Creative Writing Mentorship: October 2017 – January 2018

A unique opportunity for talented teen writers to develop their potential, hone their skills, and gain confidence in creative expression

The Protégé Project is designed for young writers – high-school students in grades 9 to 12 – who demonstrate an enthusiasm and talent for writing in any form: poetry, short fiction, personal memoir, essay, playwriting or journalism. At least one and possibly two students will be awarded mentorships in 2017-18, plus a $250 cash prize and a gift certificate to Novel Idea Books.

The Project matches the student with a professional local writer for a four-month, one-on-one mentoring experience, during which the student will be coached in writing style and technique, introduced to inspiring and instructive works by established writers, taught how to revise and hone their personal forms of expression, and guided in the completion of several pieces of original writing. The student and mentor will meet up to twice monthly at the facilities of our Project partner, Pathways to Education, on Weller Avenue, and the student must commit to additional time outside of these sessions for reading, research, and developing his or her works-in-progress. A finished piece and its student-author will be showcased at a Kingston WritersFest event and published on the KWF website.

To apply, students and their teachers or counsellors must complete separate online application forms. Students’ online form.

The student must also submit a writing sample of no more than 500 words: a short story, poem, personal essay (memoir), or work of literary nonfiction. It can be an original work already completed by the student or a new work.

A teacher or counsellor familiar with the student’s potential must complete an online reference form addressing the student’s eligibility for the mentorship.

Particular consideration will be given to students who confront challenges in their personal or community lives, circumstances that might limit their creative opportunities.

The deadline for applications and writing samples is October 2, 2017. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of author-mentors and educators, and all applicants will be notified of the results.

For further information
at Kingston WritersFest: Jan Walter:
or Ann-Maureen Owens:
at Pathways to Education: Lauren Hartwick:

Report on the 2016 Protégé Project

Lawrence Scanlan, Thalia Danielson, Megan Erb, and Susan Olding

Mentors Lawrence Scanlan and Susan Olding flank 2016 protégés Thalia Danielson and Megan Erb

The pilot year of the Merilyn Simonds Protégé Project concluded with enthusiastic reviews from protégés and mentors alike – and with new works of poetry and prose by the first young writers to be awarded mentorships under this Kingston WritersFest initiative.

Thalia Danielson, a 2015-16 Grade 12 student at École secondaire catholique Marie-Rivier, and Megan Erb, a Grade 10 student at Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School, were selected for the four-month, one-on-one creative writing mentorship with local professional authors, Susan Olding and Lawrence Scanlan. Between February 1 and June 30th, they received coaching in writing technique and style, experimented with different genres, and studied the examples of contemporary masters. Both have gained a heightened awareness of the world around them and greater confidence in their ability to express what they discover through writing. The relationships established with their mentors will continue to connect them to the larger literary and publishing communities.

Thalia and Meg participated in public reading events and radio interviews, and they appeared onstage, via video recording, at Kingston WritersFest 2016. In 2017, Thalia made her professional appearance in print with a feature in the March/April issue of kingstonlife. Meg won First Prize, Senior Division, in the 2017 Regiopolis-Notre Dame Poetry Contest. Congratulations to both!

You can read a sample of their works here:

“Writing gives young people a voice, the confidence that their story is important, their view of the world valid and vital. We’ve seen again and again how story has brought joy and purpose to those struggling in the margins of adulthood.”
Merilyn Simonds


“Pathways exists to assist students with their day-to-day needs; with the Protégé Project, we are supporting their dreams.”
Lauren Hartwick, Pathways to Education Coordinator

“Exciting and enriching… a window was opened to me to the wider literary world.”
Protégé Thalia Danielson

“I have been introduced to other writers who share the same passions as me, and the Project has helped me figure out what my passions are.”
Protégé Meg Erb

“Working with my protégé was very meaningful …To see her eyes light up at the opportunities we were presenting was a genuine gift. I loved being the agent of such encouragement.”
Mentor Susan Olding

Megan Erb

Megan Erb: Rule

Thalia Danielson

Thalia Danielson: I Am a Map

Fostering a love of writing and reading among young people is one of Kingston WritersFest’s core objectives. This initiative complements a roster of Festival youth programs designed to nurture creative expression, enhance communications skills, and open the imagination to new worlds. The mentoring of young writers was a particular passion of the Festival’s founding artistic director, Merilyn Simonds, for whom this initiative is named.

Thank you to the mentors and to all who have supported, and continue to support, the Protégé Project!

Pathways to Education
Community Foundation for Kingston & Area
Kawartha Credit Union
Novel Idea Bookstore
James Brown and Joan Lee
2 Anonymous Donors

You can contribute to this unique initiative by donating to Kingston WritersFest, Merilyn Simonds Protégé Project: