• 24th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: Fiction Finalists

    November 17, 2017 by Stephen Near

    This is the third in a four part blog series showcasing the finalists of this year's 24th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. Find out which authors will take home the prizes by attending the gala celebration on Nov. 27, 2017 at Theatre Aquarius.

    From a compelling story of loss and renewal, to a historical fable for young adults, to a magical tale of the fae, and a satiric journey across the oceans, the books in our 2017 Fiction shortlist offer a diversity of voices and wildly approaches to storytelling. Each of these stories represents Hamilton storytelling that is both unique and engaging.

    Freedom's Just Another Word is Caroline Stellings’ tale of Easy, a car mechanic in Saskatoon who can sing the blues like someone twice her age. When she hears that Janis Joplin is passing through her small town, Easy is there with her heart - and her voice - in hand. It’s 1970 and Janis Joplin is an electrifying blues-rock singer at the height of her fame – and of her addictions. Yet she recognizes Easy’s talent and asks her to meet her in Texas to sing. So Easy begins an unusual journey that will change everything. Caroline Stellings is an award-winning author and illustrator of numerous books for children and young adults, including The Contest and the Nicki Haddon Mystery Series. She has been nominated for many prizes and has won both the ForeWord Book of the Year and the Hamilton Literary Award for Fiction. She lives in Waterdown, ON.

    Set in the years around 1492, Yiddish for Pirates recounts the compelling story of Moishe, a Bar Mitzvah boy who leaves home to join a ship's crew, where he meets Aaron, the polyglot parrot who becomes his near-constant companion. From a present-day Florida nursing home, this wisecracking yet poetic bird guides us through a world of pirate ships, Yiddish jokes and treasure maps. Rich with puns, colourful language, post-colonial satire and Kabbalistic hijinks, Yiddish for Pirates is also a compelling examination of mortality, memory, identity and persecution from one of this country's most talented writers. Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, and multimedia artist, and the author of 20 books of poetry, fiction and books for children. He has been Writer-in-Residence at Western University and Young Voices eWriter-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library and has taught creative writing at a number of colleges and universities. 

    In Saints, Unexpected, author Brent van Staalduinen makes his debut in a magical tale about fifteen-year-old Mutton. Robbed at gunpoint while working in her mother's Hamilton thrift store, she loses a valuable item thus hurling herself and her family into a summer of remarkable and heartbreaking events. From fighting unscrupulous developers to first loves to the anguish that comes from never knowing what your final words to a loved one might be, Saints, Unexpected reminds us of the magic that comes with each opportunity to begin again. Brent van Staalduinen lives, works, and writes in Hamilton. He is the recipient of both the 2015 Bristol Short Story Prize and the 2015 Short Works Prize, his work appears in The Sycamore Review, The Bristol Prize Short Story Anthology 8, EVENT Magazine, The Dalhousie Review, The New Quarterly, and The New Guard Literary Review. A graduate of the Humber School of Writers, he also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and teaches writing at Redeemer University College.

    In The Captain of Kinnoull Hill, Jamie Tennant presents us with Dennis Duckworth, philanderer, misanthrope, and the least-likeable person on the Chicago music scene. When a routine flight from New York mysteriously alters its path, he finds himself penniless and stranded on a wooded hillside in rural Scotland. The hill is home to Eddie the Red Cap, a curmudgeonly, thousand-year-old goblin who secretly loves books and regrets the violent past of his people. Filled with absurdity, magic, humour and hope,  Tennant’s book asks what happens when we can no longer abide our own nature. How much can we truly change about ourselves and — in the end — is it worth it to try? Jamie Tennant is a writer and radio program director based in Hamilton, ON. A long-time music enthusiast, he has covered music and pop culture is the Program Director at 93.3 CFMU at McMaster University and was co-founder of the Hamilton Independent Media Awards. The Captain of Kinnoull Hill is his debut novel.

    This year's Award for Fiction is sponsored by:

    Next: the finalists for the Kerry Schooley Award


  • 24th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: Non-Fiction Finalists

    November 13, 2017 by Stephen Near

    This is the second in a four part blog series showcasing the finalists of this year's 24th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. Find out which authors will take home the prizes by attending the gala celebration on November 27, 2017 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. From People and the Bay by Nancy Bouchier and Ken Cruikshank, to Nobody Here Will Harm You by Shawn Selway, and Evenings and Weekends by Andrew Baulcomb, these stories recount real-life with the elegance of poetry and confront readers with hidden chapters of the world around them.

    In People and the Bay: A Social and Environmental History of Hamilton Harbour, Nancy Bouchier and Ken Cruikshank explore the complicated relationship between Hamilton Harbour and the people who came to live on its shores. From the time of European settlement through to Hamilton’s rise as an industrial city, people ahem struggled with nature, and with one another, to champion their vision of “the Bay” as a place to live, work, and play. Both Bouchier and Cruikshank bring to life the many personalities and power struggles attributed to the region drawing on a rich collection of archival materials. Along the way, they challenge readers to consider how moral and political choices being made about the natural world today will shape the cities of tomorrow.

    In Nobody Here Will Harm You: Mass Medical Evacuation from the Eastern Arctic 1950-1965, Shawn Selway casts an unflinching eye on the evacuation of 1,274 Inuit and Cree sufferers of tuberculosis from the Eastern Arctic to Mountain Sanatorium in Hamilton, Ontario, from 1950 to 1965. Selway considers the political culture, and the systemic racism within that culture, in which the decisions were made, as well as the technological and economic changes that made these relocations possible. Selway carefully documents the impact of the evacuations on the Inuit community and has included an assortment of archival images within this important book about at a difficult time in our country's history.. 

    In Evenings and Weekends: Five Years in Hamilton Music 2006-2011, Andrew Baulcomb explores  the roots of Hamilton’s legendary music scene. From blues singer Long John Baldry to the punk rock of Teenage Head, musicians, and music have made their home here. From innovative DJs to venue owners to radio hosts to the Arkells, Baulcomb interviews them all and weaves the story of an explosion of music in Hamilton with that of a generation adrift. This is a coming-of-age story that puts a human face on the people who made music happen, and on those who listened to it.

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

    Next: the finalists for Fiction

  • 24th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: Poetry Finalists

    November 6, 2017 by Stephen Near

    This is the first in a four part blog series showcasing the finalists of this year's 24th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. Find out which authors will take home the prizes by attending the gala celebration on Nov. 27, 2017 at Theatre Aquarius.

    Hamilton is a city that abounds in poets, and this year's finalists speak to the diversity of the poetry being written in our city. From the life of legendary painter, to our complicated relationship with grief, to a nightmarish journey through a strange Metropolis, these books move from the conversational to the surreal and blur the boundaries between genres.

    It has been almost a century since the painter Tom Thomson was murdered at the age of 39. The mystery of his death has captivated people almost as much as his passionate work. As both a friend and an inspiration to the members of The Group of Seven, founded shortly after his death, Thomson holds an important place in Canadian art.  Earth Day at Leith Churchyard: Poems in Search of Tom Thomson is a collection of poems inspired by the paintings and the character of Tom Thomson, and by the landscape he loved. Bernadette Rule, a former professor of English at Mohawk College, is the host of Art Waves, a weekly arts-interview program on Mohawk College radio. She has published six collections of poetry.

    Love is complicated, and in Love, Despite the Ache Chris Pannell has captured the sharp pain and deep affection of a son for his parents as they age and slip away from him. Along with love and loss, this is a book about our own aging. Our own, inevitable, death. Pannell writes of seeing close friends die unexpectedly, watching elderly couples as they travel together. He considers wheelchairs, walkers, lost memories and rests for a few moments in the contemplation of great art. Pannell details it all unsparingly, but with a great humanity. Chris Pannell's previous collection, A Nervous City, won the Hamilton Arts Council's Kerry Schooley Award. Another book, Drive, received the Acorn-Plantos Award for People's Poetry and the Arts Hamilton Award for Best Poetry Book of the Year. His other books include Under Old Stars, Everything Comes from Above and Sorry I Spent Your Poem.

    In Darrell Epp's latest collection After Hours, our hero awaits Dorothee's return, while frankensteins invade Canada. Poltergeists patrol the hollowed—out manufacturing sector. The future's a let—down; contingency plans are hastily constructed. Every moment's an apocalypse as divine grace pummels Metropolis like a blizzard of fists. In this, Epp’s second collection of poems, he explores diversity of themes with stark images rooted within a gritty postmodern setting. Darrell Epp has been published in literary magazines internationally and his poetry has appeared in dozens of magazines around the world including Maisonneuve, Poetry Ireland, Sub-Terrain, and The Saranac Review. His previous poetry collection was entitled Imaginary Maps (2009).

    This year's Award for Poetry is sponsored by:

    Next: the finalists for Non-Fiction

  • The Hamilton Arts Council is Hiring!

    October 23, 2017 by Stephen Near


    The Public Programs Officer reports to the Executive Director and will serve as the lead project coordinator on public programs and events including Hamilton Arts Week, LivingArts Workshops, Art Bus Studio Tours and other public events presented by the Hamilton Arts Council.

    The ideal candidate will be a dynamic, outgoing arts professional who contributes strong event planning experience as well as a commitment to outreach and inclusion and a firm grounding in Hamilton’s diverse arts and cultural community.

    Experience in marketing, graphic design (Adobe InDesign and Photoshop). Grant and copy writing experience is also desirable. The successful candidate will work on site in the Hamilton Arts Council office and at Hamilton-area arts venues when working with community stakeholders.

    The Public Program Officer will work both independently and in collaboration with Hamilton Arts Council staff, Board of Directors and volunteers. 


    • Lead the coordination of annual Hamilton Arts Week in collaboration with community stakeholders.
    • Planning and execution of Arts Week events including evaluation and grant reporting. 
    • Coordinate LivingArts Workshops and other professional development activities presented by the Hamilton Arts Council.
    • Planning and Day of Coordination of the Art Bus Studio Tours. 
    • Collaborate with the Visual Arts Committee and deliver ongoing programs. 
    • Sit on Visual Arts Committee as HAC staff representative. 
    • Prospective grant research and application writing (in conjunction with other staff).
    • Must be available to flex hours to accommodate evening and weekend events.  
    • Outgoing and friendly disposition.
    • A valid Drivers License.
    • Experience working with arts organizations or other not-for-profit organizations. 
    • A strong interest in outreach activities.
    • Minimum of 2 years administrative experience.
    • Strong organizational and analytical skills.
    • Excellent interpersonal and collaborative skills.
    • Excellent written and verbal communication.
    • Ability to meet deadlines.
    • Ability to multitask.
    • Attention to detail and accuracy.
    • Experience with Google Drive, Adobe In-Design and Microsoft.

    Hours: 3.5 days per week = 24 hours weekly 
    Salary: $25,000 per annum.
    This is a one-year contract position with the possibility of renewal 

    APPLICATION DEADLINE: November 3, 2017 by 4PM. 

    Interested candidates are invited to submit their resume, cover letter and 3 references via email to: The Hiring Committee at

    For information about the Hamilton Arts Council visit: or download the PDF.

  • Interview with Emma Rush

    July 6, 2017 by Bud Roach

    This week, Hamilton Arts Council Board member and Hammer Baroque Artistic Director Bud Roach presents the next installment of his new blog video series. This in-depth conversation features Emma Rush from Guitar Hamilton which hosts the 7th Hamilton International Guitar Festival & Competition from July 7-9, 2017.