WestWord - October-December 2022

Page 1

STARFest Albert Readers Festival St. Albert Omar El Akkad Thursday, by Omar Mouallem J.M. Miro Oct. Hosted by Thomas Trofimuk Zarqa Nawaz Oct. 16 2 PM Hosted by Paula Simons Genevieve Graham Tuesday, Oct. 18 7 PM Hosted by Fran Kimmel Ian Williams Tuesday, Oct. 25 7 PM Hosted by Oumar Salifou Heather O’Neill Monday, Oct. 24 | 7 PM Hosted by Tony King Clayton Thomas-Müller Oct. 21 7 PM Hosted by Teneya Gwin Donna Morrissey Thursday, Oct. 20 PM by Rayanne Haines
Inspiration. Conversation. 8 author events | October 12 – 25, 2022 Tickets are on sale at STARFest.ca.
Oct. 13 | 7:30 PM Hosted
14 | 7 PM
| 7
Feature Articles 8 HELP! MY KID CAN READ! On the privacy dilemmas of the parent-writer Caitlin Crawshaw 12 PANDEMIC PIVOT Mastering the move from in-person to online Marty Chan 14 SOMEDAY “AWKWARD” CONVERSATIONS WON’T BE NEEDED But not today Shari Narine 16 LISTENING TO THE LAND Writing our relationships to place Jenna Butler 18 HORIZONS WRITERS CIRCLE In conversation with Rayanne Haynes and Meghan Eaker Luciana Erregue-Sacchi 22 UVA MEANS GRAPE Learning to read from a word thousands of years old Sandro Silva 24 COMMUNICATING SUSTAINABILITY Creating a vision for a sustainable future Roberta Laurie 26 ARE YOU WRITING/NOT WRITING ABOUT THE PANDEMIC? CONTENTS WESTWORD VOLUME 42, NUMBER 4 | OCTOBER–DECEMBER 2022 2 Editor’s Note Raymond Gariépy 3 Why Am I Telling You This? Heidi Klaassen 4 ED’s Note Giorgia Severini 5 Note From The Board Blaine Newton 6 Write/Right: Law for Writers Jeananne Kirwin, Q.C. 29 WestWord Submission Guidelines The Community 29 New WGA Members 30 Member News 32 Donors & Sponsors We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts; the Edmonton Arts Council; Calgary Arts Development; The City of Calgary; the City of Edmonton; Canada Council for the Arts. 16 22 12 18

We support and advocate for all writers and provide opportunities to grow and connect while enriching Alberta’ s culture and economy.

WestWord is published four times a year.

ISSN: 0821-4203

© Writers’ Guild of Alberta, 2022

WGA Membership Rates

$80/year; $50/seniors; $40/low income; free to post-secondary students until graduation. Membership is open to all writers resident or formerly resident in Alberta.

WGA Executive President: Blaine Newton

Vice President: Teresa Wouters

Treasurer: Olga Krochak Sulkin

Secretary: Vacant Members at Large: Dr. Kimberly Fraser Nicole Hill

Moorea Gray Member at Large (Youth Rep): Sophie Pinkoski Past President: Carol Parchewsky

WGA Staff Executive Director: Giorgia Severini Program and Events Coordinator: Jason Lee Norman Program and Operations Coordinator: Ashley Mann Program Coordinator, Southern Alberta Office: Dorothy Bentley Communications and Partnerships Coordinator: Ellen Kartz

Member Services Coordinator: Mike Maguire

Project Assistant: Sadie MacGillvray

WGA Contractor

WordsWorth Director: Colin Matty Horizons Writers Circle Coordinator: Luciana Erregue-Sacchi

WGA WestWord Editor: Raymond Gariépy

Assistant Editor: Ellen Kartz

Layout & Design: Jason Scheibelhofer

Printing: nexGen Grafix Inc.

Please notify the WGA office immediately of any address change.

Writers’ Guild of Alberta Percy Page Centre, 11759 Groat Road Edmonton, AB T5M 3K6

Ph: (780) 422-8174, Fax: (780) 422-2663

Toll-free: 1-800-665-5354

Email: mail@writersguild.ca Website: writersguild.ca

Southern Alberta Office: #204, 223 12th Ave. SW Calgary, AB T2R 0G9

Ph: (403) 875-8058

Email: dorothy.bentley@writersguild.ab.ca

Submission queries can be sent to: editor@writersguild.ab.ca


“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” — William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well

French writer, Emmanuel Carrère, known for blending fiction and nonfiction, encountered a backlash over his book, Yoga, published in 2020. The “novel” intertwines fiction with the author’s life—his experience in Greece with Syrian migrants, a stint at a yoga retreat, his depression, and his former wife, Hélène Devync, who accused Carrère of writing about her without her consent. The couple’s divorce agreement included a clause preventing Carrère from writing about Devync. Yoga broke that agreement. Devync demanded cuts to the manuscript, many of which were not honoured. A legal battle ensued.

The Norwegian writer, Karl Ove Knausgaard, was criticized publicly for negative depictions of relatives, notably his alcoholic father, in his autobiography, My Struggle. Knausgaard acknowledged he sacrificed his family and friends with his honest portrayal of them. Lawsuits, his divorce and being ostracized by his family followed.

Again, in France, philosopher Jean-Paul Enthoven publicly disowned his philosopher son, Raphaël, for writing Le Temps gagné (Time Saved). The autobiographical novel discloses private details relating to Jean-Paul and his relationship with his then-girlfriend, Carla Bruni, who left him for Raphaël.

Canadian Lindsay Wong’s debut memoir, The Woo-Woo, recounts her family’s history of mental illness. “Discussing mental illness is taboo in [Chinese] culture, yet I dared write about it,” Wong said. (CBC’s First Person, The Doc Project, June 17, 2022)

If honesty is your best policy as a writer, your truth could upend the legacy you envisioned as a writer. In this issue of WestWord, Caitlan Crawshaw discovers that when her young daughter learns to read, the writer-mother role is rife with pitfalls and pratfalls. Her article, “Help! My kid can read! On the privacy dilemmas of the parent-writer,” is a humorous cautionary tale on writing “about the hard parts of my life… parenting and family life… After all, I’m capturing parts of my life—and hers—that she may be curious about one day.”

Crawshaw crosses her fingers that her daughter won’t discover the raw descriptions of her mom’s “traumatic experiences, like cancer and pregnancy loss,” until she is an adult. Crawshaw adds: “she doesn’t know the darkest corners of these experiences because I’m her mother and I try not to warp her. It had occurred to me while writing these pieces that my kid might come across them someday, but as an adult. Not a child. I was naïve.”

Jeananne Kirwin, Q.C., discusses the peril that “truth is an absolute defence” when one’s writing is based on real-life events. In her column “Write/Right: Law for Writers,” she suggests that the writer and publisher “should obtain legal advice before publishing works that could be perceived as reflecting adversely upon another person, or as depriving a person of his or her right to privacy. Even fictional works can be vulnerable to defamation claims.”

As Crawshaw states, writing “comes with risks, but also rewards.” Writer beware: Know the risks of honesty to ensure “all’s well that ends well.”

I welcome your comments about this issue of WestWord magazine. You can reach me by email at editor@writersguild.ab.ca



Ioften hear from writers that they don’t have time to read or lack the dedicated hours to write. As a mom to three boys, working a full-time job and a side hustle with the company I run with my husband, I get it. My spouse works out of town most of the year, so I am the lone parent during the week, nights and weekends. There is no such thing as “free time” for me. There’s always a cost. My mom once told me, if you need help, ask a busy mom. It’s true. Busy people are used to managing their days efficiently. My best friend is a widowed, working (outside of household labour) mother of four, and she makes time for anyone who needs her. Somehow, she produces more hours in the day.

As writers, we often feel the need to have a perfect environment for writing: the right time of day, a quiet place, a comfy chair, and a hot beverage. But these requirements can hinder our progress. What if we can’t arrange for these conditions? Do we (gasp!) not write? Learning to adapt and work around obstacles is something I’ve grown to embrace. Life happens, and we can’t let it impede our creativity. We are busy people and it’s hard to carve out a solid hour to sit at our notebooks, typewriters, or computers. The time to write comes in bursts, with a panic that sets in when our ideas threaten to evaporate while we are stuck in traffic, in the shower, or trying to fall asleep. These moments of anxiety, the fear of losing creative inspiration, are when I grab my phone and jot down another weird paragraph into the Notes app, or scribble on the school permission form while I’m making dinner. It’s that urgency that pushes us to straddle our desk chairs like Tori Amos on a piano bench, playing the keyboard until the words are all there, in harmony. We need this stress. It’s what makes the writing matter, what gives it a heartbeat when the banality of the everyday threatens to flatline our spirits.

These very obstacles to my writing propel me into a heightened desire to get the words down, something an empty afternoon at a quiet desk wouldn’t accomplish. Without making the most of my time, there’s no reason to squeeze the words from my brain while I sit in the car, waiting for my sons to get out of school or lean over the kitchen counter with a pen and paper for four minutes and 23 seconds until the oven timer goes off.

I’m a planner. I like order and lists and calendars with everyone’s commitments colour coded. Control freak? Probably. Periodically neurotic? Maybe. Despite these realities, the chaos is a necessity for me to write effectively. Let me paint a picture: you have come into great wealth, so much that you buy clothing from the world’s most expensive and exclusive designers. You have dedicated shoe closets built to house more footwear than Imelda Marcos. Also, you wear these outfits anywhere, at anytime, to do anything you like. In this scenario, you will have choices to make, but there will be little creativity involved. When you are on a tight budget, sifting through racks at the thrift store and buying your underwear on Amazon (not naming names here), you must make do to come up with ideas that make it all work, to create something from nothing and make an outfit from the materials you have at your disposal. After that comes the innovation required to have a good time on a shoestring. This takes creativity and resourcefulness, qualities every writer needs. When the life of your writing practice hinges on those moments between the duties of parenthood, employment, errands, side hustles, and health challenges, that’s when the urgency will push it to be remarkable.

This idea applies to so many creatives, whether the work is for personal satisfaction or as a career. There are never enough hours,

and that doesn’t have to be bad. If, despite all this, the words still won’t come, pick up a book. Remember that annoying expression your first boss used to bellow: if you have time to lean, you have time to clean? I prefer the more writerly: if you have time to look (at your phone or a TV), you have time for a book. Yes, it’s nerdy, but you know it’s true. Reading as much as you can is essential to evolving as a writer. It’s also part of being involved in your literary community. I carry a book with me everywhere and average three to four books read per month. It’s doable. It’s a choice. Your fellow writers need you more than Netflix does.

Make the most of those little moments for writing and reading and they will add up to tangible progress. Being busy exposes you to more people, more ideas, and situations. Sounds like the ingredients of a good story to me.

Heidi Klaassen is a Calgary-based writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, Living Hyphen, Literary Heist, Alberta Views, and The Sprawl Her personal essay, “Been Caught Stealing: Life Inside The Lorraine,” was a finalist for the 2021 Digital Publishing Awards. Klaassen is the program director for the Alexandra Writers’ Centre. For more information about the author, visit heidiklaassen.com.

Life happens, and we can’t let it impede our creativity. We are busy people and it’s hard to carve out a solid hour to sit at our notebooks, typewriters, or computers.


By the time you read this, we will have made it through our September annual general meeting and elected a new board of directors to officially start governing us for the next year. We will have seen how it worked out to hold an in-person AGM in Calgary while also allowing members to join in remotely, which will help us refine the format for the coming years. Thank you to everyone who participated in the AGM, who put their name forward to serve on the board, and who has hung in during the pandemic and been a part of the WGA community.

The lingering uncertainty can still make it challenging to write, or to even determine what you want to write about, never mind actively participate in the community. For this issue of WestWord, we put the question out to members about how their writing has been going during the pandemic. The answers include anecdotes of struggling to get words out, overcoming the block or the slog, and different directions a writing project may have gone in. Featuring members’ answers to questions about their writing life in WestWord is a way we can continue to talk about our writing and inspire each other to keep going. I enjoy seeing these snapshots into members’ writing lives and wondering what the finished work will one day look like.

For more inspiration, I’m happy to report that the Horizons Writers Circle is returning this year, thanks to a grant from the Edmonton Community Foundation, and I want to welcome Luciana Erregue-Sacchi back as the program’s coordinator. This program helps writers from the BIPOC, ESL, immigrant, or other underrepresented communities establish themselves in the Edmonton writing scene with mentorship and resources. Throughout its history, Horizons has been a valuable program to empower underrepresented writers to create literary works and encourage diversity in Alberta literature. The Horizons program will include a public reading of participants’ works, and at least one workshop open to the public. I encourage you to watch for the announcement of Horizons’ public events in WriteClick and participate if you are able. Participation helps support these emerging Edmonton authors and their work, but can also provide new inspiration for your writing.

Another initiative we are involved in for the fall is the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal Program. The WGA has been given 15 medals to recognize outstanding contributions to Alberta’s literary world. Please see our website for the nomination process, and consider nominating a notable Alberta author, or someone who has advocated for the advancement of Alberta writing. Because of the international scope of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, this is an opportunity for wider exposure of Alberta writing. We will present the medals at our December holiday parties in Edmonton and Calgary, so recipients may attend at the most convenient location.

We seem to have fully eased into a combination of in-person and online programming, which should give you options depending on whether you want to venture into winter weather. I hope the WGA’s fall and winter activities will help jump-start a lot of amazing writing!



In the same vein as a tree falling in the forest, if a president’s message is written but nobody reads it, does it really exist?

I guess we’ll never know. Because you’re reading it now.

Between this writing and your reading, the September AGM will have happened—a new board will be in place, my political machinations will have come to naught, and the world will be once more at peace. And I never got to implement my WGA Sovereignty Act. Thank you to Giorgia Severini and the rest of the hardworking staff for arranging the information and handling the logistics for the AGM. Thank you to all who attended, live or online. And thank you to all who put your names forward for the board. As a volunteer organization, we rely heavily on the expertise and commitment of our members.

A new five-year strategic plan is now in place, allowing the new board to begin immediately to implement improvements to programming, as well as targeting budget and membership growth.

And, as long as we’re filling the page with announcements, the Province of Alberta has also asked the WGA to manage the literary portion of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medals. Although there are some acknowledged problematic historical aspects to this award, their ultimate purpose is to celebrate writers who have contributed significantly to the arts. After much discussion at the board level, it was felt that it was important to ensure the artistic integrity of the awards and that this was best accomplished by taking a corresponding leadership role. Writers deserve better than another “essay competition.” Accordingly, the call went out in August for volunteers to join the nomination committee. At the time of your reading, requests for nominations have also gone out, and the work has begun.

In closing, this may be my last president’s message, assuming the AGM went as planned and brighter minds than mine have taken the reins. If so, thank you for this opportunity to represent the WGA. The money is still where you left it, and I don’t think I broke anything. I look forward to assisting the incoming president from my comfortable past president’s pew in the back row. And if I’m still president after the AGM—what the hell is wrong with you people!?

Blaine Newton is an Edmonton playwright, sketch and fiction writer, improviser and sometime engineer.

A new five-year strategic plan is now in place, allowing the new board to begin immediately to implement improvements to programming, as well as targeting budget and membership growth.



This information is of a general nature only. It does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. The reader should seek advice from a lawyer pertaining to any particular fact situation.

As part of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s (WGA) project to update its website, I revisited the Intellectual Property FAQ page. In this primer, the third in a series, I provide updated answers to the WGA’s FAQ page questions that touch on incorporating the contributions of others into your writing. I also pose and answer other frequent questions about digital publications.

Here are the FAQ page questions and responses:

been deceased for 50 (or 70) years, then the author’s or other owner’s permission to use that work must be sought and obtained.

• Fair dealing exceptions. Consider whether any of the time-honoured exceptions of research, private study, criticism and review, and news reporting, applies to your work. Further, if your work is satire or parody, then you likely fall under a fair dealing exception. Another recently added exception, educational purposes, is more controversial and should not be relied upon. The breadth of this exception has not been determined. You should seek a lawyer’s opinion before assuming fair dealing applies. Even if fair dealing applies, “giving credit,” or attribution rules, may well apply.

Subject to a few exceptions within the Copyright Act, you may not use copyrightprotected work in your writing, even if with attribution, unless you have been granted permission from the copyright owner.

Here are a few exceptions:

• Work that is out of copyright. Copyright in a work subsists for the life of the author plus 50 years (soon to be 70 years once the new law is proclaimed in force). Assuming the author of a work is alive or has not

• Non-commercial user-generated content. This is sometimes called the “mash-up” exception, so-called to protect “mash-ups” of video and audio clips from many sources. However, it’s conceivable that a literary work could also be a “mash-up.” Many conditions are attached to this exception—the first one being that no income can be earned from the copyright-protected work. Again, seek a lawyer’s opinion before assuming this exception applies.



The written permission of the interviewees should always be obtained before interview material is used. The written consent form should set forth the specific uses of the interview material. The law respecting privacy rights is still developing and great caution should be exercised in using interview material.


Creators must be mindful of defamation laws, specifically libel with written works. Defamation is a complex area of law, and so the basic premise that “truth is an absolute defence” should not be relied upon. You and your publisher should obtain legal advice before publishing works that could be perceived as reflecting adversely upon another person, or as depriving a person of his or her right to privacy. Even fictional works can be vulnerable to defamation claims.

Questions on using the work of others, and copyright relating to digital works

Here are some frequent questions and answers regarding digital publications:


Copyright does not differentiate between types of publication. The law is the same regardless of the method of publication.


The answer depends upon the wording of the publishing agreement or contract.

If your contract pre-dates the digital era, it’s possible your contract doesn’t mention electronic publication at all. In that case, there is not likely to be an e-book publication right. However, where the contract refers vaguely to the author granting “electronic rights” to the publisher, or where the contract grants broad publishing rights to the work in any media, the author may then wonder whether that includes e-books.

The law in this area is not well settled. A publisher could be justified in distributing a hard copy work in a digital format so long as the publishing agreement contained some reference to electronic rights, and so long as the publisher did not reproduce the article in a format that differs from the original publication. For example, reproducing a book word-for-word may be permissible assuming the right contractual language, but reproducing a newspaper article without the rest of the newspaper in an online publication may not be permitted.

If you are concerned about e-book publication of your work, make sure you locate your publishing contract and show it to a lawyer for advice. You would also wish to look at the payment section of the contract to determine what royalties you would earn on e-book sales. Typically, the percentage owed to the author should be

higher than for print publication, since e-book publication is much cheaper. Further, your lawyer will look at the reversionary rights paragraph to determine whether your book is out of print and therefore whether all rights in the book, including electronic rights, have reverted to you.


Copyright covers social media posts so long as they meet the three conditions for copyright protection: originality (a work must result from your own creativity), expression of an idea (not the idea itself), and fixation (the work must be fixed in a material format, such as paper, video

and audio recordings, or hard drives and memory cards).

Some social media posts are simply reposting of others’ content, with little original words added. Such posts would not likely meet the condition of originality. Most social media platforms dictate how they may use your social media content. Check the “terms and conditions” page of their websites, which may allow re-posting. The media platform usually has a complaint alert mechanism allowing content owners to report infringements.

Jeananne Kirwin, Q.C., a lawyer in Edmonton, practices in the areas of intellectual property and corporate/commercial law with an emphasis on trademark and copyright registration and enforcement (kirwinllp.com). a Gariépy your article For details

Got an idea for an article related to the craft of writing or the writing life?
query or article to editor Raymond
(editor@writersguild.ab.ca). We suggest
be between 900 and 1,250 words in length.
and submission guidelines, visit writersguild.ca.


I am a writer and a writer writes. A writer also has to feed her child. I’m not wired to write exclusively about things that have no relevance to me (but who is?), which means I am stuck walking the line between writing honestly about things I care about, but not too honestly. I try not to share information that might cause my kiddo difficulty later (like embarrassment with peers) or potentially harm our relationship. But I’m still going to write about the hard parts of my life, as well as parenting and family life. It comes with risks, but also rewards. After all, I’m capturing parts of my life—and hers— that she may be curious about one day. I’m crossing my fingers.



On the privacy dilemmas of the parent-writer

In the time it took me to run to the bathroom, my kid progressed from chewing on board books to devouring YA novels. (Parenting changes the laws of space and time.)

Suddenly, she was asking questions like, “What’s a mausoleum?” and “What the hell is microfiche?” I wondered if I ought to be reading my six-year-old a book about a library-loving goth girl solving the murder of a ghost child, but she’d picked out the Dead Kid Detective Agency series (Evan Munday) from the library herself—and Canadian content, no less!

Since toddlerhood, books have entertained and soothed my kiddo. She was a kid who couldn’t wait 30 seconds for her turn on the slide, but could spend hours with me, cuddled up with books. As long as I kept the books coming. As a young child,

she’d pretend to read and make things up; by the time she reached kindergarten, she began to read for real and would insist on reading parts of books to me. But by Grade 1, she was becoming resistant to reading aloud when asked. Her teacher assigned home reading and, suddenly, she needed to be coaxed to practice her reading in either English or French (she’s in French Immersion).

I figured my stubborn seven-year-old needed some motivation to learn to read independently.

One day, it came to me.

I began, “Did you know that once you can read on your own, you can read literally anything you want?”

She looked up at me, uncharacteristically quiet and wide-eyed, as if to say, “Please go on, Mother.”


I pulled a book off of the bookshelf—I think it was I’m Afraid of Men (Vivek Shraya)—and began flipping through the first few pages. “For instance, this book—is just full of swear words.” I pointed out a couple of F-bombs in the text: “See?”

Like an opportunistic raccoon steals a tourist’s sandwich, my kid ripped the book out of my hands. “Oh-oh-oh! What letter does it start with? An ‘F’?” She burst into maniacal laughter only a child can produce.

A year later, she was well on her way to reading (and swearing) in both official languages.


When the kid was close to crawling, we child-proofed the electrical outlets, toilet, and refrigerator. Now that she was seven and well on her way to literacy and actively looking for things to read, I began childproofing the bookshelves. I boxed up the dodgy graphic novels, books on eating disorders and cancer, and my cherished copy of Go the F**k to Sleep (Adam Mansbach), among others.

One day, I was sitting on the couch with my laptop, attempting to work as the kid played, when she ran over to the bookshelf: “NO FAT… CHEEKS? WHAT IS THIS MAMA?” (The book was No Fat Chicks: How Women Are Brainwashed to Hate their Bodies, by Terry Poulton.) She stood there, turning her head sideways to read the spine, before yanking the volume out of the shelf and gazing upon the cover, which featured Rubens’ The Three Graces “Oh my gosh, these ladies are naked!” she gasped. And then I tried—and failed—to explain the book’s feminist premise.

Although it wasn’t a big deal, it should’ve prompted a better child-proofing of not only the bookshelves, but our devices. Years ago, I’d set the controls to block porn, weird music, social media, and Amazon Prime. I was overconfident, like a parent who sets up a baby gate at the top of a flight of stairs and forgets there’s another set of stairs leading to the basement. And you don’t want kiddo in the basement.

A few months later, after kiddo had turned eight, I’d given her my phone so she could play music in the car. After a beat—in which I assumed she was scanning playlists—she began reading my text messages aloud. Specifically, a tense exchange with my co-parent. “Give me the phone!” I screamed, flailing behind my seat with one arm. Somehow, I kept the car on the road until I could pull over and confiscate the thing.


That the kid could now read things I’d written—and not just text messages, but magazine articles on adult topics and personal essays—was terrifying. Over the years, I’ve written about pretty traumatic experiences, like cancer and pregnancy loss, in a raw, direct fashion. Entirely intended for grown-ups.

My daughter knows I had a miscarriage, and that I had cancer. But she doesn’t know the darkest corners of these experiences because I’m her mother and I try not to warp her. It had occurred to me while writing these pieces that my kid might come across them someday, but as an adult. Not a child. I was naïve.

I didn’t realize how quickly kids learn to navigate technology and couldn’t imagine my child having any interest in my writing. For

She’d used Google to search my name. Because mine is the kid who will use the Internet to dig up dirt on her mother. Finally, I grasped the full gravity of what it meant for my child to read and for me to be a writer with a kid.

years, she’d hardly asked me what I did for work. I figured she wouldn’t want to read my writing any more than she would my T1 General.

And that might have been true had she been a different kind of kid. Or had I not extolled the virtues of reading to access adult stuff kids shouldn’t read (worst idea ever)? About a year after the texting incident, I ran to the bathroom and left my daughter — now nine years old — playing Roblox.

I heard her yelling from the other room: “Oh my GOD, Mama! This is so cringey!” Tablet in hand, she stomped into the bathroom (I was still on the toilet) to play a YouTube interview I’d done with a writer friend many years ago. “You’re so awkward, Mama!”

Yes, she’d used Google to search my name. Because mine is the kid who will use the Internet to dig up dirt on her mother. Finally, I grasped the full gravity of what it meant for my child to read and for me to be a writer with a kid.

I remind myself that my kid will not find everything I’ve ever

who doesn’t always want to explain her family situation, and it isn’t helpful for me as a parent who doesn’t want to share every detail of her life with her child.

I can’t do much about what I’ve written, but it’s changed what I write and publish. The memoir I wrote as my MFA thesis is still sitting on the proverbial shelf. It has content that I’m okay with her reading as an adult, but not as a child. It could risk the health of her relationships with me and others in her life.

So, there are things I will not write about now (or, at least, publish) because they are not in my child’s best interest. Parental instincts supersede writerly instincts.


I am a writer and a writer writes. A writer also has to feed her child. I’m not wired to write exclusively about things that have no relevance to me (but who is?), which means I am stuck walking the line between writing honestly about things I care about, but not too honestly. I try not to share information that might cause

COVER FEATURE W R I T E R S G U I L D O F A L B E R T A 2 0 2 3 A L B E R T A L I T E R A R Y A W A R D S C A L L F O R J U R O R S D E A D L I N E : O C T O B E R 2 8 W R I T E R S G U I L D . C A The WGA is calling all avid readers, writers, teachers, students, or people who just straight up love literature to join our awards jury this season. This is an opportunity to be “in the room” when the 2023 finalists and winners are chosen. OCTOBER – DECEMBER 202211


Mastering the move from in-person to online

If necessity is the mother of invention, my pandemic pivot gave birth to a litter. Before COVID-19 changed my life, I enjoyed working as a kids’ author. When I wasn’t writing in my home office, I toured schools and libraries across Canada, taught writing workshops at conferences, and shared insights with fellow authors on writers’ panels.

My favourite part of the job was the book talks for students. Kindergarten kids howled as I explained how my stress-farting cat inspired the picture book True Story. Pure joy. A fifth-grader’s face lit up when I said I liked their story idea. Magic. Bored eighthgraders turned into eager fans of my thriller play, The Bone House. A miracle.

I didn’t even mind the hassles of being on the road. It was fun explaining to airport security how the handcuffs in my carry-on were part of the presentation for Demon Gate, my novel about a young Harry Houdini. I’m not sure if the security guards believed me or if they thought I had a fetish, but I loved their expressions when the handcuffs popped up on the X-ray scanner. While I wasn’t fond of sleeping under mysteriously stained sheets in sketchy motels, I appreciated the homemade cookies at the front desk.

Unfortunately, the pandemic turned my life upside down. Every booking I had lined up for the spring was postponed and then cancelled. At first, I assumed this touring hiatus would only last a few weeks, but soon I realized I needed to pivot to online. Initially, I resisted the move. I felt like the beginning writer who fought an editor’s notes. I liked what I had been doing and didn’t want to change.

But as I saw other authors Zoom-ing into book launches, book talks, and workshops, I realized that if I didn’t switch over, I’d be the guy who banked on Zune when everyone else was buying iPods. So, even though my computer expertise amounted to hitting the side of my computer when an app crashed, I started learning how to log into the virtual world.

Since most of my sessions were with schools and libraries, I focussed on creating online book talks for students. My early attempts failed miserably. In one session, my camera cut out, forcing me to rely on my iffy laptop microphone. During a kids’ panel for a conference, I forgot to unmute when it was my turn to

Unfortunately, the pandemic turned my life upside down. Every booking I had lined up for the spring was postponed and then cancelled. At first, I assumed this touring hiatus would only last a few weeks, but soon
I realized I needed to pivot to online.

speak. I blathered on for several minutes before the moderator asked me to turn on my mic. I offered juicy writing tips in a workshop for 10 minutes before the teacher emailed me and asked if I had clicked the wrong link. Turned out I was giving writing advice to an empty virtual room.

After a two-month learning curve, I finally sorted out my tech issues, but I still faced one major hurdle. As a virtual presenter, I was essentially presenting to SchrÖdinger’s cat. Were they there or not? Unfortunately, the kids’ reactions were non-existent because they were muted. Faced with silence after every joke, I felt I was doing a book talk at a library where the audience consisted of the librarian and the guy who just wanted to use the internet.

I worried how I was coming across to audiences. I wondered if people felt like the hapless tourists who had agreed to attend a never-ending time share pitch in exchange for a free night at the hotel. In person, I could move around the room, make eye contact with kids who might be losing interest, and adjust my pace.

Online, the audience’s relationship with me was with the screen, and my connection to them was through the webcam. This created an unnatural dynamic where I had to pretend the students were rapt with attention. When I tried to get the students to respond via chat, they just chatted with each other while the teacher posted messages to the kids to pay attention. To me, the problem wasn’t the audience. I needed to make my virtual session so enjoyable that the kids couldn’t look away.

Thankfully, I found a solution by taking a page from broadcast news. In a news program, the camera switched to different angles of the anchor while graphics scrolled across the screen. To break up the talking head feel, b-roll video clips played while the anchor delivered the news. If my sessions were closer to a news broadcast in the production value, I might have a shot at holding people’s attention.

I added better webcams and lights, so I didn’t look like a guy in a hostage video. I set up a backdrop to hide the red carpet and fake wood panel walls behind me, and I purchased a decent mic to improve my audio. But the real game changer came when I found software that let me switch camera angles, add graphics, and even bypass the dreaded share screen function on virtual platforms. The program I opted to use was Ecamm Live (for Mac only), but there were other options, such as OBS and vMix. Essentially, these programs, plus my tech equipment, gave me the ability to create the production value of a news broadcast.

The results were impressive. Teachers sent me notes after raving how kids who had bought out of virtual learning couldn’t stop talking about my presentation. A parent contacted me to see if I could do a virtual session for her son’s birthday party. Some of my audiences even thought they were watching a pre-recorded video because I could switch between camera angles and video footage smoothly.

In a few weeks, I went from having no prospects of any in-person sessions to virtual presentations almost every day of the school year. I was doing five to eight sessions a day during my busiest time. Once, I did online sessions for schools in Iqaluit, Toronto, Moose Jaw, Calgary, and Japan—all on the same day. I never had to leave the comfort of my basement

office; in fact, all I had to do was click the next virtual meeting link, and I was in a different school, ready to inspire a new audience.

Once the world returns to pre-pandemic activities, I don’t know if I’ll mothball my virtual sessions. I think there’s room for both in-person and virtual presentations, but authors will have to recognize that the online medium is different, and they’ll have to adapt accordingly. While an author can shift the room’s energy by changing who they make eye contact with, virtual presenters will have to find different ways to change the dynamic. You’d be amazed at how simply switching from one camera angle to another can make a virtual audience perk up. And if you add a few graphics or videos to underscore your presentation, you can create the kind of online session people will never forget.

Don’t be overwhelmed by this new form of engagement. While there is a steep learning curve, online sessions are easier to embrace when you realize virtual audiences want the same thing in-person audiences do: an author to tell a great story.

Marty Chan writes plays for adults, books for kids, and tweets for fun. His latest novel, Final Cut, is available in bookstores. He works and lives in Edmonton with his wife Michelle and their cats, Minnie and Hugo.

Once the world returns to pre-pandemic activities, I don’t know if I’ll mothball my virtual sessions. I think there’s room for both in-person and virtual presentations, but authors will have to recognize that the online medium is different, and they’ll have to adapt accordingly.



Jesse Lipscomb, a Black actor and activist in Edmonton, started a movement five years ago called Make It Awkward. It is about confronting racism in a way that leads to conversation and not hurtful words.

Earlier this year, after submitting my usual 2,500 words to my writing critique group, I made the difficult decision to embrace Lipscomb’s philosophy and challenge racism after I mulled over members’ feedback.

I joined the group shortly after my novel Oil Change at Rath’s Garage was published in 2017. While our numbers have varied over the years, I have remained the only person of colour. I’m South Asian. At first, it wasn’t an issue. But in the last few years, I’ve had a personal awakening. “Awakening” doesn’t mean racism is new to me. Awakening means permitting myself to acknowledge by name what happened/happens to me.

COVID-19, being out of work for a couple of months, and tuning into CBC News Network all day played into this awareness. But by this point, it wasn’t just my awakening. It was happening across Canada and the United States. Black Lives Matter, Every Child Matters,

reconciliation, Black, Indigenous and People Of Colour (BIPOC), inclusivity and diversity became buzzwords. It felt like we were on the cusp of real change.

I reflected on growing up on the prairies, one of less than a handful of racialized families in my tiny town. I tried to write about my experience in an essay but found it difficult to express these feelings in “I” sentences.

The response I received from my writing group astonished me. The pages I submitted focussed on Rose, the South Asian proprietor of the small-town bed and breakfast. In one incident, a white guest asks Rose about her nationality.

“Cliché,” remarked a group member. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked that question, gritting my teeth and stubbornly responding, “Canadian.” NARINE

At the time, I was into the next draft of a novel. I changed some of my characters— both to represent the discrimination that racialized Canadians face regularly and the racism I had experienced growing up.

In another scene, Rose reminisces about her youth and how the hairdressers in town said they could do nothing to make her too-curly hair “respectable.” An older Rose prepares for the day by looking at

But not today
The response I received from my writing group astonished me. The pages I submitted focussed on Rose, the South Asian proprietor of the small-town bed and breakfast. In one incident, a white guest asks Rose about her nationality.
“Cliché,” remarked a group member.

the hair products she needs to tame her hair. One member said, “boring.”

I let it go. But in my next month’s submission. I tackled Rose’s depression. Group members commented on Rose’s failing business, failing marriage, inability to have children, and inability to fit into the small town. Not one person mentioned the subtle racism she lived with that seeped into her soul and informed almost everything she did.

Had my writing been so poor that I had failed to bring this aspect of Rose’s life to my pages? I had written about Rose’s desire to slide through her high school days without being noticed. How Rose found the word “exotic” to be othering. How Rose felt “pigeon-holed” in the small town. How she didn’t dare expand her tearoom menu to include South Asian delicacies.

I employed Lipscomb’s Make It Awkward over a Zoom call (COVID precautions) with the group. I asked: Why didn’t anybody talk about racism in this passage? But there were so many other issues Rose faced, they said. I tried to make them understand that racism is like abuse and colours (no pun intended) everything you do. That racism made Rose self-conscious, and led to her lack of self-confidence, was underpinning her depression.

A couple of my fellow writers said they weren’t comfortable commenting on the racism Rose experienced because they were not people of colour. I explained all they had to do was acknowledge it.

Some members got defensive.

After this difficult exchange, I contemplated how to move forward. That’s not something Lipscomb covered. I felt brushed aside by my members. I felt dismissed. I felt they said, “We don’t believe you.”

Before our next meeting, I learned a white writer requested to join the group. The idea of having to defend—because that was how I thought of it—my characters, their lives, their experiences to another

white writer was exhausting. But I gave my nod of approval. When we Zoomed before the new writer joined, I requested that our next member be BIPOC. I received excuses why this was unlikely to happen. They made no efforts to brainstorm.

Once the lid is off the box, you can’t put it back on. Not that I wanted to. I emailed the members, saying I was bowing out.

Should I have quit? No. It’s a conversation that needs to happen repeatedly. It was a stark reminder that I, like many BIPOC, was naïve in thinking that the battle for

change would get easier. It disheartened me to understand that this fight that was personal for me had not created the allies (another buzzword) that I thought had come from the last two years of widespread racial struggles.

The sad reality is this—something I reminded my group about—white voices carry weight. Black, Indigenous and People of Colour know that.

Shari Narine is the author of Oil Change at Rath’s Garage. She is a short story writer, book reviewer and long-time journalist. She edits nonfiction for Harbour Publishing/Douglas & McIntyre. Narine resides in Edmonton. Mentorship

Program Deadline: October 17 writersguild.ca 15 OCTOBER – DECEMBER 2022


Writing our relationships to place

When my mother and her older sister fled Tanzania alone as children, they had no idea that they’d taken the first step down a long road of language loss. While their country evaporated in the time it took their plane to cross to England, my mother lost Kutchi in bits and pieces along a string of disjointed years, first in England, then Toronto, and eventually in Alberta.

My parents made the unenviable decision that so many immigrant parents are forced to make: which language will serve—which one will be taught and retained—and which will be set aside. As children, my brother and sister and I were raised in English and schooled part-time in French, but we learned, too, the gaps of a language in

the process of disappearing. Kutchi existed barely at all in our mother’s life in 1980s Alberta, in an all-white community that simultaneously did not see her and yet cast an othering spotlight on her. The language of her birth existed solely when she picked up the phone to call her mother, and for the space of half an hour, we heard her relax fully into her voice, a fluency and delight she never developed in English. With the language came the stories, too, of her family and of the land she grew up with. In the space of these short phone calls, our mother’s sense of self, and of place, gained an expansiveness.

When I write in English, my first language, there is always a pause and a listening in me for something that does not speak back: my mother’s language, and through that, the land she carries with her, and her relationship with a place she will never return to. I feel as though my entire act of writing is simultaneously an act of attending, of considering how language anchors me in—or disconnects me from—place and the lexicons for place, for land. I listen hard to the words I have for place, to those that come from where I live, and to those words that limp behind the things they describe.

I believe our relationships to place in our own lives find representation in how we write the land. Perhaps we feel as though we have little right to belong to a place, and this surfaces as a blankingout of sorts of the land in our writing, our ambivalence emerging as a general

When I write in English, my first language, there is always a pause and a listening in me for something that does not speak back: my mother’s language, and through that, the land she carries with her, and her relationship with a place she will never return to.

I am curious about our emotions when we write of the land and the water— place. How often are we deeply aware of the ways we feel about the land in which, and against which, our stories unfurl? If we haven’t sat with those emotions, what consternation (or what silencing) are we introducing into our work that we may not have intended when we write about land? Is writing the land and the more-than-human world as easy as breathing (does it narrate itself alongside the human story?), or are we invoking land in a one-dimensional way, as backdrop only?

background blur against which our narratives are set. Perhaps we are deeply tied to a place across multiple languages and cultures, and our lexicons for land are rich and nuanced, the more-than-human world shown clearly as its own set of characters and with its deep knowledges. Whether we are actively engaging with the land in our work or not, our writing always reveals something about the dialogue we’re having—or the silences we’re holding—around our relationship with land.

I think often about our responsibilities to land in how we invoke it in our work. When we represent land in our writing, when we build a setting or unfurl a plot, what is our responsibility to land, to place? Do we know and invoke land in as complex and full a way as we build characters, or are only the human relationships in our works fully fleshed out? Is place always in service to us in our writing, or are we reciprocally attentive to it when we invoke it?

How are we listening for land in our work, and do we hold space for it in meaningful ways?

Chances are, you’ve heard of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s best-known book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. A mother, a much-lauded professor, scientist, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potowatomi Nation, she speaks at length and inclusively of building and sustaining a meaningful

relationship, a reciprocal link, with the land. She speaks, too, of the difficulty many of us have in invoking land, particularly if we are not of that place, and of the necessity of finding resonant connection because our lives, and those of our children and grandchildren, will depend on how we form and live out those connections.

As I think about forming and living out those links, I think of the ways in which our relationships to land, and increasingly to water, are highly politicized. Poet Rita Wong, in her book monkeypuzzle, connects the Three Gorges Dam to the damaging constraint of both people and water by political drive. Politics, for her, came secondarily to writing with and about the land and water, but the more she entered into dialogue with place, the more intricately she found herself bound to political action to live honestly with/in place. Similarly, in river woman, poet and novelist Katherena Vermette digs deeply into connection, and responsibility, to place. The book is in dialogue with the Red River, linking the river to the bodies of women, and specifically to the bodies of Indigenous women in both a lyric and politically charged way. In the book, the river is inseparable from the human, the woman; even as we’ve polluted it and altered it, it still underpins and encompasses us. We can no more extricate ourselves from the watercourse than we can from our blood.

We are writers; we deal in language, in rich and specific words. I wonder how much of what we feel about land, and how we speak with it or silence it in our writing, has to do with our lexicons for place. In Landmarks, British writer and naturalist Robert Macfarlane notes that “language deficit leads to attention deficit,” and that we are far more likely to engage with and act in service of places with which we have profound linguistic relationships. He speaks of land in connection with a sense of enchantment— and no, I don’t mean the fairy-tale sense of the term. Rather, he breaks the word down into its parts: en-chant, to sing our relationship with the land back into being where it has been lost.

Perhaps we can do the same in our work, writing and dialoguing mindfully with the land, learning lexicons of place and invoking more thoughtfully, with right intention, the more-thanhuman world.

Jenna Butler is a writer and off-grid farmer in northern Treaty 6 territory. She is a professor of creative writing and environmental writing, and the author of three books of poetry, two collections of ecological essays, and a travelogue. Revery: A Year of Bees was a finalist for the 2021 Governor General’s Literary Award in Non-Fiction.

We are writers; we deal in language, in rich and specific words. I wonder how much of what we feel about land, and how we speak with it or silence it in our writing, has to do with our lexicons for place.



The Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s Horizons Writers Circle, under the coordination of publisher and writer Luciana Erregue-Sacchi, is a program for writers within the Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour community, ESL, and underrepresented writers who live in Edmonton and are at the beginning of their literary journey. Participants are mentored by established writers in Edmonton. The program aims to introduce new writers to the wider community, make new contacts in the industry, and help them thrive in their writing careers. For more information, visit the WGA website, writersguild.ca.

• • Luciana Erregue-Sacchi sat down with Meghan Eaker and Rayanne Haynes to chat about their participation in the Horizons Writers Circle mentorship program and their award-winning poetry. Eaker won the 2022 Indigenous Voices Award in the Unpublished Poetry category, and Haynes’ poetry volume, Tell the birds your body is not a gun (Frontenac House 2021), edited by Micheline Maylor, won the 2022 Alberta Literary Award for poetry, and at the time of this writing, is a finalist in the 2022 Book Publishers Association of Alberta Awards.

Luciana Erregue-Sacchi:

I wonder if you would like to introduce yourselves to our readership, Rayanne, you are one of the pivotal figures in Edmonton’s local literary scene, you were executive director of the Edmonton Poetry Festival, and you have held different writer in residence positions, but tell us something you would like readers to know about you right now. Meghan, where did your interest in weaving Indigenous languages and culture within the realm of public health stem from?

Meghan Eaker: Iatamisatinawow kahkeyaw (greetings, all). My interest in storytelling, language and culture, in relation to health, comes from my experiences as a patient in the mental health system, as a registered nurse who worked for a time in child psychiatry, and a relative of many Indigenous people who have had horrific and otherwise negative experiences in colonial health systems. Working as an Indigenous nurse with Indigenous patients in these health systems was morally exhausting for me since I was always prevented from caring for my relatives in

the ways that I wanted to by the imperative of professionalism. Writing and story sharing is a way I have finally found to express my care in ways that do not infringe upon our relationality. I’m so excited to learn more about the power of stories in helping us better learn how to live well together.

Rayanne Hayes: First, thank you, Luciana, for saying this! I’m in awe of all you do for writers, including creating your new publishing house. I’m learning how to be a slow writer, right now. This is a term I first heard from my friend Lisa Martin. I’m becoming more interested in spending time with my words before putting them down on the page. I think it’s making me a more reflective writer rather than reactive, which I need right now.

LES: When did you know you wanted to write poetry?

ME: I was never particularly interested in poetry until 2017, when I read Billy-Ray Belcourt’s This Wound is a World. Even then it never occurred to me that I could write; I was happy being a fan of the Indigenous poets I encountered

In conversation with Rayanne Haynes and Meghan Eaker

from then on. I went to a small reading Billy-Ray did at the Aboriginal Student Council lounge (on the day Gerald Stanley was acquitted of the murder of Colten Boushie), and I asked if writing was a therapeutic process for him. I remember this question because it ended up being a projection of my own writing practice that spontaneously appeared several years later. So perhaps my subconscious was preparing to become a poet long before I ever became aware of it. Now I can’t even imagine not writing poetry because it has become how I process everything that happens in my life and the world around me.

RH: Poetry became the focus about ten years ago. I’d written in other forms previously, but in 2012, I became the executive director of the Edmonton Poetry Festival. Being surrounded by poets daily focused my interest in the art form. I found I could say more with poems than I could with other forms. I loved the expansiveness poetry offered me while also asking for more efficiency from me in my writing voice.

LES: What is your subject position when it comes to your poetry work? And by that, I mean your focus, and who you are as a writer.

ME: My poetic practice emerges almost entirely from my attempts to make sense of my lived experiences, as a white-skinned, middle-class, queer, mentally ill, mixed nehiyaw and white iskwew in relation to the lives of my relatives and friends. I grew up spending equal amounts of time, after my parents got divorced, with my white settler dad and my mixed nehiyaw and white mom. Some of my white friends have commented that I talk about race a lot and I think that’s interesting because my poetry

has been trying to voice what was unvoiced and omnipresent in my childhood. How was I supposed to be okay with the fact that my darker-skinned and/or lowerclass Indigenous relatives were treated worse than me? Why was my mom “the bad parent” even though she only ever loved me and my siblings unconditionally? Why was I expected to be ashamed of nôhkompan’s reserve? Poetry helps me work through these questions and learn how to eject these colonial modes of living and relating.

RH: I am centred on questioning the women’s story. This often sits within interrogating a history of hierarchical violence against women and the queer community. Further to this, the focus of much of my writing is based on the woman’s lens and intersections of mental health around depression and anxiety. That lens has shifted as my own lived experiences shift. Often my writing appears to look inward, but in all I do, I’m constantly asking how that inward lens is reflected by the outward gaze. I’ve been called a confessional poet though I rebel against that label as I think it undermines the importance of the push and pull between the internal and external. This interplay grounds my artistic practice within the modes of intersectionality which are structural, political, and representational.

LES: How does trauma figure in your literature, in your writing and creative life, and what type of trauma does your work highlight?

ME: I used to define myself by my trauma; the frame I was given by a colonial world to understand Indigeneity and difference. Now I am less interested in talking about trauma than about the

social construction of madness and how we collectively interpret violence and its effects. This shift in my perspective was thanks to many Indigenous, Black, and queer poets, particularly Audre Lorde and Billy-Ray Belcourt, from whom I learned the liberatory power of poetry. My poetry is the by-product of trying to feel out how to live in a society that socializes us (and everyone else) to accept Indigenous genocide as “normal,” “natural” and/or “inevitable.” Poetry helped me realize that my experience of mental illness is not a reflection of my own inherent defectiveness but of living in a world that is full of violence and white lies (that are not at all innocent or well-meaning) and platitudes about that violence. I am grateful to be freer from the shackles of a sanity that was most often a constant compliance with a violent past seeking to secure its continued legacy.

RH: My latest poetry collection, Tell the birds your body is not a gun , moved through trauma and healing around a child’s suicidal behaviour, my experiences with depression, and intergenerational family trauma. I think however that for me, my writing is less about centering trauma and more about being vulnerable to those moments and experiences. I don’t want to deny my own lived experience or shy away from the violent complexities that women’s, LGBTQ+ bodies are still forced to live in.

LES: Meghan, you were a Horizons Writers Circle mentee. How did the program help you develop your writing practice? And how did Rayanne’s mentorship reflect in your poetry?

ME: Working with Rayanne helped me technically with some


aspects of my writing, but more important, she helped me be able to think of myself as a writer. My writing is very intuitive, and Rayanne helped me learn how to approach my work in ways that didn’t let my internal negative self-talk take over. One time shortly after ending the program, I was editing a piece and I heard Rayanne’s voice in my head suggesting how to edit the line breaks (the word “ enjambment ” floats in my mind; I asked her to repeat the word several times because I had never heard it, so I guess I have that one on record). It was nice to have her voice in my head because I feel very cared for by her and I love to talk and think, and even disagree with people with whom I can have meaningful relationships.

LES: Rayanne, due to the pandemic, our program had to run mainly virtually, which can be challenging when it comes to developing creative relationships, but as the other half of this mentorship, how did you approach getting to know Meghan as a writer and facilitate learning opportunities despite these limitations?

RH: Meghan and I met once in person, outside in a park just to be able to have that realworld connection. Pretty much every interaction after was online but I had an open-door policy. I wanted Meghan to feel comfortable reaching out whenever, about anything. So the mentorship became about building a foundation of trust rather than just looking at her poetry. I also expressed my own fears/truth to her—that as a

non-Indigenous person there may be times I wouldn’t be the best mentor for her. I think because of this openness between us, we could develop a respectful relationship organically. I also asked her what she wanted and needed rather than trying to place my agenda onto her. We made space for each other to just have conversations during the poetry critiques.

LES: What are your next professional steps?

ME: I’m hoping to publish my first full-length collection of poetry soon. I’m going to start submitting my manuscript to publishers this summer! I’m also very excited to continue and deepen the work I’ve started this past year of delivering workshops

Working with Rayanne helped me technically with some aspects of my writing, but more important, she helped me be able to think of myself as a writer.
I wanted Meghan to feel comfortable reaching out whenever, about anything. So the mentorship became about building a foundation of trust rather than just looking at her poetry.

on story sharing as collective healing and resistance. In the fall, I will be spending time learning more about story sharing practices for healing, activism, and community building in my Indigenous studies PhD program. I’m so grateful to be able to do this work that is deeply meaningful to me and to have the opportunity to learn with my communities the ways in which we can use stories to support each other in our daily work of survival.

RH: I’m currently the 2022 writer in residence for the Metro Edmonton Federation of Libraries. While in the role, I’m working on two new manuscripts: a poetry manuscript and a literary novel. In all honesty, I’d love to secure agent representation for the novel I’m working on and to find a way to have that published by one of the big five.

LES: What are your thoughts as to the future of programs like Horizons Writers Circle and Own Voices Calgary?

ME: As someone who came to poetry from outside the literary world, I am very passionate about the value of literature and storytelling beyond academic and literary communities. I am interested in the stories that will help us collectively face the challenges in our lives and I think the wisdom and stories that can do this will be nurtured through programs like the Horizons Writers Circle and Own Voices. In reflecting on my experience in the program, I am so grateful for how being part of the program helped me build a community of people that I can talk deeply and openly with about our lives and the world. I am so excited to be able to continue thinking and visiting with the

friends I made in this program because they help me learn how to live more kindly, fully, and joyfully. kinanaskomitinawow mistahi nitotemtik (I am so grateful for you, my friends).

RH: I hope they continue with secure and robust funding. I think these programs are invaluable for both the mentee and the mentor. I learned so much working with Meghan. Our province benefits when underrepresented voices are elevated. Rich, diverse, complex stories matter and who gets to tell those stories matters. Creating these pathways is vital to developing robust communities that are centered in valuing intersectionality.

LES: I am looking forward to reading more of your work, and seeing the recognition you both are receiving. Thank you for this conversation!

Luciana Erregue-Sacchi is the coordinator of the Horizons Writers Circle and the founder of Laberinto Press, Western Canada’s first press to publish writers whose first language is not English, and World Literature in translation.

Meghan Eaker (she/her; Woodland Cree First Nation) is an amiskwaciywâskahikan-based poet, registered nurse, and beading artist of mixed european and nehiyaw ancestry. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Indigenous studies at the University of Alberta studying story sharing as a practice towards miyo pimatisiwin (a good life).

Rayanne Haines (she/her) is an author, educator and cultural producer. She is the current writer in residence for the Metro Edmonton Federation of Libraries, the author of three poetry collections, and a four-part commercial market urban fantasy series. She hosts the literary podcast Crow Reads, is the VP for the League of Canadian Poets, and teaches with MacEwan University. Her collection, Tell the birds your body is not a gun was shortlisted for the ReLit Award and the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Award. She won the 2022 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry.

FEATURE O p e n i n g f o r s u b m i s s i o n s O c t o b e r 7 K e m o s a S c h o l a r s h i p f o r F i r s t N a t i o n s , M é t i s a n d I n u i t M o t h e r s W h o W r i t e 6 t h A n n u a l w r i t e r s g u i l d . c a 21 OCTOBER – DECEMBER 2022


Learning to read from a word thousands of years old

Some historians suggest it was during the 1532 odyssey expedition under Martim Afonso de Sousa when grape vines first made their way to Brazil. But plants from the Old World weren’t the only cargo being transported on Portuguese ships. From the early 1500s to 1888, an estimated five million Africans were chained and forcibly transported from the African continent. They all spoke different languages and dialects, and sometimes, they were even enemies from different tribes. But that didn’t matter to the Portuguese explorers, who only saw them as one thing: slaves. Once those Africans passed through the door of no return in West Africa, making the arduous 40- to 60-day transatlantic journey with hundreds of bodies on board each vessel, they were transformed from being people

The Portuguese language itself evolved from what was once Latin tangled together with other dialects spoken during the Roman Empire. That simple word uva shares the same meaning in Latin and Portuguese.

When I discovered uva , I was in kindergarten. I was staring at drawings of fruits on the classroom wall, which were glued side by side, just high enough for us to see at our low eye level before nap time. I remember vividly this great discovery by a five-year-old me. Each drawing had a picture next to a vowel to indicate everything has a name and suggested to us how to spell it out correctly. A was for abacate (avocado), and e for escola (school). U was for uva

I felt a sense of power. I felt bold. I was confident for once.

The first word I learned to read was uva. In Brazilian Portuguese, that’s the word for grape. The Portuguese language made its way across the Atlantic Ocean to Brazil with the Portuguese colonizers, centuries before my five-year-old self learned what the word meant. Before 1500, Brazil was called Pindorama by the Indigenous peoples who originally inhabited what is known as present-day Brazil. When the colonizers docked their ships on Pindorama’s shores, many Indigenous peoples didn’t survive the exchange. Some died of disease. The settlers killed others, all without speaking each other’s language.

to property. The language they were forced to speak and pass on to their children and grandchildren became Brazilian Portuguese, a mixture of the colonizer language with African and Indigenous influences.

I could read. This was something huge. I was raised by an illiterate single mother of six kids, living in abject poverty. I remember early in life, she would tell us the only way to escape poverty and criminality was through education.

When I stepped on the plane in Brazil, I was a lawyer. When I landed in the UK, I was a cleaner, like my mother. I couldn’t read, write, speak or understand even the simplest of small talk at the train station.

Time and time again, she’d say: “You need to go to school to be ‘somebody’ one day. You don’t want to have a life cleaning someone else’s toilet as I’ve done for years!”

In the last few years of her life, as an act of dignity, my mother tried to learn how to write her name. She wanted to have a signature on her ID. She wanted to sign a cheque or open a savings account to set aside some money to retire eventually and move back to rural Minas Gerais, where she was from.

I was far from being the best student in my class. I was merely average. But that didn’t discourage me from dreaming of going further with my studies. With some financial support, a bit of luck, and reading at night, the Portuguese language led me to law school. It was around that time in university that I immersed myself in the magical world of words. Through

poems, novels, nonfiction and classics, anything that could be imagined came to life on the page.

Several years after graduating from university, I wanted to discover a new world of words and learn English, so I moved to London. When I stepped on the plane in Brazil, I was a lawyer. When I landed in the UK, I was a cleaner, like my mother. I couldn’t read, write, speak or understand even the simplest of small talk at the train station. I was afraid of getting lost in a place I didn’t know and that felt strange. I couldn’t function. Not knowing how to get around was disorienting. I depended on a Good Samaritan to tell me which bus or train to catch. I remember how I wanted to know what was written in a newspaper about the local soccer league. I wanted to know what was being said on the radio. I wanted to be included. After several

months of studying and working every day, English gave me more opportunities. I managed to leave my early morning cleaning job for a bartending position at night.

Now, in Canada, I am a first-time father. At just a few months old, our baby boy is already babbling, and he has the opportunity to learn both English and Portuguese. Like a sponge, he can absorb any word from any language, and learn those histories. Through my experience, I realize words are what we need to create opportunity for all and future generations.

Sandro Silva is an Edmonton-based filmmaker, the co-founder of Dona Ana Films & Multimedia, an emerging writer, and a 2021 Own Voices Alberta alumni. He is working on his first memoir. Before his career in media production, Silva was a copyright lawyer in São Paulo, his hometown.

SUPPORT OUR WORK! Make a donation at writersguild ca The Writers’ Guild of Alberta (WGA) increasingly relies on the generosity of individual members and sponsors to accomplish our mission. Donating to the WGA directly supports the development of Alberta writers from all backgrounds through the variety of programs and resources we offer. 23 OCTOBER – DECEMBER 2022


Creating a vision for a sustainable future

that through her work with the Climate Reality Project, she’s come to understand that being a good listener and using personal stories to talk about climate change help her connect with her audience.

Not long ago, this was the strategy of many climate change activists and educators, but over the last decade we’ve learned a thing or two about what motivates understanding and change, and it isn’t data points on a graph.

Melanie Hoffman, Climate Reality leader and PhD chemist, says, “It was heartbreaking to learn that data was not an effective means of communicating about climate change.” She explains

In this era of extreme weather events, we spend much time talking about climate change, but sustainability communicators write, and speak, about a long list of sustainability issues: gender equality, hunger and poverty reduction, the limits of planetary boundaries, biodiversity loss, single-use plastic waste, responsible consumption, natural resource use, and how to create a just transition, to name a few. Connecting the dots between

Even the term “sustainability” is controversial. In 1987, the UN’s

f we just give people the facts, they’ll realize that climate change is serious, and they’ll make lifestyle changes that reduce their carbon footprint, right?”
In this era of extreme weather events, we spend much time talking about climate change, but sustainability communicators write, and speak, about a long list of sustainability issues: gender equality, hunger and poverty reduction, the limits of planetary boundaries, biodiversity loss, single-use plastic waste, responsible consumption, natural resource use, and how to create a just transition, to name a few.
FEATURE such diverse issues can be challenging for communicators, especially since sustainability issues are entwined with our identities and worldviews and values. Jasmin Godemann, professor of Communication and Engagement in Agricultural, Nutritional and Environmental Sciences at the University of Giessen, Germany, writes widely on sustainability communication: “People relate to sustainability from their personal situation and their own knowledge, expectations, beliefs and values,” so every sustainability message must be tailored to its specific situation.

Brundtland Commission sought to define “sustainable development.” It managed an enduring “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Since then, “sustainability” has become a convenient buzzword, used to sell everything from cars to bottled water. The malleability of the Brundtland definition has led some researchers to call for a reconceptualizing of the term to emphasize that “sustainable development” cannot be achieved unless we recognize “economy and society [are] sustained within Earth’s life-support system.”

Communicating the social, economic and environmental causes of such events is demanding, but communicating solutions can be formidable.

Imagine communicating the need for increased taxation to fund climate mitigation and adaptation. In Alberta, the NDP government failed to communicate its Climate Leadership Plan in a way that most Albertans could buy into, allowing the UCP to campaign against the “unfair carbon tax.” Many Albertans felt duped when they were forced to pay a federal carbon tax, anyway. Amidst polarized

itself. If I want to show the benefits of a new LRT line to city residents, I might write that it will offer them a low-cost transportation option. But what if those residents own cars and don’t want to ride the LRT? I might mention the reduction in infrastructure costs (taxes) over time from reduced wear and tear on roadways. I might make the case that it’s the right thing to do to mitigate climate change and support low-income residents who can’t afford their own cars, or I could argue that having a robust public transit system will reduce traffic congestion. All good arguments, but which one is most likely to resonate with my audience? Perhaps you can see how difficult communicating sustainability issues and initiatives can be.

All this semantic to-ing and fro-ing might seem like academic dithering, but it speaks to the enormous hurdles in communicating sustainability issues.

Sustainability problems are complex and often progress at such a slow pace that they remain invisible until they become expensive and difficult to manage. Take British Columbia’s wildfires, for example. BC has always had heatwaves and wildfires, but decades of forestry mismanagement and rising temperatures have created a situation where residents of some areas are repeatedly finding themselves on evacuation notice. In 2021, the town of Lytton experienced the highest temperature recorded in Canadian history, then burned to the ground the next day. Many areas that burned during that summer experienced extreme flooding a few months later, in part because burned soil is water resistant. As a result, some residents found their homes and livelihoods threatened for the second time in a single year.

political messaging, people struggle to make sense of the issues and lose sight of the science and its implications.

I often pose hypothetical scenarios to my sustainability communications class at MacEwan University: What approach would you use to motivate homeowners to install solar panels? To convince city council to increase the number of urban chicken permits? To engage a parents’ group on a community gardening initiative? These questions get students thinking how they can frame issues for specific audiences. What do homeowners have in common? A wish to increase property values, maybe. What about city councillors? To please residents and improve food security. New parents? To create educational opportunities for their children. These hypotheticals place students in the role of communicators empathizing with their audience.

One of the most successful ways to frame sustainability solutions is in terms of how they’re good for the audience

Derek Leahy, director of Rural Routes to Climate Solutions, said that as a journalist, he tired of writing about sustainability problems. Now he works with Alberta farmers and ranchers to empower them to reap the benefits of climate solutions. “Co-benefits resonate,” he explains. Instead of talking about how “we need to get greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere,” he talks to farmers about how “using solar power is good for their farms because they gain energy independence.” He focuses on things “anyone can agree to.”

Fortunately, as people become more aware of the necessity for sustainable choices, the easier it is to communicate sustainability issues and solutions. There’s that well-worn joke: What if we went to all the trouble of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, then found out that climate change was a hoax and we’d created a better world for nothing? Sustainability is vital for the future of humans and the planet we call home. It’s the role of sustainability communicators to create a vision for a sustainable future.

Roberta Laurie teaches creative nonfiction and sustainability communication at MacEwan University by day and freelance writes and edits by night. She is the author of Weaving a Malawi Sunrise and is currently working on a memoir inspired by a box of letters left behind by her father.

Sustainability is vital for the future of humans and the planet we call home. It’s the role of sustainability communicators to create a vision for a sustainable future.


WestWord invited members to tell us about their pandemic-related (or unrelated) writing projects. Featured here are members’ submissions.

Anna Shannon

Despite warnings that we’d be sick of reading about the “panny,” I couldn’t help writing

• a flash on a quarantined person experiencing the perils of nature (“Take Back the Streets”),

• an essay on how some of us wear figurative masks every day (“Mask Not Optional”),

• a short story of a woman experiencing too much distance (“Distancing”),

• an essay on possibly having a COVID-19 rash and the joys of mysterious illness (“Contagion”), and

• a flash detailing a writer’s descent into cognitive and vocabulative decline and their reclamation by the only option: zombie-esque activism (“Panny Zombie”).

Anna Shannon is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in fiction and creative nonfiction. A list of her published prose and articles is on her website, annawordsgood.com.

Jerry Bentz

The novel poses the question—what if an even more deadly mutated version of the COVID-19 virus emerged one year after the start of the worldwide pandemic and within weeks of the global roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines? The race to control the new mutated version of the virus, COVID-21, and develop a new modified vaccine begins with Operation Coyote

Jerry Bentz, an Edmonton-based professional biologist, and environmental consultant, semi-retired, and working from home at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, wrote a fiction novel. The result over the ensuing year was the thriller, Operation Coyote, published in 2021. For more information, visit jerrybentzbooks.com.

Vivian Hansen

In the spring of 2020, during the pandemic, I ran a writing workshop entitled “Nine Birds.” The workshop was my reactive response to the COVID scenario, in which we were in complete lockdown. I invited some poets I knew to contemplate a move beyond our mandated boundaries and write about the birds they saw on their daily walks. The participants were eager. This intensity seemed to find itself particularly prepared for poetry and the objective range of birds. So, we meditated on what the birds were up to, and created some poetic and spiritual freedom from that location.

Vivian Hansen is a writer and a poet. She teaches for the Faculty of Continuing Education’s certificate program in creative writing, University of Calgary. More information on Hansen is available at vhansen.ca.


J. Paul Cooper

My current project is a feature-length screenplay that blends politics and religion. I tried writing it as a novel, and it just didn’t flow. As many writers have discovered, once you start, your instincts will guide you to the best format. The most important decision is to write.

J. Paul Cooper has published short fiction and essays in magazines, print anthologies, online literary journals, and newspapers. His self-published ebook, What If: A Collection of Short Fiction, is available through Canadian and American public libraries, and online retailers. For more information, visit jpaulcooper.ca.

Charlotte Cameron

With COVID, I didn’t have the heart to finish my YA novel, Love and Courage in Troubled Times . Real life was a disappointment. Readers wouldn’t accept my happy ending. My protagonist did not go on a trip with friends. She did not visit Anne Frank’s house. She did not hug her new boyfriend before flying to Vancouver. With my publisher waiting, I quickly wrote a new ending and hit “send,” grateful to have a more appropriate ending for troubled times.

Charlotte Cameron’s YA novel and two plays were published by Fictive Press. Her novel, Love and Courage in Troubled Times, was launched in August 2022. A retired Edmonton teacher, she is president of the Poetry Gabriola Society. Visit Cameron at charlottes-eweb.blogspot.com.

Katherine Koller

I answered a call from the 2021–22 University of Alberta Writer in Residence, Ifeoma Chinwuba, for pieces that document the pandemic. My essay, “My Plague Diary,” appears in The Pandemic and Me, published by the Department of English and Film Studies. Chinwuba writes in her preface, “This chapbook seeks to capture this zeitgeist for posterity, to chronicle our generation’s experience.” My essay is about reading and writing my way through the waves of fear and the unknown. The book is available for free download from ualberta.ca/english-film-studies/ media-library/writer-in-residence/thepandemic-and-me.pdf.

Katherine Koller is a playwright, librettist, screenwriter, novelist; author of Art Lessons, Winning Chance and Voices of the Land.

Mar’ce Merrell

Here is my short write-up about my pandemic-related writing project:

I pinpoint the pandemic journalism from Italy as the start.

My writing shrinks to a circle in the center of an 8 x 10. Lines extend out from the central question: How do I respond?

I open my heart to emotion. I cry. I feel pain. Next day, same thing.

Mar’ce Merrell writes from the Bow, Elbow and Ghost rivers. Her in-progress novel, The Arbornauts, is a story of wild beings.

Belle Auld and Deb O’Rourke

From the start of our first-ever “plague,” Deb O’Rourke and I have been journaling about the pandemic. From our journals, we’ve created 31 Bibs, a piece of creative nonfiction. 31 Bibs is a braided essay that interconnects the climate crisis with COVID-19, weaving narrative with poetry and graphics of items handmade during the pandemic. The title comes from one of my first sewing projects — bibs (and, of course face masks).

Belle Auld has studied journalism and creative writing. She has worked in adult literacy in Calgary and is the author of several handbooks on literacy. A pandemic poem, “Day 143,” was chosen last year for Loft 112’s People’s Poetry Festival—Poet/ Artist Pairing. Her writing appears in anthologies, and she has written for the Calgary Herald, Western Living and Calgary Magazine.

Deb O’Rourke is a visual artist, writer and democratic educator, whose publications include NOW , Rabble , the Dominion , and The New Quarterly. Her artwork can be viewed at milkweedpatch.com.



Guidelines for Writers


• Send your article by email to editor@writersguild.ab.ca with the subject: “WestWord Article.”

• Please use Times New Roman, 12-point font, and double-space and paginate your document.

• Name your file as “[Surname]—[Title]” (for example: “Smith—Untitled”).

• Attach your submission as .doc or .docx files.

• We suggest your article be between 500 and 1,500 words in length.


In addition to commissioned articles, WestWord welcomes unsolicited submissions.

• Your proposal should express concisely and coherently the article’s essential elements; how you intend to approach the article; the section of the magazine best suited to the idea; and a summary of your credentials (no CVs please).

• Email enquiries to editor@writersguild.ab.ca with the subject: “WestWord Article Proposal.”

• The body of your email should contain your name, contact information, brief biography and outline of your proposal.

• WestWord has a small staff. The response time to all proposals will vary.


• We buy first Canadian serial print rights and limited, non-exclusive digital rights; copyright reverts to the author after publication.

• Publication occurs within a year of acceptance.

• WestWord believes writers should be compensated fairly for their work and pays industry rates for articles.


Letters to the editor are welcomed to encourage an exchange of ideas and opinions among members.

• Email enquiries to editor@writersguild.ab.ca with the subject: “WestWord Letter to the Editor.”

• The body of your email should contain your name and contact information.


Writers’ Guild of Alberta members in good standing may submit announcements about book publications, awards won, or other news about their writing life to the Member News section of WestWord. Submit news via email to mail@writersguild.ca.

Questions? Email editor@writersguild.ab.ca

Welcome to Our NEW WGA MEMBERS

Amna Adnan, Calgary

Javier Araujo, Calgary

Victoria Bastide, Edmonton

Sean Bell, Edmonton

Jaina Bigas, Calgary

Glen Binnington, Edmonton

Brennan Brown, Calgary

Duncan Campbell, Edmonton

Jacqueline Carmichael, St. Albert

Elyse Colville, Edmonton

Daniel Doyle, Ardrossan Waldemar Dressler, Cochrane

Sharon Endicott, Edmonton

Amanda Erickson, Edmonton

Tarrence Evans, Calgary

Michael Farris, Edmonton

Rachel Foley, Edmonton Karen Frey, Calgary

Jeb Gaudet, Calgary

Jillian Gordash, Edmonton

Campton Hancock, Calgary

Reyne Harrington, Edmonton

Christy Hemmingway, Calgary

Dawn Holland, Edmonton

Marisha Houck, Edmonton

Iain Ilich, Edmonton

Anvesh Jain, Calgary

Anna Janzen, Edmonton

Karlee Kapler, Grande Prairie Ramis Khatami, Calgary

Marnie Klein, Parkland County

Derek Lantz, Edmonton

Bella Maciocha, Spruce Grove

Kayde McCoy, Edmonton

Patti McIntosh, Edmonton

Margaret McKeon, Canmore

Premee Mohamed, Edmonton

Bridget Neigum, Medicine Hat

Nneka Okeke, Calgary

Uchechukwu Osineme, Edmonton

Adeline Panamaroff, Edmonton

Wendy Powell, Stony Plain

Emily Richardson, Calgary

Zac Routhier, Edmonton

Marian Sinclair, Edmonton

Hitomi Suzuta, Edmonton

Karen Sylte, Sherwood Park

Candice Tousignant-Corliss, Edmonton

Leah Van Dyk, Calgary

Max Vandersteen, Edmonton

Sharon Veeneman, Edmonton

Shafir Walji, Sherwood Park

Maureen (Reena) Weber, Calgary

Casey Williams, Calgary

Amir Yazdanbod, Edmonton

Tony Yep, Calgary


Writers’ Guild of Alberta members are encouraged to submit news about their recent publications. Please keep your submission brief—up to 150 words. Content may be edited to conform to WestWord style.

Crossing Borders and Cultural Divides, written and narrated by Michèle AllaireRowan, is set in Europe in the 1950s–1970s when it was easier to cross European borders and settle in another country. It is based on Allaire-Rowan’s life growing up in a French village, then working in England, and discovering Germany. Many details and characters allow the reader to understand the difficulties of learning a language and appreciating a different culture enough “to feel at home” in another country. Tradition, wine and oysters? Rock ’n’ roll, tea and fish and chips? Or Politics, beer and sausages? That is a testing choice and conundrum for Mimi. Can she settle for a traditional teacher’s fate, absorbed by her native culture? Can she follow her heart for the English language and embrace an outlandish culture in Britain? Or can she follow her adventurous streak and check out the intense culture prevalent in Germany? Crossing Borders is available on Amazon in ebook and on Audible in audio format.

Escape from the Wildfire, published by James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers, releases fall 2022. Escape from the Wildfire offers a fictional account based on the reallife facts of the disastrous wildfire of 2021 that destroyed the town of Lytton after days of scorching heat. Dorothy Bentley’s experience living through a wildfire led her to research those of Lytton residents so she could write the story of a resilient teen surviving an environmental catastrophe. Find out more at dorothybentley.ca.

Tabitha Biel Luak announces the release of What a Godly Privilege to be Born a Man, a


fictional yet true story of a young woman named Nyayang Jock, who is subjected to insufferable pain in the name of marriage because she is a woman. As she refuses to get pregnant, which is her fault according to the culture, her husband, Chuol Malual, a rich businessman, makes it clear he cannot be let down when there are plenty of women who can promise him children. Chuol replaces Nyayang mentally with Sarah to give him not just children, but males. Nyayang faces not only her in-laws’ rejection, depreciating her for failing their son, but the community, too. This book speaks of the struggles many South Sudanese women undergo as tribes and individuals in power belittle their creations and the importance of their beings. It speaks about normalized rape and forced marriages.

Miora Darrell announces the release of her debut novel, Selena and Her Mysteries Selena Jenkins, a young woman, lives in a huge house—full of mysteries. As doors are opened, mistakes are inevitable. Extraordinary travel takes place, ensuring Selena must mature or be lost in a situation where she cannot stay. Duplicity is in the wings; friendships grow stronger; love is whispered, shadows drift by, and memories are blurred. Selena’s life is complicated as people and events cause her to overcome heart-breaking deceit and make difficult life decisions. Family mysteries swirl around her, overpowering her thoughts as she searches for answers in unexpected places. What she finds will change her life and bring hope for love and understanding of the mysteries that shape her past and present. Selena and Her Mysteries is available in ebook through Kindle, Kobo and Apple, on Amazon, and at The Vault Gift Shop, in Strathmore ($14).

In this book, Kit Dobson thinks seriously about how little we, as humans, interact with the natural world and how that has changed

our place within it. Field Notes on Listening is a response to our lack of connection to the land we call home, the difficult history of how many of us came to be here and what we could discover if we listened deeply to the world. Written in brief, elegant sections, Field Notes on Listening starts at Dobson’s kitchen table, a family heirloom, and wends through time and space, looking at his family’s lost farms, the slow violence of climate change, loss of habitat, the tensions of living in late-stage capitalism and through careful listening strives to find a way through it all, returning home and to the same table. For more information about the author, visit kitdobson.ca.

Leslie Greentree’s forthcoming collection of short stories, Not the Apocalypse I Was Hoping For, is a dark, often funny, compelling collection that asks how we locate, create, and avoid meaning in our lives. These are stories about people and relationships challenged by death and redeemed by art. Satirical, political, personal and tender, they take us to funerals, protests, art galleries, to the dark side of the service industry, and through cities on fire. Not the Apocalypse I Was Hoping For is published by University of Calgary Press (Brave & Brilliant series) and hit bookstore shelves in September 2022. Check lesliegreentree.ca and watch her social media for book launch announcements across the province and beyond: Twitter: @LeslieGreentree; Facebook: @LeslieGreentreeAuthor; Instagram: @lesliegreentree.

Kenneth Price is pleased to announce the release of his first novel, Midnight Drive. Kenny Prince enjoyed the finer things in life—cocaine, strippers and a 1976 Corvette Stingray. But Kenny wound up dead on his


couch with two bullet holes in him and a QR code slapped onto the wall above his body. So now it's up to Logan Claybourne to find who did it. Not that Logan gives a rat’s ass. He’s not a detective. He’s a repo man. And if he wants money to fund his unhinged gambling addiction, he’s going to have to find the Stingray before the police do. The mystery will take him around a world of pawn shops, casinos and hardscrabble people for a very Edmonton noir tale. Follow the author on Twitter and Instagram: @edmontonnoir.

Edmonton writer Duane Radford is pleased to announce the publication of his tenth book, Coal Town Kids (FriesenPress). Though several people have contributed to the book, it is largely told by Radford as he follows his family’s arrival to Bellevue after the Second World War, and his experiences there until his family moved to Calgary in 1963. Radford and his childhood friends reminisce about growing up in Crowsnest Pass. In the 1950s, the Pass was a hard place for people to make a living and most faced adversity, relying on their resourcefulness to survive. The community, mostly made up of immigrants from many countries, some of whom were escaping war-torn homelands. Despite the hardships of working in the mines, the Pass offered an idyllic lifestyle built around a strong sense of community. Coal Town Kids is the first substantive nonfiction account dealing with the Pass since 1952.

Glimmer is an off-beat and unconventional collection about the human experience—in 12 long short stories alternating with 13 experimental one-sentence novels. These imaginative stories are diverse in tone and narrative technique, and deal with intimate or strange relationships, often with a soundtrack humming through. Author Mark Anthony Jarman says: “Glimmer is a smash and grab of a book, cinematic and musical,

domestic and surreal. Steven Ross Smith’s antic prose digs into fertile and chaotic layers, opening vivid narratives that are meta and anti-meta and brimming with life.”

Writer on Fire: Poetry Prompts to Ignite the Poet Within by Nikki Tate and Carol Thornton will help get your poems out of your dreams and onto the page. Playful and interactive, the book provides 30 instructive and inspirational poetry prompts with variations to suit writers of all temperaments. You’ll find familiar forms (haikus and sonnets) as well as more obscure options (rispettos and monostichs). Some prompts are thematic, while others have fun with technology (what happens when you run a line of poetry back and forth through an online translation program?) Example poems are included, many by members of Writers on Fire online writing community. Let the prompts in this book be your starting place. From there, you can go anywhere! In full colour, Writer on Fire is a lovely book to add to your bookshelf or gift to a writing friend. Available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

Bradley Somer’s latest novel, EXTINCTION, was published this summer throughout the Commonwealth (HarperCollins UK), and will be released in North America on November 22 (Blackstone Publishing). In a lonely mountain valley, a ranger watches over the last surviving grizzly. One night, he hears poachers coming to hunt his bear. Find out more at bradleysomer.com.

Meghan J. Ward’s Lights to Guide Me Home: An Adventure Off the Beaten Track in Life, Love, Adventure, and Parenting (Rocky Mountain Books) was released in September 2022. In this debut memoir,

Ward takes us on a trip around the world while chronicling her transitions through some of life’s major milestones. From Costa Rica to Nepal, Rapa Nui to Malta, Ward explores what it means to carve out her own identity amidst family expectations, her responsibilities as a parent to young children, and her marriage to an ambitious travel and landscape photographer. Whom will she discover beneath these entanglements?

See meghanjoyward.com/lightsbook for more info.

Tell us about your recent publications. Send your notice to Ellen Kartz at the Writers’ Guild of Alberta–ellen.kartz@writersguild.ab.ca


Thank you to all our generous DONORS & SPONSORS


(UP TO $99)

Diane Armstrong

Patricia Atchison

Sheila Birmingham

Ted Bishop

Astrid Blodgett

Ali Bryan

Eric Bryer

Eleanor Byers

Pamela Clark

Jennifer Cross

Jean Crozier

Dolly Dennis

Beth Everest

Krystyna Fedosejevs

Jill Foreman

Susan Glasier

Nora Gould

Jacqueline Guest

Amber Hayward

Faye Holt

Hazel Hutchins

Nancy Jackle Jennifer Keane-Mackinnon

Fran Kimmel

Allison Kydd

Janice Lore

Alice Major

William Masuak

Micheline Maylor

Janice McCrum

Elizabeth Millham

Joanne Morcom

Okechukwu Nnamchi

Frank O'Keeffe

Mohamed Osman

Carol Parchewsky

David Peyto

Wendy Powell

Diane Robitelle

Cheryl Schenk

Audrey Seehagen

Mireille Smith

Karen Spafford-Fitz

John Stephens

Darcy Tamayose

Jane Trotter

Monica Walker Marlyn Wall Audrey Whitson Chris Wiseman

Johanna Wishart

Johanne Yakula


($100 - $499)

Access Copyright AWCS Youth

Mona Bacon

In memory of Gonda Bosscher Bres on behalf of the University of Manitoba, Partnerships & Innovation Office

Ann Campbell Canadian Literature Centre

Jim Conley

Lisa Cook

Charlotte Corothers

Ruth DyckFehderau

Asma Faizi

Karen Farkas

Marilyn Fleger

Joan Marie Galat

Raymond Gariepy

Leslie Greentree

Trudy Grienauer

Brenda Gunn

Lori Hahnel

Brian Hitchon

Carol Holmes Bruce Hunter Marlene Kadar

Jo-Ann Kolmes

Olga Krochak Sulkin

Dennis Lee Marilyn Letts Anne Logan Dan Martin Kerry McKinnon

Peter Midgley Kerry Mitchell Elaine Morin

Taryn Pawluk

Rachelle Pinnow

Prairie Journal

Priority Printing

Darlene Quaife Holly Quan

Lori D. Roadhouse Sandy Romanow Julie Sedivy

Kathy Seifert

Shirley Serviss

Patsy Wiebe

Young Alberta Book Society

Marjorie Zelent

ASSOCIATE PATRON ($500 - $999)

Alberta Magazine Publishers Association Calgary Public Library Ann Goldblatt Betty Jane Hegerat Barb Howard Shaun Hunter Margaret Macpherson Blaine Newton Owl’s Nest Books

Merna Summers L. Deborah Sword

Aritha van Herk

PATRON ($1,000 & UP)

Alberta Views Magazine Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society

Rona Altrows

Amber Webb-Bowerman Foundation

Arts Council Wood Buffalo ArtsVest

Stephan V. Benediktson

Edmonton Community Foundation

Estate of Mary Thompson

The John Patrick Gillese Fund at Edmonton Community Foundation

Vivian Hansen

The Haynes Family –In Memory of Dr. Sterling Haynes

Greg Hickmore

Richard and Beatrice Kerr Jeananne Kathol Kirwin LLP

Mary Anne King Deborah and Steve Leighton Joan McMillan

Lisa Murphy

Pandemic School of Writing Inc.

RBC Emerging Artists

Rosza Foundation

Marilyn and Bob Stallworthy

Nhung Tran-Davies

Under the Arch Youth Foundation

WGA Board of Directors

Are you our next writer-in-residence? Applications now open for 2024-2025 Apply by Jan. 11, 2023 ucalgary.ca/cdwp
2 0 2 3 A L B E R T A L I T E R A R Y A W A R D S O P E N I N G F O R S U B M I S S I O N S O C T O B E R 1 1 , 2 0 2 2 W R I T E R S G U I L D . C A W R I T E R S ' G U I L D O F A L B E R T A

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.