KENNETCOOK, N.S. – In her “little house in the backwoods of Nova Scotia” Julia McCarthy created a book that has been shortlisted for a Governor General’s Award.
McCarthy’s book ‘All the Names Between’ is a finalist in the adult English poetry category.
“The announcement was made in the morning (Oct. 4) but I didn’t know until I checked my email,” she said. “I was very surprised. It’s an honour. It’s the oldest literary award in the country and it’s one I was aware of while growing up.”
McCarthy is originally from Toronto and lived in the U.S. and Norway before settling in Nova Scotia. She has worked as a potter and is now doing some fibrework, creating hooked mats and tapestries.
“Poetry has always been a calling for me,” she said. “There’s no money in it but I’ve never considered giving up on it. With everything else I did I had to ask myself, ‘Will this give me the flexibility and time I need to write?’
“I find I like the balance between writing and reading, ad something non-verbal and rhythmic. With hooking and tapestry it’s the language of colour and different forms and shapes.”
She is the author of two previous poetry collections: ‘Stormthrower’ and ‘Return from Erebus’ (winner of the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Award).
She said everything around her influences her writing, which she does most of in a small dormer room overlooking a field, orchard and forest.
“I live on six-and-a-half acres of forest and I can see the night sky. That’s very grounding. Nothing centres one like the stars and constellations.”
When she first moved to the area she often saw bats, which hibernated in a nearby cave, but the tiny animals have since disappeared. She recently visited the cave and found it empty and eerie.
“I think this set the tone for the book,” she said.
A launch for ‘All the Names Between’ will be held at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia offices, in Halifax, on Nov. 19 at 2 p.m.