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Album Rock: Looking Back Through the Lens of Paul-Émile Miot by Matthew Hollett

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2024 SPARKS Literary Festival Featured Title!


Part art history, part road trip, and part detective story, Album Rock began when Matthew Hollett stumbled across an intriguing photograph from the 1850s on the website of the Corner Brook Museum and Archives.   Paul-Émile Miot was one of the first photographers to visit Newfoundland. His photo Rocher peint par les marins français (Rock painted by French sailors) shows the word Album painted on a prominent rock in Sacred Bay, on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula. Over 160 years later, the landmark is still known as Album Rock. But what’s the story behind this curious scene? And who are the sailors posing on the rock?   A lively and insightful work of creative nonfiction and poetry, Album Rock touches on the history of photography in Newfoundland, Miot’s travels around the French Shore, and the power of naming in shaping our perceptions of a place. It’s also a celebration of curiosity and the joy of delving into the mystery of a peculiar photograph.


Matthew Hollett is an award-winning writer and visual artist in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Album Rock is his first book.  Matthew won the 2018 Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poem. He was awarded the 2018 Cox & Palmer Sparks Creative Writing Award and the Landfall Trust Residency.

His poetry collection, Optic Nerve, won the 2017 NLCU Fresh Fish Award. He also won the 2017 Prairie Fire Short Fiction Contest, The Malahat Review’s 2017 Open Season Award for Creative Nonfiction, and In 2017 he was selected as Newfoundland Quarterly’s inaugural Creative Nonfiction Fellow. Matthew was longlisted for the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize.

His writing has been published most recently in Riddle Fence and PRISM International, and previously in anthologies such as The March Hare Anthology and Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry.   Check out his webpage at