HANT’S HARBOUR, NL — A Newfoundland writer’s poetry collection is being recognized for the J.M. Abraham Poetry Award.
Alison Dyer has been a writer for many years, with experience in writing stories, freelance journalism and poetry. The England-born writer released her first collection of poems, titled “I’d Write the Sea like a Parlour Game,” in the spring of 2017. Now, she’s been added to the shortlist for the J.M. Abraham Poetry Award – a part of the Writers’ Association of Nova Scotia, and arguably one of the biggest poetry prizes in Atlantic Canada.
Dyer splits her time between St. John’s and Hant’s Harbour – the latter of which she considers her second home, and a major inspiration behind the poems in her book, which she described as heavily influenced by the natural beauty, as well as the homely ruggedness of Newfoundland. It was in Hant’s Harbour, where she’s owned a home for a number of years, that she was exposed to themes she’s relied on heavily for her poetry. It’s also in Hant’s Harbour where Dyer’s gardens are located – giving the community a vital role in her other career as an organic gardener. The community also serves as the setting for the opening poem in the collection.
The addition to the shortlist for the 2018 J.M. Abraham Poetry award is a humbling experience, Dyer explained, noting the years of writing, and life experiences, that have gone into the poems that fill the book’s pages.
“I started writing fiction many years ago, but I never really thought of going anywhere with it – the thought of actually being a writer had never really occurred to me. It wasn’t until my 40s that I actually showed anyone my work,” she said. “It seems like I started everything in my life a little late – I went to university later than most, became a mother later in life, and then the writing came, so it really does feel pretty amazing to be shortlisted for my work. It’s a great feeling to be recognized for something, no matter what point in my life it came at.”
After winning several awards for her fiction and non-fiction writing in the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters competition, Dyer went on to submit more and more of her work to various competitions. It was around this time that Dyer began to delve into poetry. With plenty of poems under her belt, she’s proud of the final product that is “I’d Write the Sea like a Parlour Game.”
The J.M. Abraham Poetry Award is an annual award presented to a writer, usually with a published collection coming from the previous year. Dyer’s work is published by Breakwater Books, who submitted her work to the Writers’ Association of Nova Scotia.
Dyer said that since releasing the collection in 2017, the reception she’s received has been nothing short of positive. She added that many have described the book as accessible, even to people who are not avid poetry readers.
“There is something of a theme to the poems,” Dyer said. “Many of them explore the natural world, and human interaction within it. It looks at themes of resilience, and the beauty of life in the margins – whether that’s physical, societal, or spiritual. That’s sort of the core of the collection. I think if anyone is interested in nature, or appreciates Newfoundland’s landscape, and the small beauties within it, then they’ll thoroughly enjoy the poems in there.”
Although Dyer is pleased with her work up to this point, she has no intention of leaving it here. Ideas for future poems and stories are always floating through her head, and now that she has this collection completed, her vision of one day compiling a collection of childrens poems is not as far off as it once seemed.
The J.M. Abraham Poetry Award will be presented at the 2018 Atlantic Book Awards & Festival May 2-10.
The main event will be at the Paul O’Regan Hall at the Halifax Central Library on May 10.
“It really is a cool experience, I must say,” said Dyer. “Newfoundland is kind of known for the literary arts, so this kind of opportunity, the represent the province – my home – with my work, is very exciting.”
Dyer’s book can be purchased locally at Chapters, Broken Books, and Breakwater Books, as well as online at www.Amazon.ca.