Tuesday, November 10: 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Bird Song: Finding a New, Natural Voice

with Susan Bryant and Julia Zarankin

For Julia Zarankin, birding ultimately lead her to uncover a new language.

When Julia Zarankin saw her first red-winged blackbird at the age of thirty-five, she didn’t expect that it would change her life. Recently divorced and auditioning hobbies during a stressful career transition, she stumbled on birdwatching, initially out of curiosity for the strange breed of humans who wear multi-pocketed vests, carry spotting scopes and discuss the finer points of optics with disturbing fervour. What she never could have predicted was that she would become one of them. Join Julia Zarankin and Susan Bryant for a conversation on how a new hobby can cast a new perspective in your writing.


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  • 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.

  • 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.