An Oak Bay poet is among 14 writers across the province shortlisted for the inaugural 2015 Cedric Literary Awards.
Susan Braley us up for a poetry award in the Cedric Literary Awards, limited to full-time B.C. residents aged 50 years and beyond.
When Braley moved west to Oak Bay in 2005 it was a time of retirement, which became time to get back to learning.
The career teacher slipped deeper into her love of creative writing, something that started as a youngster in grade school.
“As I grew older I spent more time focussing on my studies. I spent more time writing academic papers,” Braley explained. She enjoyed that thoroughly, but as a teacher spent some of each summer holiday penning short stories and poems. Upon retirement and the move to B.C. it was time to devote more time to that love of writing.
Braley quickly discovered “teaching literature is not the same as writing it,” she said.
Fortunately the network of writers on Vancouver Island is extensive for both lessons and readings, which also provide opportunities for information gathering.
She found herself in classes and workshops returning to the role of learner rather than a teacher. With a novel complete, she found herself branching out creatively.
“I went to some poetry readings and that’s what inspired me, Braley said. “It’s a very distilled art. There’s an energy and intensity in every line,” she said, adding the spaces between are also critical in delivering the deliberately indirect messages.
“I’m spending most of my time writing poetry now.”
Her nominated work was inspired by words of British sculptor Barbara Hepworth: “My left hand is my thinking hand. The right is only a motor hand. This holds the hammer. The left hand, the thinking hand, must be relaxed, sensitive. The rhythms of thought pass through the fingers and grip of this hand into the stone.
“It is also a listening hand. It listens for basic weaknesses of flaws in the stone; for the possibility or imminence of fractures.”
Braley’s words and structure in “Imminence of fracture” reflect much of her recent work, acknowledgement of the fragility of the human condition balanced with the joy and appreciation for what we have – love, beauty and compassion.
Designed for participants who have never had any of their work published before, “the Cedric Literary Awards were created to recognize and encourage the creative talents in fiction and poetry of unpublished authors who are better than 50,” said Dr. Peter Dale, chairman and founder of the awards.
A prize of $3,000 is awarded in each category after adjudication by a panel of people who are well known and respected in the fields of writing and publishing.
“It’s very affirming for writers who work quietly in their rooms day after day and feel invisible. It’s satisfying to have your work read and shared by the community,” Braley said.
“With this kind of affirmation I would be galvanized to write another book.”