Prize writers

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It was easy to pick out the Atlantic Book Awards nominees at Alderney Landing on Monday. Just look for corsages on lapels and nervous hands clutching glasses of chardonnay. Ten book prizes were presented, plus two mayor's awards. Although this year sadly marked the closure of two independent bookstores, Halifax's The Book Room and Bennington Gate in St. John's, it's clear that literary talent isn't affected by big box stores or the internet's pull. Mayor Peter Kelly presented his award for Cultural Achievement in Literature to Robbie MacGregor, co-publisher at Invisible Publishing---a feat considering they've only been around for a year, focusing on emerging writers who might not be represented in the well-established Atlantic literary community. Here's the proof: Stephanie Domet's Homing, the first novel published by Invisible, took the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award. Domet's emotional acceptance speech was almost as touching as her novel. Len Wagg, who received the Mayor's Award for Excellence in Book Illustration for Wild Nova Scotia, took a moment to plead for greater environmental protectionism. While shooting stunning photographs of Crown-owned wilderness areas, Wagg saw firsthand the devastation of clear-cutting around the province. Hungry Gracie, The Public Gardens Duck penned by Judith Meyrick, should be proud: she took home as many awards as Marq de Villiers and Jacques Poitras, scoring a book illustration award for Richard Rudnicki---if it looks like a duck...---and as runner-up for Best Atlantic Published Book.Poet Don Domanskiwill need to make room beside his Governor General's Award and three-time winner Beatrice MacNeilshould consider a trophy case. Finally, presenter Donna Morrisseymused at how many bags of Frenchy's clothing you can buy with $15,000. So if you see Don Hannah( Ragged Islands) wearing a gently used polo shirt, you know where he spent his Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize. All the winners are at writers.ns.ca/bookfest08.

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