Clock Reverse
Olivia BradburyUpper Island CovePrey
Grace KingSt. John’sStill Life No. 16
Melanie SlaneyBurinBallad of Brigitte Hertz
Danielle ThomasCarbonearRemember Me
Regan WilliamsHarbour GraceWhat Goes Around Comes Around

Adult Poetry:

Judged this year by George Murray & Mary Dalton.
Award value $1000

Randy DroverSt. John’sSheila’s Brush
Jacqueline HynesSt. John’sSome Functions of the Wind
Katie VautourSt. John’sThe Fisherman
Douglas Walbourne GoughCorner BrookSynesthetic Response

 

Junior Poetry:

Judged this year by Dana Evely & Grant Loveys.
Award value $350

Cole CurnewStephenville CrossingA Mission Overseas
Katie HardySt. John’sLoss
Liz WatermanSt. John’sWithstanding Toxicity
Megan PenneyMount PearlSupreme
Isabelle RicheSt. John’sFat
Julia RoseSt. John’sShattered
Breanna SheppardParadiseA (Once) Quiet Corner in Her Mind
Matthew WilliamsGanderWonderland

 

Percy Janes First Novel Award:

The Percy Janes First Novel Award is a $2,500 award for an unpublished manuscript by a writer who has yet to publish their first book. It’s become a proving ground or launching pad for local authors. Previous winners have included Joel Thomas Hynes, Sara Tilley, Patrick Warner, and Craig Francis Power. This year, adjudicator Trudy Morgan Cole chose Sharon Bala’s manuscript, Boat People. Publishers should take note of this name, that’s been popping up everywhere in the last 2 years, and now, in a rare — maybe unprecedented — display of her potential, she’s won TWO Arts & Letters awards in the same year: short fiction and the Percy Janes First Novel Award.

Is she excited about it? Hell yes. In her own words, “I’m pants-on-head, victory-lap-running, guzzling-back-champagne-by-the-bucketful excited! My entire existence as a writer thus far has primed me for rejection, especially form letter rejections in self addressed stamped envelopes. I do so treasure those. So the double win came as a massive surprise. I think I’m going to quit writing now. Take George Costanza’s advice and leave on a high note, etc. (Just kidding! What would I do without those form letter rejections?)”

her manuscript begins “off the coast of BC with the arrival of a cargo ship bearing 500 people fleeing the Sri Lankan civil war. The novel follows a widower named Mahindan and his six-year-old son as they navigate the morass of the immigration system and attempt to begin new lives in Canada.” She says she was inspired by the real-life stories of the MV Sun Sea and the Ocean Lady, two ships carrying Tamil refugees that arrived a few years ago. “The Harper Government acted with appalling malice, demonizing them as ‘terrorists’ (without a shred of proof) and suggesting that arrival by ship was ‘irregular’ and, therefore, suspect. Frankly, I became incensed! But rather than leave a flaming pile of dog shit on the door step at 24 Sussex, I wrote a book.”
As bala points out, Canada has a long history of sea arrivals and “illegal” migration: Japanese fishermen in the 1800s, the Vietnamese Boat People, Draft Dodgers, and the Underground Railroad. “I got interested in these successive waves of immigrants, in the different ways people are received, in war-time distrust and internment. The book is about identity and language, grief and belonging, it’s about racism and third culture children, and ultimately it’s a book about what it means to be Canadian.”

Senior French Literary Award:

This year’s winner of the $1000 Senior French Literary Award was Monica Plourde, or La Grand’terre, for her peice, “Exil.” It was judged by Michel Savard

Adult Dramatic Script:

Judged this year by Michael Chiasson.
Award value $1000

Megan Gail ColesSt. John’sFalling Trees
Justin SimmsSt. John’sNexus

 

Two powerhouses took home the awards for best script this year — Justin Simms, who is currently busy directing the latest local feature film here in town, Away from Everywhere, and Megan Gail Coles, who has been busy all year being shortlisted for literary awards for her book, Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome.

Theatre’s always been the main draw for Coles though, so it’s no surprise to see her name here. “FallingTrees” Part I of Coles’ Driftwood Trilogy, which she says “examines resource exploitation in Newfoundland and Labrador over the last century. It is set during the British appointed commission government. It focuses on a five men of various backgrounds; we meet two rural NL men in the lumber woods, two urban politically minded fellows in town, and one man who straddles both traveling between the two via rail, horseback and by foot. Simeon Dredge is cutting cords for the first time. Ambitious and young, he has no concept of what working in the woods will entail. Brother-in-law Albert Taylor is forever crushing Sim’s fantasies of fine wool coats and entrepreneurship with unwanted reality checks. ‘No one gets rich cutting wood.’ When word spreads that a Commission Government representative, Harold Jacobs, has been sent from St. John’s to investigate the notoriously poor conditions in the lumber camps, Albert fears that Sim’s naivete and ambition will cause him to speak out and forever be branded a troublemaker. Stewart Percy is also concerned with who’s saying what in the camps. The CEO of the island’s largest paper company is worried that Jacobs will stir up a rebellion amongst his labour force. Percy will not allow his family legacy to be threatened by an upstart politician and the great unwashed. He makes this understood in the office of British appointed Commissioner Wish Heart. The political lobbying and backroom bargains made in Falling Trees will set in motion a cycle of exploitation that threatens the fabric of a society for a century.”

Senior Non-fiction:

Judged this year by Nancy Earle
Award value $1000

Jiin KimSt. John’sCheater
Jim McEwenSt. John’sTakla Lake
Iain McCurdySt. John’sSkin

 

Senior Music:

Judged this year by Duane Andrews, Lisa McDonald and Bill Brennan
Award value $1000

Greg BruceSt. John’sPorchico (Gypsy Funk)
Glen CollinsSt. John’sCurry (world music)
Andrew NoseworthySt. John’sconcerto for Korg Monotrom(classical)
Rebecca SimmsMount PearlBud (contemporary classical)

 

Junior Music:

Judged this year by Duane Andrews, Lisa McDonald and Bill Brennan
Award value $350

Joseph CoffinParadiseLonely Road ( blues)
Maeve Collins-TobinSt. John’sDon’t Go  (pop)
Kat McLeveySt. John’sTell Me Once  (folk)
Luke TremblettSt. John’sJoin Everyone  (Alternative)

 

Kat is no stranger to the Arts & Letters, having won in previous years. “Tell Me Once,” is a song about “the concurrence of the past, present, and future in our daily lives and how when their balance is thrown off, we may need a little help to get us back on the bike, so to speak.”

,,,

Senior Visual Art:

Judged this year by John (Jay) Barry, Michael Pittman and Kym Greeley
Award value $1000

Kelly Jane BrutonSt. John’sExistence 2014textile
Richard FlemingCorner BrookGeometry 1metal
Rod HandConception Bay SouthRain on Window Panemixed media
Mike GoughSt. John’sThe IslandMixed on birch panel
Blake GosseStephenvilleThe Persistence of LossGliclée print
Kathleen KnowlingSt. John’sFour of MeMixed media
Christina ReesSt. John’sInvertedmixed media on linen
Jennifer Oille SinclairSt. John’sScene From the Museum 2014digital photography
Amber Lynn ThorneThornlea, Trinity BayFrom Aboveoil
Ellie YonovaSt. John’sOPUS #2309digital collage
Nicole LeDrew MayCorner BrookRainy Windshield View of a Wet Night on Bannermanoil on wood panel
Danny WoodrowMount PearlThe Modern Stumpacrylic/oil on board

 

Junior Visual Art:

Judged this year by Maria Mercerand Jason Wells
Award value $350

Jaspreet Kaur NijjarSt. John’sThe Colors of the Earthmixed media
Joshua MackSt. John’sA Collection of North American Animalsmixed media
Liz WatermanSt. John’sDecalage vers le rougecollage
Emily ClarkTorbayBreaking Connectionsmixed media
Charlotte HobdenSt. John’sRuns in the FamilyGraphite
Hayley MurphyTors CoveRhythm under the Seapen/ink
Erika StonehouseConception Bay SouthGuardian AngelOil on canvas
Madison WhitePortugal CoveEssenmixed media

 

The Overcast will provide more substantial coverage on the winners this week …