Blog

New Brunswick Book Award

Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush has won the New Brunswick Book Award for Fiction! The other finalists in the fiction category were Roger Moore for Bistro and Riel Nason for All the Things We Leave Behind.

Atlantic Book Awards

Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush has been nominated for an Atlantic Book Award. I’ll be attending the festival in Halifax and at other locations in May, and will post more details when dates are clarified. Congratulations to all the nominees, especially fellow short fiction writer Kris Bertin!

New Brunswick Book Awards

Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush has been nominated for a New Brunswick Book Award! I’ll be attending the awards gala on May 24th in Fredericton. Details of the event can be found at the NB Book Awards website.

Malahat Review and Atlantic Books Today

Two new reviews of Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush have been posted online recently, one by Trevor Corkum at the Malahat Review, which you can read in full here, and one by Lee Thompson for Atlantic Books Today, which can be read in full here. Both reviews were written by excellent writers, and I’m really grateful for their insightful comments and close readings.

Throne Speech and National Magazine Awards

The National Magazine Awards committee has been keeping tabs on their previous winners and nominees, and included a brief piece on my work in their yearly round-up (posted below). It was also lovely to receive congratulations for my Governor General’s Award nomination from Jocelyne Roy Vienna, the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, in her throne speech in December.

Kerry-Lee Powell got nods from the three big literary awards this year for her debut collection of short stories, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush (Harper Avenue/Harper Collins)The east coast poet was longlisted for the Giller Prize and shortlisted for both the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction and GG’s Fiction awards. Back in 2011, Powell was a finalist at the NMAs for two poems, “The Lifeboat” and “The Emperor.” The poems — scrawled down one night in a harrowing stupor — were in response to her father’s post-WWII PTSD and ultimate suicide, and her own struggles with mental illness.

“One of the after-effects of working in a busy bar is that you never really leave. It could be four o’clock on a Sunday morning. The pigeons are ruffling their oily feathers on the windowsill and the bedroom pales to a washed indigo as you launch into the slow drift towards oblivion. But it’s no use. The insides of your eyelids burn with visions of Saturday night. It’s a scene from the Inferno. Red shapes beckon and bang their glasses on the bar. They reel into shadows and surge forward again, a many-headed monster throwing punches in the air. The only thing is to wait for them to disappear. Except they never do.”
— Kerry Lee Powell, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush

In addition to her debut collection of shorts, Powell has also written two poetry collections, Inheritance and The Wreckage.

Quill and Quire Essay

Quill and Quire commissioned me to write this personal essay about Alice Munro’s legacy for their Books of the Year issue. I’ve excerpted a passage below:

‘Her wide readership gives hope to writers more preoccupied with the grace notes and nuances of language than plot mechanics or the issue-driven grandeur that makes so many contemporary novels a hard slog. A close reading of her work is the best creative-writing lesson I ever had. Her prose has the depth and perfect pitch of poetry. She has a poet’s ear for the way words sound and work together. The ease with which she handles complex narratives is dazzling. I know of at least a dozen writers, none of whose work bears any superficial resemblance to hers or even to each other’s, but who nonetheless claim her as a significant influence. What inspires me most about Munro the writer is her persistence in trying to, in her own words, “account for the inexpressible.” Reading her, I get the sense that as an artist she is moving always into uncharted waters, fraught with potential danger and unsettling news about humanity.”

Indie Bookseller Book of the Year

David Worsley from Wordsworth Books in Waterloo chose Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush as a favourite title for 2016:

‘Whether set in the solitary existence within a tough high school, a strip club, or chronicling teens cast into the drudgery of the working world, Powell has an ear for dialogue and a command of place across the board. Reviews have quite rightly likened Powell to Alice Munro and it’s wonderful to see a first collection (after an award-winning volume of poetry) promise so much.”