Lesley Choyce moved to Canada in 1978 and founded Pottersfield Press, a small literary press located at Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia. Initially, Pottersfield published an annual anthology of writers from Atlantic Canada and soon the press was publishing books by poets and fiction writers throughout the region. 2018 marked the fortieth anniversary of Pottersfield Press. By 2019, Choyce had published 99 of his own works and, through Pottersfield Press, over 180 books by others.
During those forty years, Choyce introduced many first time book authors to the reading public including Maxine Tynes, George Elliott Clarke, Bruce Graham, Jon Tattrie, Joan Baxter, Frank Cameron, Steven Laffoley, Neil Peart, and Anthony Sherwood. As a publisher, editor and teacher, he has mentored many novice writers along the way. Choyce has also published well known authors such as Thomas Raddall, Claire Mowat, Harold Horwood, Daniel Petrie, Sheree Fitch, Budge Wilson, W.P. Kinsella, Ken McGoogan and Wayne Curtis. A number of Pottersfield books went on to win awards for their authors.
As an author, Choyce has had his work released by publishers large and small and has had at least one book published by a publisher in every Canadian province. He has written and published literary novels, poetry, collection of short stories, children’s books and young adult novels as well as history, memoir, humour and creative nonfiction. Most notably, he is known for his award-winning novel, The Republic of Nothing and his history of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Shaped by the Sea. His young adult novels have been translated into French, Spanish, Danish, German and Swedish.
As an author he has given readings across Canada including Labrador and the Northwest Territories as well as in Ireland and England. The Canadian Consulate in Tokyo hosted him to perform and give talks in schools and Choyce performed (along with Margaret Atwood and others) as part of the Vancouver World’s Fair 1986. At home in the Maritimes, he has given readings and workshops at hundreds of schools over the years.
Choyce has sat on a number of Canada Council juries and has been a judge on several national and regional literary prizes. He is past president of the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia and former board member of the Literary Press Group and the Canadian Writers Foundation. While writing and publishing, he has also had a distinguished teaching career that began with the City University of New York and after moving to Nova Scotia, teaching stints at Mt. St. Vincent University, NSCAD, St., Mary’s University and Dalhousie University where he has remained a permanent part time instructor since 1983. At Dalhousie, Lesley teaches English in the Transition Year Program as well as Creative Writing. In 2009 he was awarded the Dalhousie Student Union Award for Teaching Excellence. In his lengthy teaching career he has taught thousands of students.
For nearly thirty years, Choyce hosted and co-produced nearly 300 episodes of East Coast Authors, Choyce Words and Off the Page. These were literary talk shows that appeared on Channel 9 (Eastlink), Maine PBS, Vison TV and BookTelevision. As a TV host, he was able to interview some of the most notable authors of our time including Farley Mowat, William Golding, Allen Ginsberg and Douglas Copeland.
One of the reasons Choyce moved to Nova Scotia was for the sea and in particular the waves. He began surfing in New Jersey in 1967 and continues to surf today in the North Atlantic. He was one of the pioneers of Canadian winter surfing and in 1993 he was the Canadian National Surfing Champion.
In the late 1990s, Choyce explored another one of his passions by founding the seminal spoken word rock band the SurfPoets along with Doug Barron and Stan Carew.
Choyce became a Canadian citizen in 1983. At sixty-eight, he continues to write and publish, teach and mentor.
In April of 2022 Choyce was awarded The Atlantic Legacy Award. This award was established to honour those who have made a lasting contribution to the development of the literary arts in Atlantic Canada. You can read more about Lesley's award here.