Hearing her name announced last week as a Mississauga Arts Council (MAC) MARTY Award winner was like sweet music to Peta-Gaye Nash’s ears.
“It sounded good and then I started to tremble,” said the talented author, who was the recipient of the Emerging Literary Arts Award. “My husband had to walk me down the aisle.”
Acknowledged with an honorable mention in the same category two years ago, Nash was excited to go a step further.
“It’s a real honour,” she said. “It might not be the Nobel Prize for Literature, but to me it means everything. It means all those nights I stayed up writing and then had to get up early for work has been worth it. It means that it’s worth it to write about the hard subjects, the ones that may make my family cringe sometimes when it’s close to home or about a situation they know about when they know exactly how I got the story.”
Nash said family members and friends played a pivotal role in her rise to prominence in the literary field.
“There is no one person I could dedicate this honour to because the people in my life, the ones who know me well, know that I battle with discouragement and low moods,” she said. “They are the ones who tell me to stay positive and don’t stop writing. My husband is also a big part of this as he cooks almost every night so I can write or attend writer’s clubs.”
In her acceptance speech, Nash also acknowledged Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who introduced her at her first book launch before she became the city’s chief magistrate.
The Mississauga resident since 2004 has authored an adult collection, I Too Hear the Drums, and five children’s books, including Essie Wants an Education, which was launched last month.
The eldest of three children, Jamaican-born Nash spent four years in the United States until 1984 before returning to the Caribbean island and completing high school at Immaculate Conception. She came to the Greater Toronto Area in 1987 to attend McMaster University, where she graduated with a labour studies degree.
After finishing university, Nash bought a backpack, worked in a factory for a few months to save enough money to travel and then took off for two years. While in Australia, she met a Norwegian and moved to the Scandinavian country.
The union didn’t last long and Nash returned to Canada, where she is now happily married to a Jamaican.
In addition to writing, she is an English Language instructor working with newcomers at Malton Neighbourhood Services.
Established in 1981, the MAC engages, connects and champions artists of all disciplines; facilitates partnerships, collaborations and competition among artists and organizations and recognizes artists’ achievements through the MARTY awards established 20 years ago.