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25th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: Non-Fiction Finalists
Stephen Near

This is the second in a four part blog series showcasing the finalists of this year's 25th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. Find out which authors will take home the prizes by attending the gala celebration on Dec. 10, 2018 at Theatre Aquarius.

The finalists for this year's Non-fiction category are all examples of true and compelling tales matching that of any work of fiction. FromYardwork by Daniel Coleman, to The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann, and Beautiful Scars by Tom Wilson, these stories recount real-life with the elegance of poetry and confront readers with hidden chapters of the world around them.

In Yardwork, author Daniel Coleman searches for what it means to set down roots and establish a home. In his efforts to intimately connect and belong to a small piece of land, Coleman recounts how the working of a small patch of garden on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment would move him to understand the ecology, landscape and history of the region around him. Starting with the creation myths and geology and then moving through the settler era up to the present, Yardwork was also shortlisted for the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction. Daniel Coleman is a professor of English at McMaster University has been published in numerous volumes including Goose Lane Editions, University of Toronto Press, University of Alberta Press, and Wolsak & Wynn. His most recent course teachings have included Indigeneity and Diaspora, Framing CanLit, Critical Race Studies, Reading, Spirituality, and Cultural Politics, and Documenting Place.

In Joe Ollmann’s The Abominable Mr. Seabrook, the pro;office comic book illustrator and writer takes readers on a graphic biography of travel writer William Buehler Seabrook. Sea brook was an American hack writer and explorer who lead a daring yet destructive life. Participating in voodoo ceremonies, riding camels cross the Sahara desert, communing with cannibals and most notably, popularizing the term “zombie” in the West, Seabrook’s life was volatile and Ollmann spent seven years digging through fact and fiction. Often weaving in Seabrook’s own words and those of his biographers, Ollmann’s graphic novel presents readers with Seabrook the believer versus Seabrook the exploiter, and leaves us to question where one ends and the other begins. Joe Ollmann is the winner of the Doug Wright Award for Best Book in 2007 and loser of the same award many other times. He is the author of seven books including the graphic novels Mid-Life and Science Fiction and lives in Hamilton.

"I'm scared and scarred but I’ve survived”. In Beautiful Scars, famed Canadian musician Tom Wilson recounts his life and upbringing in the rough-and-tumble world of Hamilton. With a rare gift for storytelling and an astonishing story to tell, Wilson takes readers on a journey filled with World War 2 vets, Steeltown factory workers, and fall-guy wrestlers, with him carving a life for himself in shadows. Over the past three decades, Wilson has profoundly influenced the Canadian music landscape as part of the rock band Junkhouse, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, and LeE HARVeY OsMOND. But in Beautiful Scars, readers are shown a world beyond the typical rock and roll biography; where unflinching honesty and extraordinary compassion are necessary to Wilson’s ultimate search for the truth of his life. A veteran of the Canadian music scene, Wilson has been a writer and performer for years with an eclectic musical style ranging from psychobilly / R&B to western/roots to funk/blues inspired rock.

This year's Award for Non-Fiction is sponsored by:

Next: the finalists for Fiction