2020 Wild Writers
LAMEES AL ETHARI holds a PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Waterloo, where she has been teaching creative and academic writing since 2015. She has published a collection of poems titled From the Wounded Banks of the Tigris (2018) and, more recently, a memoir titled Waiting for the Rain (2019). Her poems have appeared in About Place Journal, The New Quarterly, The Malpais Review, and the anthology Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here. She is a nonfiction editor with The New Quarterly and a co-coordinator for The X Page: A Storytelling Workshop for Immigrant Women.
ASHLEY-ELIZABETH BEST is a disabled poet and essayist from Kingston, Ontario. Her work can be found in CV2, Ambit Magazine, The Literary Review of Canada, The Columbia Review, and Glasgow Review of Books, among others. In 2015, she was a finalist for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, and her debut collection of poetry, Slow States of Collapse, was published with ECW Press.
ERIN BOW is an award-winning poet and novelist, whose honors include the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the CBC Literary Award for poetry, and a Governor General’s Award. She was trained as a physicist, and does science writing about things like black holes and quantum gravity. Her novels are written in her garden shed, in the rotating company of her novelist-husband, two joyfully creative tween-aged kids, and an unnerving number of shed spiders.
SUSAN BRYANT lives in Waterloo, Ontario, where she taught English for 25 years at Renison University College. She migrated from the U.S. as a teenager to attend the University of Toronto and has happily made Canada her home.
Raising her family in Elmira, Ontario, she witnessed in 1989 the devastating contamination of the town’s water with toxic chemicals from a local factory. Ever since, she has been a local activist for a clean environment, especially focused on water issues. To relax when that work gets stressful, she finds a quiet spot and spies on birds.
CATHERINE BUSH is the author of five novels, including Blaze Island (2020), the Canada Reads long-listed Accusation (2013), the Trillium Award short-listed Claire’s Head (2004), andThe Rules of Engagement (2000), a New York Times Notable Book and a Globe & Mail Best Book of the Year. She was recently a Fiction Meets Science Fellow at the HWK in Germany and has spoken internationally about addressing the climate crisis in fiction. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph and Coordinator of the Guelph Creative Writing MFA, located in Toronto, Canada.
JANE BUYERS is a visual artist. She has an Honours B.A. in Visual Art from York University (1973) and a Master of Education in History and Philosophy from the University of Toronto (1990). She was Professor in the Fine Arts department at the University of Waterloo from 1988 to 2010, where she is now Distinguished Professor Emerita.
Buyers has worked in a variety of media and processes in printmaking, sculpture, drawing and commissioned public works. Many of her works incorporate references to books. She has exhibited across Canada, as well in United States, U.K., Germany and Italy, in over forty solo exhibitions and in more than one hundred group exhibitions. Her work is in numerous private, corporate and public collections.
Jane is represented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto. You can view images of her work on the Gallery website and on the Canadian Centre for Contemporary Art database.
MICHAEL CRUMMEY has published eleven books of poetry and fiction, including the novels River Thieves, The Wreckage and Sweetland, and Little Dogs: New and Selected Poems. His third novel, Galore, won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize (Canada and Caribbean). His latest, The Innocents, won the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor-General’s Award, and the Roger’s Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. He lives in St. John’s.
NANCY JO CULLEN’S fiction and poems have appeared in Best Canadian Poetry 2018, The Journey Prize, Best Canadian Fiction 2012, The Puritan, Grain, filling Station, Plenitude, Prairie Fire, This Magazine, Room and Arc Poetry Magazine. She has published three critically acclaimed collections of poetry with Calgary’s Frontenac House Press and has just completed her fourth poetry manuscript. Nancy is the 2010 recipient for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers. Her first novel, The Western Alienation Merit Badge was released in May 2019 by Wolsak and Wynn. Her short story collection, Canary, was the winner of the 2012 Metcalfe Rooke prize.
SADIQA DE MEIJER is a writer of poetry, essays, and short fiction. She was born in Amsterdam and emigrated to Canada as a child. Her poetry collections are Leaving Howe Island and The Outer Wards. Her essay collection, alfabet/alphabet, examines the imprint of her first language on her life in English. She also writes on themes of migration, belonging, domesticity, and landscape.
ANTONIO MICHAEL DOWNING grew up in southern Trinidad, Northern Ontario, Brooklyn, and Kitchener. He is a musician, writer, and activist based in Toronto. His 2010 debut novel, Molasses (Blaurock Press), was published to critical acclaim. In 2017 he was named by the RBC Taylor Prize as one of Canada’s top Emerging Authors for nonfiction. He performs and composes music as John Orpheus.
HELEN HUMPHREYS is an acclaimed and award-winning author of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Her work includes novels Machine Without Horses, The Evening Chorus, Coventry and Afterimage. Her nonfiction includes The Ghost Orchard, The Frozen Thames, as well as the memoir Nocturne. She has won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Toronto Book Award, and has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Trillium Book Prize, the Lambda Literary Award and CBC Radio’s Canada Reads. The recipient of the Harbourfront Festival Prize for literary excellence, Helen Humphreys lives in Kingston, Ontario
MAHAK JAIN writes fiction and poetry for young people and adults. She is the author of the picture book Maya (illustrated by Elly Mackay), which was a CBC Best Book of the Year, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, and winner of the 2017 South Asia Book Award. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in magazines across the US and Canada, and she has been long listed for the Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. Born in Delhi, Mahak has also lived in Dubai, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Montreal. She currently lives in Toronto, where she is a professor of creative writing.
CHELENE KNIGHT is the author of the Braided Skin and the memoir Dear Current Occupant, winner of the 2018 Vancouver Book Award, and long-listed for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. Her essays have appeared in multiple Canadian and American literary journals, plus the Globe and Mail, the Walrus, and the Toronto Star. Her work is anthologized in Making Room, Love Me True, Sustenance, The Summer Book, and Black Writers Matter, winner of the 2020 Saskatchewan Book Award.
The Toronto Star called Knight, “one of the storytellers we need most right now.” Knight was the previous managing editor at Room magazine, and the previous festival director for the Growing Room Festival in Vancouver. She is now CEO of her own literary studio, Breathing Space Creative and she works as an associate literary agent with Transatlantic Agency. Chelene often gives talks about home, belonging and belief, inclusivity, and community building through authentic storytelling. Chelene teaches part time at the University of Toronto.
ANITA LAHEY’s latest book is The Last Goldfish: a True Tale of Friendship (Biblioasis, 2020). She’s also author of the Véhicule Press poetry collections Out to Dry in Cape Breton and Spinning Side Kick, and the prose collection The Mystery Shopping Cart: Essays on Poetry and Culture (Palimpsest, 2013). Anita is a past editor of Arc Poetry Magazine and has served as series editor of the annual anthology Best Canadian Poetry since 2018, and prior to that was BCP’s assistant series editor since 2014. She lives in Ottawa, on unceded Alongonquin, Anishinabek territory.
AMANDA LEDUC’s essays and stories have appeared in publications across Canada, the US, and the UK. She is the author of Disfigured as well as of the novels The Miracles of Ordinary Men and the forthcoming The Centaur’s Wife. She has cerebral palsy and lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where she works as the Communications Coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), Canada’s first festival for diverse authors and stories.
Y. S. LEE’s fiction includes the young adult mystery series The Agency (Candlewick Press), which has been translated into six languages. Her work has either won or been shortlisted for various prizes including the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s inaugural John Spray Mystery Award, the Ontario Library Association’s Red Maple Award, and the Arthur Ellis Award. Her first novel for adults was nominated for the K. M. Hunter Artist Award as a work-in-progress. This year, Ying began to explore poetry as a member of The Villanelles writers’ group. She lives in Kingston, Ontario, within traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory.
KIRSTEEN MACLEOD is a writer of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction whose work has appeared in literary journals including TNQ and Malahat Review. Her work has been a finalist for many awards, including ARC Poetry’s 2020 Poem of the Year. Kirsteen, a yoga teacher, also leads “relaxed writing” yoga workshops. Her new nonfiction book, In Praise of Retreat, is forthcoming in Spring 2021 (ECW Press) – see “Green Cathedral” for a preview. Kirsteen’s debut collection of short fiction, The Animal Game, was published in 2016. She divides her time between the lakeside city of Kingston, Ontario, and a riverside cabin in the north woods.
SUSAN OLDING is the author of Pathologies: A Life in Essays, and Big Reader, forthcoming from Freehand Books in spring, 2021. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in literary journals and magazines, including Arc, Prairie Fire, Maisonneuve, the Malahat Review, and the Utne Review. Her most recent contribution to TNQ is “Pacific Spirit,” the magazine’s first photo essay. She currently lives in Victoria, BC, but Zooms back to Kingston to meet with the Villanelles.
WAUBGESHIG RICE is an author and journalist from Wasauksing First Nation on Georgian Bay. He has written three fiction titles, and his short stories and essays have been published in numerous anthologies. His most recent novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, was published in 2018 and became a national bestseller. He graduated from Ryerson University’s journalism program in 2002, and spent the bulk of his journalism career at CBC, most recently as host of Up North, the afternoon radio program for northern Ontario. He lives in Sudbury, Ontario with his wife and two sons.
SUSAN SCOTT has an ear for the personal, the edgy, and the uncommonly sublime. Her latest book, Body & Soul, is an anthology of unorthodox approaches to the sacred that Sarah Selecky calls “a revelation.” A commitment to powerful, disruptive stories that inspire change led to joining Native Immigrant arts collective and to teaching in communities and classrooms from the West to the Great Lakes, New England, and the South. In her role as The New Quarterly’s lead nonfiction editor (2012-9), she championed neglected voices and attracted National Magazine Award-wins that went on to Best Canadian- and Best American Essays. When not writing in cafés or biking home with groceries, she’s consulting with artists, activists, and scholars for her next two books—one called Blood, Sand, Bread, and the other, an imperfect reckoning with land, language, family, and imperfect teaware.
Originally from Newfoundland, HEATHER SMITH now lives in Waterloo, Ontario. Her middle-grade novel, Ebb & Flow, was short-listed for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award and was the winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Her picture book, The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota’s Garden, was recently named the winner of the 2019 Freeman Book Award for Children’s Literature. Heather has written several other books for young people including the award-winning, The Agony of Bun O’Keefe. Heather’s Newfoundland roots inspire much of her writing. Her newest young adult book, Barry Squires, Full Tilt, will be out on September 22.
NICOLE LEONA SMITH is a writer and theatre creator based in Cambridge, Ontario. Her work as a playwright has been supported by the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), the Shaw Festival, and Canadian Stage. Girls From Away is Nicole’s most recent play-in-progress – a co-creation with Newfoundland’s Berni Stapleton, in development through Newfoundland’s Arts and Culture Centres and set to premiere in 2021. Nicole’s essays and short fiction can most recently be found in The New Quarterly (Issue 155) and Ember Chasm Review (Issue 02). She is currently working on her first novel, with support from TNQ & the OAC.
RUSSELL SMITH’S most recent book, Confidence, was longlisted for the Giller Prize and shortlisted for the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize. His English translation of Nadine Bismuth’s award-winning novel Un Lien Familial has just been published by House of Anansi. He is now working as an acquiring editor at Dundurn Press. His techno dance mixes can be found on Mixcloud under the name DJ Roomtone.
SANCHARI SUR is a PhD candidate in English at Wilfrid Laurier University. Their writing can be found in Joyland, Al Jazeera, Toronto Book Award Shortlisted The Unpublished City (Book*hug, 2017), Room, Prism International, EVENT, Quill & Quire, and elsewhere. They are a recipient of a 2018 Lambda Literary Fellowship in fiction, a 2019 Banff residency (with Electric Literature), and Arc Poetry Magazine’s 2020 Critics’ Desk Award for a Feature Review.
Novelist, teacher, activist and journalist, SUSAN SWAN‘s critically acclaimed fiction has been published in twenty countries. In 2019, Swan published her eighth book of fiction, The Dead Celebrities Club, described in the Globe and Mail as “a tale of greed, hubris and fraud…a financial fable worthy of the age.” Swan’s novel, the international bestseller, The Wives of Bath, was made into the feature film Lost and Delirious and shown in 32 countries. Her 2004 novel What Casanova Told Me was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Her first novel, The Biggest Modern Woman of the World, about a Canadian giantess who exhibited with P.T. Barnum is currently being made into a television series. Swan was York University’s Robarts Scholar for Canadian Studies in 1999-2000. A past chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada, she brought in a new benefits deal for writers. She is a co-founder of The Carol Shields Prize for Fiction with editor Janice Zawerbny.
SOUVANKHAM THAMMAVONGSA is the author of four poetry books, and the short story collection How to Pronounce Knife, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, out now with McClelland & Stewart (Canada), Little, Brown (U.S.), and Bloomsbury (U.K.). Her stories have won an O. Henry Award and appeared in Harper’s, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, and Granta. She was born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand and was raised and educated in Toronto where she now lives.
SARAH YI MEI TSIANG is a poet, children’s writer and teacher. Her books of poetry include Status Update (2013), which was nominated for the Pat Lowther Award, and Sweet Devilry (2011), which won the Gerald Lampert Award. She was shortlisted for the CBC poetry prize in 2019 and longlisted for the CBC poetry prize in 2018. Tsiang’s poetry has won the Arc Magazine Reader’s Choice for Poem of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse contest, the Bliss Carmen Poetry Award, and the Re-lit Award. Her work has also been featured in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry and many other anthologies. She is the editor of the poetry collection, Desperately Seeking Susans (2013).
EMILY URQUHART is a National Magazine Award-winning writer and has a doctorate in folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her first book, Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes (HarperCollins 2015), was a Maclean’s bestseller, a finalist for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and a 2015 Globe and Mail Best Book. Her freelance writing has appeared in The Toronto Star, The Walrus, Longreads, The Rumpus and Eighteen Bridges among other publications. She is a nonfiction editor for The New Quarterly and teaches creative nonfiction at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her second book, The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, my Father and Me (Anansi) launched in September 2020.
BRENT VAN STAALDUINEN is an award-winning writer from Hamilton. He is the author of the novels BOY, the forthcoming NOTHING BUT LIFE, and SAINTS, UNEXPECTED, as well as the forthcoming short fiction collection CUT ROAD. His stories have won the Bristol Short Story Prize, the Lush Triumphant Literary Award, and the Fiddlehead Fiction Award, and have appeared in The Sycamore Review, The New Quarterly, Prairie Fire, Event, The Fiddlehead, and elsewhere. A recovering high school English teacher, tree planter, army medic, and radio announcer, Brent now finds himself working for the Hamilton Public Library and helping other writers find their voice.
PAUL VERMEERSCH is a poet, multimedia artist, creative writing professor, and literary editor. He is the author of several poetry collections, including the Trillium–award nominated The Reinvention of the Human Hand and, most recently, Shared Universe: New and Selected Poems 1995-2020. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph for which he received the Governor General’s Gold Medal. He teaches in the Creative Writing & Publishing program at Sheridan College and is the founding editor of Buckrider Books, an imprint of Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd. He lives in Toronto.
ISABELLA WANG is the author of two poetry collections, On Forgetting a Language (Baseline Press 2019) and Pebble Swing (Nightwood Editions forthcoming 2021). She has been shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Poetry Contest, The Minola Review’s Inaugural Poetry Contest, and she is the youngest writer to be shortlisted twice for The New Quarterly’s Edna Staebler Essay Contest. Her poetry and prose have appeared in over thirty literary journals, including Arc Poetry Magazine, carte blanche, and Prairie Fire, and are forthcoming in four anthologies. She is the Editor for issue 44.2 of Room magazine.
JACK WANG received a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto, an M.F.A. from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in English with an emphasis in creative writing from Florida State University. In 2014–15, he held the David T. K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Stories in his debut collection, We Two Alone (House of Anansi Press), have been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and longlisted for the Journey Prize, and have appeared in PRISM International, The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, The Humber Literary Review, and Joyland. Originally from Vancouver, Jack Wang is an associate professor in the Department of Writing at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, where he lives with his wife, novelist Angelina Mirabella, and their two daughters.
ANDREW WESTOLL is an award-winning author and professor whose writing explores our fraught, ever-evolving relationship with the natural world. His books include The Riverbones (2008), the Charles Taylor Prize-winning The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary (2011), and The Jungle South of the Mountain (2016). His next book, The Zoo and You, explores the many enigmas of the modern zoo, and is forthcoming from Doubleday Canada. Andrew is Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, of Creative Writing and English at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), where in 2019 he won the annual UTSC Teaching Award, which recognizes sustained teaching excellence. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, is a Gold National Magazine Award winner, and his books have been published in the USA, UK, Australia and Poland.
JULIA ZARANKIN is a writer and self-proclaimed birdsplainer with a particular fondness for sewage lagoons. Her writing has appeared in The Walrus, Cottage Life, Orion Magazine, Threepenny Review, Antioch Review, Birding, Maisonneuve, The New Quarterly, ON Nature and The Globe & Mail. Zarankin is the winner of the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival prize for creative non-fiction and has been a finalist for the CBC Short Story Prize, first runner-up for PRISM International’s creative non-fiction prize, a finalist for the TNQ Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest and twice longlisted for the CBC Nonfiction Prize.