2017 Mentorship term: February 13 – May 30, 2017

In partnership with Pathways to Education, Kingston WritersFest invites offers young writers a unique creative-writing opportunity

The Protégé Project is intended for high-school students in grades 9 to 12 who demonstrate an enthusiasm and talent for writing but who confront challenging circumstances in their personal or community lives that might limit their creative opportunities. The program is delivered out of the Pathways to Education facilities in Kingston’s North End, but is open to all students who meet the criteria.
The Project matches a student with a professional local writer for a fourteen-week, one-on-one mentoring experience, during which the student will be coached in writing style and technique, introduced to the works of established writers, and guided to complete several pieces of their own original writing. The student and mentor will meet bi-weekly, and the student must commit to additional time outside of these sessions for reading, research, and developing his or her works-in-progress. The finished work and its student-author will be showcased at a Kingston WritersFest event in late September 2017 and the piece published on the KWF website.

To apply, complete the online application form and submit a writing sample of no more than 500 words. The sample piece may be a short story (fiction), poetry, personal essay (memoir) or literary nonfiction, and may be either an original work already completed by the student or a new work. A teacher, counsellor, or supervisory case worker familiar with the student’s potential will also provide a short reference for the applicant.

The deadline for applications and writing samples is Monday, January 30, 2017. Incomplete applications cannot be considered. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of author-mentors and educators. At least one and possibly two students will be awarded mentorships in 2017 and the successful applicant(s) informed by February 6, 2017.

For information
at Kingston WritersFest: Jan Walter: jan.walter@editors.ca
at Pathways to Education: Lauren Hartwick: laurenh@kchc.ca

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. 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 made this first Protégé Project term such a resounding success!

Pathways to Education
Community Foundation for Kingston & Area
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: www.kingstonwritersfest.ca/Support