Hant’s Harbour in­spires New­found­land writ­ers’ po­etry col­lec­tion

Ali­son Dyer short­listed for ma­jor po­etry award

The Compass - - News - BY CHRIS LEWIS chris.lewis@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.


Ali­son Dyer has been writ­ing for a num­ber of years, with her po­etry col­lec­tion re­cently be­ing short­listed for the J.M Abra­ham Po­etry Award.

“I’d Write the Sea like a Par­lour Game” is Ali­son Dyer’s first po­etry col­lec­tion, and con­tains plenty of po­ems re­lat­ing to na­ture, and the nat­u­ral beauty of New­found­land. That in­cludes the Hant’s Harbour area, where Dyer can be found when not liv­ing in...

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