The Nonfiction Panel: Risk, Rejection, and the Personal Essay with Kyle Edwards, Alicia Elliott, Susan Olding, and Betsy Warland. Moderated by Tasneem Jamal
The New Yorker has declared the personal essay in “decline.” TNQ says it is alive and well, thanks to risk-takers who are willing to weather rejection, controversy, and critique. Meet emerging and established essayists who can help us understand why writing that is powerful for the reader can also be so dangerous for the writer. (Psst: of special interest to fans of the Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest.)
Kyle Edwards is a freelance writer in Toronto and a former policy researcher at the Chiefs of Ontario. He completed his bachelor of journalism at Ryerson University in June 2017. He enjoys writing about Indigenous politics and culture, and has been nominated for a National Magazine Award. Kyle is Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation, but is a member of Ebb and Flow First Nation in Manitoba. His work has appeared in Maclean’s (where he is now an Editorial Apprentice), This, CBC Indigenous and the Toronto Star. One day he wants to become a good nonfiction writer.
Alicia Elliott is a Tuscarora writer living in Brantford, Ontario with her husband and daughter. Her literary writing has been published by The Malahat Review, Room, Grain, and The New Quarterly, and her current events editorials have been published by CBC, Globe and Mail, Maclean’s and Maisonneuve. She’s currently Associate Nonfiction Editor at Little Fiction | Big Truths, and a consulting editor with The New Quarterly. Most recently, her essays, “A Mind Spread Out on the Ground” won a National Magazine Award.
Susan Olding is the author of Pathologies: A Life in Essays, selected by 49th Shelf and Amazon.ca as one of the 100 Canadian books to read in a lifetime. Her writing has won a National Magazine Award and has appeared in The Bellingham Review, The L.A. Review of Books, Maisonneuve, The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, and the Utne Reader, and in anthologies, including Best Canadian Essays 2016 and In Fine Form, 2nd Edition.
Betsy Warland has published 12 books of creative nonfiction, poetry and lyric prose. A creative writing teacher, mentor and editor, Warland works with writers from across Canada. Her bestseller book of essays if Breathing the Page—Reading the Act of Writing (2010). Oscar of Between — A Memoir of Identity and Ideas was one of two books that launched Caitlin Press’s Dagger Editions in 2016. Warland received the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Award for Literary Achievement in 2016. A founder of the Canada’s Creative Nonfiction Collective (CNFC), she mentors and teaches in The Writer’s Studio at S.F.U.; and directs and mentors the Vancouver Manuscript Intensive.
Tasneem Jamal’s debut novel Where the Air Is Sweet was published to critical acclaim in 2014. Her writing has appeared in Chatelaine, Saturday Night magazine, and the Literary Review of Canada. She worked as a news editor at The Globe and Mail and before that as a copy editor at Saturday Night magazine. Currently a consulting editor with The New Quarterly, she is at work on a book-length memoir. She lives in Kitchener with her husband and two daughters.