Half-Moon Bay poet short-listed for GG’s Literary Award

A Half-Moon Bay writer’s long poem — inspired by a bank robber who committed suicide —- is short-listed for a Governor General’s Literary Award.

Joe Denham is the author of Regeneration Machine. The book, a single 100-stanza poem, is inspired by the true story of Nevin Sample, who robbed a Deep Cove bank in the 1990s before killing himself following a police pursuit.

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Sample was a friend of Denham, a poet and musician who attended the University of Victoria and once studied Chinese medicine in this city.

Regeneration Machine is his third book of poetry. Published in 2015 by Nightwood Editions, it was the winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry. Denham has also published a novel called The Year of Broken Glass, published by Nightwood.

Meanwhile, Vancouver-born, Montreal-based Madeleine Thien’s latest novel is in the running for a third major book prize: the Governor General’s Literary Award.

Thien was announced Tuesday as one of the five finalists in the fiction category for Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Knopf Canada).

Set in China before, during and after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Thien’s novel has emerged as one of the most celebrated titles this season.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing has also made the short list for both the £50,000 ($85,000 Cdn) Man Booker Prize and the $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Fellow Giller contender Gary Barwin of Hamilton was also named among the Governor General’s Literary Award fiction contenders for his novel Yiddish for Pirates (Random House Canada).

A trio of authors also in contention for the $25,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize round out the list of finalists: Montreal-born, Moncton, N.B.-based author Kerry Lee Powell for her short story collection Willem De Kooning’s Paintbrush (Harper Avenue, an imprint of HarperCollins); Winnipeg’s Katherena Vermette for “The Break ”(House of Anansi Press); and Vancouver novelist Anosh Irani for “The Parcel” (Knopf Canada).

The Governor General’s Literary Award non-fiction finalists are:

• Toronto’s Kamal Al-Solaylee for Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (To Everyone) (HarperCollins)

• Toronto’s Teva Harrison for In-Between Days: A Memoir About Living with Cancer (House of Anansi Press)

• Harold R. Johnson of La Ronge, Sask., for Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (and Yours) (University of Regina Press)

• Montreal’s Marc Raboy for Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World (Oxford University Press)

• Saskatoon’s Bill Waiser for A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905 (Fifth House Publishers.)

The winners will be announced on Oct. 25.

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