Content of the article

A message from a friend tells how Jenna Butler learned that her latest book, Reverie: A Year of Bee, was a 2021 Governor General’s Literary Award finalist. But the timing was bittersweet for the Alberta author; the news came the day before her breast cancer surgery.

Advertising

Content of the article

“I think facing cancer and receiving this news in the same days has kept my head on my shoulders,” Butler said. “I celebrate and I am truly grateful. I can share the space with phenomenal writers.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards recognize the best Canadian writing in seven categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, theater, children’s literature – text, children’s literature – illustrated books and translation. This year’s winners will be announced on November 17th.

Butler’s book is a personal account of beekeeping on his organic farm near Barrhead and is a finalist in the Non-Fiction category. Butler and her husband moved to the area in 2006 to establish Larch Grove Farm. About five years ago, they started raising bees, which led her to write Revery.

Advertising

Content of the article

The book follows his beekeeping experience over the course of a year, exploring what bees mean for the farm and the ecosystem as a whole. It also discusses science and character, wild flowers versus introduced flowers and the impact of colony collapse disorder and the protection of natural environments for wild bees.

“In many ways keeping bees is kind of a natural part of deepening our relationship with the place here,” says Butler. “What I love so much about beekeeping is this mixture of science, folklore and ecology. If you plan to keep bees, you naturally gravitate in all of these directions; you become an amateur environmentalist.

Butler says they have also seen the impact of climate change on their bees. She and her husband have to wrap the beehives every winter to make sure they can survive. With longer periods of temperatures below -40 ° C, hives have a harder time surviving.

Advertising

Content of the article

In addition to her work as a writer and farmer, Butler also teaches creative writing at Red Deer College. She is currently on sick leave while waiting to start chemotherapy. Published by Wolsak & Wynn, Revery: A Year of Bees is Butler’s eighth book. You can find out more about her at jennabutler.com.

Jenna Butler holds her book Revery: A Year of Bees.  The book is a finalist for a Governor General's Literary Award.  The winners will be announced on November 17th on ggbooks.ca.
Jenna Butler holds her book Revery: A Year of Bees. The book is a finalist for a Governor General’s Literary Award. The winners will be announced on November 17th on ggbooks.ca. Supplied / Thomas Lock

Dr. Norma Dunning was also surprised by her nomination as a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards. The University of Alberta professor and author was giving her email one last check for the day when she saw a congratulatory message from a friend.

Nominated in the Fiction category, her book, Tainna: The Unseen Ones, Short Stories is a six-story series exploring the experiences of Inuit in southern Canada through powerful characters dealing with feelings of alienation, displacement and loneliness. .

Advertising

Content of the article

“People have all these different ideas about where Inuit should live and what they should be like,” says Dunning. “For me (being a finalist) validates my work a lot. You know, when you’re older and you’re an aboriginal writer, your visibility is pretty limited. To me, it’s like a validation of “You did a good job. “

This is not his first short story book. In 2017, she published Annie Muktuk and Other Stories, a book on contemporary Inuit life, which was translated into French this year. She also wrote Eskimo Pie: A Poetics of Inuit Identity, released in 2020.

Her fictional writing is consistent with her academic work, focusing on the Inuit experience in Canada. Dunning was responsible for the development of the Native Studies program at NorQuest College and currently teaches at the University of Alberta.

Advertising

Content of the article

“If I take a lived truth and put it into a fiction, people will be more willing to read it, more willing to think about it,” says Dunning. “Writing the truth as fiction is like a gateway, I hope, to the general public thinking about what the Inuit experience is like when we live in the south.

Dunning was also vice-president of Inuit Edmontonmiut, where she led the Edmonton Eskimos football team to change their name. The team announced in 2020 that they would be relinquishing the “Eskimos” title, and earlier this year they officially became known as the Edmonton Elks.

“I’m so glad it’s gone. This word, Eskimo, keeps us in the position of a long time ago, ”says Dunning. “It’s like we can’t go ahead or live life today. You’re supposed to be those people from a long time ago. But we are not.

Tainna: The Unseen Ones, Short Stories, was published by Douglas & McIntyre. To learn more about Tainna, visit the publisher’s site here.

The winners of the Governor General’s Literary Awards – announced on November 17 – will receive $ 25,000, while their publisher will receive $ 3,000 to promote the winning book. To learn more, visit ggbooks.ca.

[email protected]

Advertising

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a vibrant but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour of moderation before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread that you follow, or if a user that you follow comments. Check out our community guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.