This Week in JPL History: The Roots of First Fruits

Barbara Kay is pictured here with one of the First Fruits anthologies and one of its writers.

The phrase “First Fruits” has many meanings to many different people. In Montreal the phrase took on a special connotation as it was the name given to the annual young adult writing anthology published by the JPL for 25 years. Each year the Library would gather entries from over 20 high schools around the city. The anthology contained a wide range of pieces from poetry, to prose, to opinion pieces and short stories. As the years passed artwork was added, as well as a musical performance through the Clarence Fink Memorial Scholarship.

During this week in 2005 there was a meeting of the First Fruits Committee. Led by the Barbara Kay and starting in 1983 the committee oversaw the administration of the anthology, the committee was later led by Ethel Gold and Arthur Candib. Pieces were chosen for the anthology by a committee of judges.

Getting published as a part of First Fruits was the start of a long literary career for two writers, Jonathan Kay and Sarah Mlynowski. Kay has gone on to become the Comment Pages Editor for the National Post, as well as a contributor. Mlynowski has published numerous novels and contributed to a number of anthologies, this year will mark the second time she has participated in the Norman Berman Children’s Library Girls Night Out.

The This Week in Jewish Public Library History blog series was made possible through the generous support of the Peter and Ellen Jacobs Virtual Archives Fund

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