Neptune Theatre and the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) have partnered for Unbound, a new audiobook series featuring Nova Scotian books read by Nova Scotian actors.
The first of the four audiobooks to be released in the series is The Door of My Heart and Other Poems from Halifax poet Maxine Tynes. The poems selected from Tynes’ published books of poetry were compiled by author Evelyn White to create this new compilation. Narrated by Halifax-based multidisciplinary artist Tara Taylor says she was honoured to recite the poet’s raw, powerful words.
“She plays with words in such a way that it makes you pay attention when reading or hearing them so that you understand the message she was aiming to relay,” says Taylor.” “Reading her work, you feel proud as a peacock to be Black, to be yourself. Her sincerity for persons with disabilities is apparent. Her words make all five of your senses come alive.”
Upcoming releases include Nova Scotia actor Martha Irving who narrates Evelyn M. Richardson’s Governor General’s Literary Award-winning memoir, We Keep a Light. The 1945 autobiography recounts how Richardson and her husband bought tiny Bon Portage Island and built a happy life for themselves and their three children.
Song of Rita Joe: Autobiography of a Mi’kmaq Poet features 75 poems written by the Indigenous poet as narrated by Catherine Martin. Born into poverty on a Cape Breton reserve Joe fought for family, justice, and her own independent voice and wrote about her life’s journey, and the promise of hope and healing.
The final book in the series features theatre artist Margaret Muriel Legere narrating The Leaving, a series of short stories by Budge Wilson exploring growing up in a colourful but imperfect world from a female point of view.
In selecting the books to be recorded, WFNS wanted to ensure representation in both genres and the authors’ cultural diversity. For Marilyn Smulders, executive director of WFNS, the project gives new life to these books and Nova Scotians an opportunity to experience and explore these essential works in a new format.
The narrators are breathing new life into them and allowing us to experience them anew.
“As an audiobook listener myself, I’m thrilled that some really great Nova Scotian books, that perhaps people have always meant to read but haven’t, will soon be available to listen to,” says Smulders, “The narrators are breathing new life into them and allowing us to experience them anew. They’re perfect for car rides, walks in the woods, or tasks where the mind is free when hands are busy. You’ll be transported, I promise.”
As part of Neptune Theatre’s Neptune at Home digital offerings, the company’s artistic director Jeremy Webb and RBC Chrysalis artistic director intern Patricia Cerra provided creative direction on the audiobooks.
“What a delight it was to sit in a quiet recording studio for a few weeks and listen to artists like Tara Taylor, Martha Irving, Cathy Martin and Margaret Muriel Legere not only read the books they were paired with but bring them to vivid life,” says Webb.
Made possible through the Province of Nova Scotia’s Cultural Industries Fund, the audiobooks will be available for downloading Neptune Theatre’s streaming platform Neptune at Home. The first book, now available for download, is The Door of My Heart and Other Poems, with a new book added each week.