Jean Rae Baxter
Jean Rae Baxter is a former educator, author, and writing instructor. Jean was born in Toronto and grew up in Hamilton, but “down home” was the region of Essex and Kent Counties on the north shore of Lake Erie where her ancestors had settled, some following the American Revolution and some a century earlier, in the days of New France. There were many family stories to awaken her interest in Canada’s past, and frequently, in these stories, the lives of settlers were interwoven with those of First Nations people.
As a teacher, she helped to develop Language Arts Curriculum in liaison with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (O.I.S.E.). Following her career in education, she returned to Hamilton and became a fulltime author. As well as writing novels and short stories, she was a member of the committee that organizes Hamilton’s Lit Live Reading Series and also served as Co-chair of the Literary Advisory Committee, Hamilton Arts Council. In 2016 she returned to Kingston, where she both writes and teaches writing. Her workshops give participants practice in using the tools of fiction to write memoir and family history. Her most recent latest historical novel, The Knotted Rope” received the 2022 Moon Beam Awards Silver Medal. Because she had already won the Gold Medal for Broken Trail, and the Bronze for Freedom Bound, she now has the complete set—an especially gratifying achievement because the Moonbeam Awards are American, and she writes history from a decidedly Canadian point of view.
In 2022, Jean was nominated for the Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media: the Pierre Berton Award. Her new historical novel, Battle on the Ice, set during the 1837-1838 Patriot Revolt, will be published in May 2023.
Adrian Michael Kelly
Adrian Michael Kelly is an author and creative writing coach living in Kingston, Ontario. He is the author of Down Sterling Road, a novel, and the collection of short stories, The Ambassador of What. Author Charles Foran praised the collection of “remarkable stories: tender and fierce, acutely observed and achingly felt, guided by an intelligence that will neither judge nor look away. Prose can’t get more transparent by craft or insights more clarified by experience — to powerful, lasting effect.” Adrian’s essays and journalism have appeared in The Globe & Mail, the Calgary Herald, CNQ: Canadian Notes and Queries, and other periodicals. He holds a PhD in English (with a Creative Writing focus) and has taught writing and literature to students and professionals worldwide.
Catherine Hernandez is an award-winning author and screenwriter. Her first novel, Scarborough, won the Jim Wong-Chu Award for the unpublished manuscript; was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Awards, the Evergreen Forest of Reading Award, the Edmund White Award, and the Trillium Book Award; and a finalist for Canada Reads. Her second novel, Crosshairs, was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award and made numerous best book lists. Author Cherie Dimaline praised it, saying “Catherine Hernandez is ground-breaking. Her talent is remarkable. I dare you not to cry or scream or marvel or, like me, do all at once while reading this book. This story is a masterpiece of voice and metaphor, image and embodiment.” Catherine’s third novel, The Story of Us will be published in winter 2023. She has written critically acclaimed plays and three children’s books. Her screenplay for the film adaptation of Scarborough was the 1st runner up for the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, won the Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker Award, was nominated for 11 Canadian Screen Awards and won 8, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, amongst other awards. She is the creator of the audio sketch comedy series Imminent Disaster, and is currently working on a few television projects and her fourth novel.
Tanis MacDonald is a professor, essayist, writer of poetry, memoir, fiction, creative nonfiction, and host of the podcast Watershed Writers. She is creator of the ‘memoir via instruction’, Out of Line: Daring to be an Artist Outside the Big City, Straggle: Adventures in Walking While Female, and, with Ariel Gordon and Rosanna Deerchild, was co-editor of the multi-genre anthology GUSH: menstrual manifestos for our times. Her book The Daughter’s Way was a finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in Tessera, Prairie Fire, Studies in Canadian Literature, Hamilton Arts and Letters, The New Quarterly, and in Far and Wide: Essays from Across Canada, and the anthology Far Villages. She is the author of three books of poetry, including, most recently, Mobile, which was longlisted for the Toronto Book Awards.
She is the winner of the Bliss Carman Prize and the Mayor’s Poetry City Prize for Waterloo. She has taught at the Sage Hill Writing Experience, and won the Robert Kroetsch Teaching Award from the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs. Originally from Winnipeg, she teaches Canadian Literature and Creative Writing at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo.
Cole Pauls is a Tahltan comic artist, illustrator and printmaker hailing from Haines Junction (Yukon Territory) with a BFA in Illustration from Emily Carr University. Cole focuses on his two comic series, the first being Pizza Punks: a self-contained comic strip about punks eating pizza which he began as a series of self-published zines to sell at comics festivals and zine fairs, such as Vancouver and Toronto Comic Arts Festivals (VanCAF and TCAF) and the multi-city Canzine. The British Columbia Review praised the series, saying “the drawings and details in this comic series are stunning, from the thoughtful backgrounds to the outfits, environments, use of shading, and realism in its portrayal of urban Indigeneity.” Cole’s other series is Dakwäkãda Warriors. He won Broken Pencil Magazine’s Best Comic and Best Zine of the Year Award for Dakwäkãda Warriors II, and won Best Work in an Indigenous Language from the Indigenous Voices Awards and was nominated for the Doug Wright Award categories, The Egghead & The Nipper for Dakwäkãda Warriors.
“A collection of poetry by Paul Vermeersch is more than a book, it’s an adventure,” says Jeff Dupuis. “It’s a trip to the stars and down memory lane, a voyage into the depths of pulp culture and western civilization… it has heart, wit and the dimensionality to kick the reader’s imagination into overdrive… One of the most original and talented voices in Canada.!”
Paul Vermeersch is a poet, multimedia artist, creative writing professor, and literary editor. He is the author of several poetry collections, including The Reinvention of the Human Hand, a finalist for the Trillium Book Award, and most recently, Shared Universe: New and Selected Poems 1995-2020. Shared Universe appeared on best book lists from the CBC, the Writers Trust of Canada, the Winnipeg Free Press and the Globe and Mail. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph for which he received the Governor General’s Gold Medal. He teaches in the Honours Bachelor of Creative Writing & Publishing program at Sheridan College where he is the editor-in-chief of The Ampersand Review of Writing & Publishing. He is also the senior editor of Wolsak and Wynn Publishers where he created the poetry and fiction imprint Buckrider Books. He lives in Toronto.
Dimitri Nasrallah is the author of four novels, Blackbodying, which won Quebec’s McAuslan First Book Prize and was a finalist for the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal, Niko, winner of the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and nominee for CBC’s Canada Reads and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, The Bleeds, and, most recently Hotline, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. A Montreal Gazette review says Hotline “takes his work to a new level of sophistication and constitutes a significant addition to the literary chronicling of the Canadian immigrant experience.” Dimitri was born in Lebanon in 1977 during the civil war, and lived in Kuwait, Greece, and Dubai before moving to Canada. In addition to his own writing, he is a member of the faculty of English at Concordia University, translates books from French to Englisth and has been the fiction editor at Véhicule Press since 2014.
Hailed by The Globe and Mail as “Canada’s next great novelist,” Dennis Bock is the author of the book of stories, Olympia, winner of the Canadian Author’s Association Jubilee Award, the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Betty Trask Award, and the novels The Communist’s Daughter, The Ash Garden, a #1 bestseller, winner of the Canada-Japan Literary Award and a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Kiriyama Prize and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, Going Home Again, finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and, most recently, The Good German, which Margaret Atwood called “a cunning, twisted, compelling tale of deeply unexpected consequences.”
His books have been published in translation in eight languages in twenty-two territories. Dennis has taught at the University of Toronto in the creative writing department for over 15 years.
Farah Heron is the critically acclaimed author of six romantic comedies for adults and young adults filled with huge South Asian families, delectable food, and most importantly, brown people falling stupidly in love. Farah’s debut, The Chai Factor was named one of the summer’s best books by The Globe and Mail, and was praised in Book Riot, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, Bustle and more. Her next release, Accidentally Engaged, was listed as a best book by Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, NPR, CBC Books, Kobo, and more. Her young adult debut, Tahira in Bloom, was praised as one of the best rom-coms of the year by USA today. Farah’s writing has been praised for being “full of heart and humor. …Farah Heron balances the ingredients for a charming romance: a heroine finding her way, a swoon worthy love, a complicated but loving family and a happily ever after.”―Shelf Awareness, and author Jenny Holiday says she “writes with the keen eye of a satirist and the big heart of a romantic.”
She lives in Toronto with her husband, two children, and a rabbit named Strawberry. She recently adopted two cats, who are now in charge.
Richard Scarsbrook is the author of ten books, including the novels The Troupers, The Indifference League, the National Post Bestseller Rockets Versus Gravity, and The Monkeyface Chronicles, which won the OLA White Pine Award. His short stories and poems have also appeared in The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, Descant, Existere, Prairie Fire, and NeWest Review, amongst many others. His first produced screenplay, Royal Blood, was an official selection at many international film festivals, and won Best Short Film at the TIFF-associated Milton Film Festival. He has served as Writer in Residence for the Toronto District School Board, and the Orangeville, Richmond Hill, and the Toronto Public Libraries. He also teaches creative writing at George Brown College and The Humber School for Writers.
Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek
Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek is an Acholi poet. Her collection 100 Days, a book of poetry that reflects on the meaning of memory two decades after the Rwanda genocide, was nominated for several prizes including the BC Book Prize, the Pat Lowther Award, the Alberta Book Awards and the Canadian Authors Award for Poetry. It won the IndieFab Book of the Year Award for poetry and the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. “What makes this collection such a pleasure to read,” says a Huffington Post review, “is that it’s laced with moments of such grace that you have to pause and re-read the lines again in order to reflect upon each phrase….a masterpiece of uncommon splendour and Juliane Okot Bitek is a virtuoso performing at the height of her powers.” Otoniya’s poem “Migration: Salt Stories” was shortlisted for the National Magazine Awards for Poetry, and “Gauntlet” was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize.
Her work has been published widely in publications such as Event, The Capilano Review, Room, and Arc, and anthologized in Love Me True: Writers Reflect on the Ups, Downs, Ins & Outs of Marriage, and Transition: Writing Black Canadas,, amongst others. Otoniya holds an MA in English, a BFA in Creative Writing, and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from UBC. She has been a Poetry Ambassador for the City of Vancouver, the Ellen and Warren Tallman Writer-in-Residence in the English Department at Simon Fraser University, and a Jack and Doris Shadbolt Fellow. She is currently an assistant professor of Black Creativity, English, and Creative Writing at Queen’s University.
Wanda Praamsma is a poet, writer, editor, yogini, and communications specialist with more than 15 years of experience in the higher education and international development sectors, and within national media organizations. She is the author of the book of poetry a thin line between, and aversions // nothing special, and her poems have appeared in periodicities, ottawater, eleven eleven, Lemon Hound, and The Feathertale Review. Several literary non-fiction pieces have appeared in the Toronto Star, where she worked for several years as an editor. She has worked, studied, and lived at various points in Salamanca, Spain, Santiago, Chile, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and has travelled to many places in between and beyond, including Cuba, India, and the Balkans. Praamsma currently lives in Kingston, Ontario.