Former Writers-in-Residence

Current Writer-in-Residence >

2016 | Margaret Christakos
Margaret Christakos is a widely published, award-winning poet, fiction author, critic and creative writing instructor. She has published nine collections of acclaimed poetry and one novel, and has given readings and seminars from her work across Canada and the US since 1989. Her work has won the ReLit Award for Poetry and the Bliss Carman Award, and been nominated for the Pat Lowther Award twice and the Ontario Trillium Book Award. In 2012-13 she was the recipient of a major Chalmers Arts Fellowship. Her most recent poetry collection is called Multitudes, published by Coach House Books in 2013. A new collection of creative memoir, Her Paraphernalia: On Motherlines, Sex/Blood/Loss & Selfies, was published by Book Thug in Spring 2016.


2015 | Tanis Rideout
An imaginative and versatile writer, Tanis Rideout is a poet and novelist whose work has been shortlisted for several prizes, including the Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award for Emerging Writers and the CBC Literary Awards. In 2006, she was named Poet Laureate for Lake Ontario and joined Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip on a tour to promote environmental justice on the lake. Born in Belgium, Tanis grew up in Bermuda and in Kingston, Ontario. She now lives in Toronto. Her first novel, Above All Things was a bestseller in Canada, a Globe and Mail Best Book and a New York Times Editor's Choice.


2014 | Gary Barwin
Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, multimedia artist, and educator and the author of seventeen books of poetry and fiction as well as books for both teens and children. His work has been widely performed, broadcast, anthologized and published nationally and internationally. His latest book is Moon Baboon Canoe (poetry, Mansfield Press, 2014) and he has just completed a novel, Yiddish for Pirates.

He received a PhD. in music composition, a B.A., B.F.A and a B.Ed. and taught middle school and high school for nearly ten years. He has taught writing at McMaster University and at Mohawk College, to street-involved youth, and at Offcentre Arts and Creativity Workshops. He was the Fall 2013 Young Voices eWriter-in-Residence at the Toronto Public Library.

Barwin is winner of the 2013 City of Hamilton Arts Award (Writing), the Hamilton Poetry Book of the Year 2011, and co-winner of 2011 Harbourfront Poetry NOW competition, the 2010 bpNichol chapbook award, and the KM Hunter Artist Award. He has received major grants from the Canada Council and the Ontario Arts Council for his work. His YA novel, Seeing Stars was shortlisted for both the Crimewriters of Canada Arthur Ellis Award as well as the Canadian Library Association YA Book of Year, and his picturebook, The Magic Mustache, was chosen as a "Best Bet" by Macleans.


2013 | M. NourbeSe Philip
M. NourbeSe Philip is a critically acclaimed and widely anthologized poet, novelist, playwright, essayist and short story writer. Philip's career has been marked by her formal experimentation and her strong commitment to social justice. In addition to her many literary honours, Philip is a former Guggenheim fellow and a recipient of the City of Toronto Arts Award for poetry in 1995. She garnered praise for her interactive live performances of her book of poetry, Zong!, which focuses on an 18th century legal decision regarding the murder of Africans aboard a slave ship. (Bio by #Poetry/ab).


2012 | Ivan Coyote
Ivan Coyote is an award-winning novelist, short fiction writer, oral storyteller, performing artist, and editor. Winner of the ReLit Award for her first novel, Bow Grip (2006), Coyote has also been shortlisted for acclamations such as the Ferro-Grumley Award for Women's Fiction, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Vancouver Public Library's "One Book, One Vancouver" competition. She has repeatedly been honoured by the American Library Association - Bow Grip was named a Stonewall Honor Book, and her short story collection Missed Her (2010) was included as a Top Eleven book in the ALA's "Over the Rainbow Books" list - and her instruction in schools and libraries across Canada has consistently inspired excited crowds. A renowned live performer, Ivan also tours high schools across the country, continent, and even in Europe with her anti-bullying storytelling-driven show, One in Every Crowd. She expects to release a collection of short stories geared especially for gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer and trans youth, which is also called One In Every Crowd. Coyote has taught creative writing classes and workshops at a variety of institutions, including Capilano University, the Vancouver Public Library Carleton University, and The University of Winnipeg and she has led workshops prepared specifically for seniors and intergenerational family members wishing to write collaborative memoirs, and works to draw diverse communities together wherever she goes.


2011 | Sheila Heti
Sheila Heti is the author of seven books, including the 2012 novel, How Should a Person Be? which was a New York Times Notable Book and was called by Time magazine "one of the most talked-about books of the year." She is co-editor of the New York Times bestseller Women in Clothes, which features the voices of 639 women from around the world. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages.

She is the former Interviews Editor of The Believer magazine, and has conducted many long-form, print interviews with writers and artists. Her writing has been published in The New Yorker, McSweeney's, n+1Harper's, The New York Times and The London Review of Books. She has lectured at MoMA, The New Yorker Festival, Columbia University, Brown University, the Hammer Museum, the Cúirt Festival, the Sydney Writers Festival, and elsewhere. 

Her play, All Our Happy Days are Stupid, had a sold-out run at The Kitchen in New York, and Videofag in Toronto. She appeared as Lenore Doolan in Leanne Shapton's book Important Artifacts.


2010 | Andre Alexis
Born in Trinidad, and raised in Canada, Alexis has published two novels (Childhood, 1995; Asylum, 2008), a collection of short fiction (Despair and Other Stories, 1994), a children's novel (Ingrid and the Wolf, 2005), a play (Lambton, Kent, 1999) and a number of journalistic pieces for The Globe and Mail, The New York Times Book Review, the Village Voice, the Toronto Star, the National Post, This, Shift and The Walrus. He has served as Playwright in Residence at the Canadian Stage Co., and three of his plays and three of his libretti have been performed. His most recent play (Decalogue 2) was given a workshop performance at the Tarragon Theatre and he has a book of essays (Beauty and Sadness) coming out in the Fall.

Alexis' collection of short fiction was short-listed for the Commonwealth Prize, and Childhood won both the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Trillium Award (shared with Alice Munro) and was shortlisted for the Roger's Communication Prize. Ingrid and the Wolf was nominated for the Governor-General's Award for Children's Literature. Alexis' work has been widely anthologized and translated.

Alexis has produced and hosted radio shows for CBC Radio, including the popular Skylarkin'. He is an Editor at Large with This magazine. He also brings to the residency his experiences of teaching writing at The University of Guelph, The University of Toronto, and The Banff Centre for the Arts.


2009 | Penn Kemp
Penn Kemp is a writer with both international experience and a wide variety of connections within the local community. Celebrated by the League of Canadian Poets as "one of the foremothers of Canadian Poetry," she also has accomplishments as a playwright and essayist, as well as expertise in editing. She works across a variety of poetic practices: her work in new media forms has been documented in a 2006 dissertation by Janette Hughes, Poets, Poetry and the New Media. Since Coach House Press published her first book in 1972, Ms. Kemp has been pushing textual and aural boundaries, often in participatory performance work. Among her publications are more than twenty-five books of poetry and drama, ten CDs of Sound Opera, eight videopoems, and Canada's first poetry CD-ROM. She has artistically collaborated with a variety of writers, artists, dancers, and musicians. Ms. Kemp has considerable background as a writer­ in-residence, having served in this role in Buffalo, NY; Labrador; Findhorn, Scotland; Flesherton, Ontario; University of Rondonia, Brazil; and in India at the University of Mumbai, SNDT in Mumbai, and The University of Baroda. She has also performed in a variety of venues at arts festivals and conferences around the world, including London's Aeolian Hall.


2008 | Anita Badami
Anita Rau Badami has published short stories, fiction for children, journalistic writing and three highly acclaimed bestselling novels: Tamarind Mem (1996), The Hero's Walk (2000), and Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? (2006). Her fiction has been celebrated as haunting, evocative, moving, and often laugh-out-loud funny.


2007 | Drew Hayden Taylor
Hailing from Curve Lake First Nations, Drew Hayden Taylor is an award-winning playwright, journalist, columnist, author of short stories and novels, scriptwriter and a participant in countless documentaries on the aboriginal experience including Redskins, Tricksters and Puppy Stew, a documentary on what is arguably his favourite subject, native humour.


2006 | Joan Barfoot
A former newspaper journalist, Joan Barfoot has written 10 novels, from Abra, winner of the Books in Canada first novels award, to Luck, shortlisted for the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her novel Dancing in the Dark became an award-winning film, she was given the Marian Engel award in 1992, and her ninth novel, Critical Injuries, was longlisted for the 2002 Man Booker Prize.


2005 | Gerry Shikatani
Writer, editor and text-sound performance artist, Gerry is also a culinary critic and gastronomy writer for the print and broadcast media. He has also been a collaborating co-filmmaker with independent filmmakers. His poetry books are A Sparrow's Food (1983), Selected Poems and Texts 1973 (1988), Aqueduct: poems and texts from Europe 1979-87 (1996) and mortar rake glove sausan broom basin sansui: First Book, Three Gardens of Andaluda (2003). His other titles are Paper Doors: an anthology of Japanese-Canadian poetry (co-edited with David Aylward, 1981), Lake and other stories (1996) and A Passion· For Food: conversations with Canadian chefs (1999).


2004 | Lola Lemire Tostevin
A poet, novelist, critic, and translator, Lola Lemire Tostevin was born in Northern Ontario, in Timmins, of French-speaking parents, though she writes mainly in English. Her poetry collections include The Colour of her Speech (1982), Gyno Texts (1983), Double Standards (1985), 'Sophie (1988), Cartouches (1995), and Site-Specific Poems (2003). Her novels are Frog Moon (1992) and The Jasmine Man (2002). She has also published the collection of critical essays Subject to Criticism (1995). Her translation of Anne Hebert's Le Jour n'a d' egalque la nuit appeared in 1997 with House of Anansi Press.


2003 | George Bowering
A distinguished Canadian writer of poetry, prose and non-fiction and a mentor to young writers, with his fiction taught and read in universities across Canada and Western Europe. Bowering began his career as a photographer for the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1954 to 1957. After attending several universities, he received his Master of Arts from the University of British Columbia in 1963. His teaching career began shortly after and included terms at various colleges and universities in Canada, the United States, Rome, Berlin and Aarhus. Bowering's connection to Western began with his doctoral studies from 1966 to 1967. With more than forty published titles, Bowering is a two-time winner of the Governor General's Literary Award in the poetry category for his works, The Gangs of Kosmos and Rocky Mountain Foot in 1969, and for fiction in 1980 for his novel, Burning Water. He also received the Nichol Chapbook award for poetry in both 1991 and 1992 and the Canadian Authors' Association Award for Poetry in 1993.

He has taken an active part in the public life of Canada, writing Bowering's B.C. in 1996 and Egotists and Autocrats: Canada's Prime Ministers in 1999. He was appointed Canada's first Parliamentary Poet Laureate in November 2002, and in 2003 was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest honours for lifetime achievement.


2002 | David French
Highly acclaimed and prolific Canadian playwright. Born in Coley's Point, Newfoundland, David French became a leader of the new Canadian theatre of the 1970s with such plays as Leaving Home (1972), Of the Fields Lately (1973), One Crack Out (1975), and Jitters (1980), all produced by the avant-garde Tarragon Theatre in Toronto under the directorship of Bill Glassco. As these early plays quickly became classics of the Canadian theatre canon, French continued with such outstanding plays as Saltwater Moon (1985), winner of the 1984 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play, the 1986 Canadian Authors Association Award for Drama, and the 1987 Hollywood Drama-Logue Critics Award. His later plays have included 1949 (1989), the mystery-thriller The Silver Dagger (1993), and the memory play That Summer (1999).