Creator: Sylvia D. Hamilton
Nominator: Dorota Glowacka
Bound in a beautifully designed edition published by Gaspereau Press in 2014, these poems describe the settlement of African peoples in Nova Scotia. The author herself is a direct descendant of the free, self-liberated Black Refugees from the War of 1812. The narrative is focused through an intimate lens, with each speaker gifted with a distinct voice, magnified through devices such as lyric poetry, haiku, epistle, persona poems and poetic prose. Hamilton reinvents the genre of the “slave narrative” and creates a new language to describe African people who had been enslaved but who set themselves free rather than “being liberated.” Instead of calling them “runaways” she coined the term “Freedom Runners,” an expression now gaining currency among scholars.
The book has been incorporated into university and public school syllabi. The jury noted the work’s “powerful sense of agency,” achieved in part through the transformation of language.
Read more about the book here.