Goals and History

Writer in Residence

George Whalley Visiting Professorship

English DSC


Writer in Residence

For one term each academic year, the Department of English welcomes a writer in residence to participate in a range of literary events and to offer advice and mentorship to students involved in creative writing. This program is supported by a Canada Council grant and by Queen's University. The Department is grateful to Carolyn Smart for organizing the writer in residence program, and to Pat Rae and Marta Straznicky, successive Heads of the Department, for their help in establishing it.

Fall Term 2015: Emily Pohl-Weary

Emily Pohl-Weary
Photo: Derek Wuenschirs

Office: Watson 529
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays (by appointment) until 2 December 2015

An award-winning author, editor and arts educator, Emily Pohl-Weary has published seven books, a series of girl pirate comics, and her own literary magazine.

Her most recent book, Ghost Sick (2015), is poetry about Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood (where she grew up). The Chronicle-Herald said, “like Holocaust witness poet Paul Celan, Pohl-Weary checks tabloids, billboards, newsflashes, for the language to bespeak domesticated violence.” And Broken Pencil noted, “though composed in response to tragedy, this is a book that looks forward towards a better city, better citizens, and a better society.”

She has also written three novels. Her young adult fantasy novel, Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl (2013), has been called “a welcome twist on the paranormal genre” (Quill & Quire) and “a compelling story about growing up, artistic integrity and feminism” (National Post). Previous works include a Hugo Award-winning biography, a ghost love story, a middle-grade mystery novel, and a female superhero anthology.

This past year, Emily's been a writer-in-residence at the Pierre Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon; the University of the Fraser Valley, BC; and for the Toronto Public Library system’s eWriter-in-Residence for Young Voices.

For eight years, she has taught creative writing and facilitated long-running workshops for inner-city youth, psychiatric system survivors (the Dream Team), and residents of Sagatay - Na-Me-Res (a long-term transition home for First Nations, Metis and Inuit men). She also co-founded the Academy of the Impossible, a community learning centre where people taught each other through innovative artistic, technological, social and literacy programs.

Emily is currently writing a new teen novel and completing her PhD in Adult Education at the University of Toronto, focusing on how creative writing groups can be a form of community development. She is available for manuscript feedback and consultations throughout the fall term.

Fall Term 2014: Steven Heighton

Steven Heighton
Photo: Mary Huggard

Steven Heighton’s most recent books are the Trillium Award finalist The Dead Are More Visible (stories) and Workbook (memos and essays on writing). His novel Afterlands appeared in six countries; was a New York Times Book Review editors’ choice; was cited on best-of-year lists in ten publications in Canada, the USA, and the UK; and has been optioned for film. His stories and poetry have received four gold National Magazine Awards and have appeared in London Review of Books, Best English Stories, Best American Poetry, Zoetrope, Tin House, Poetry, Brick, TLR, New England Review, Agni, and five editions of Best Canadian Stories. He has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award and Britain’s W. H. Smith Award and is a fiction reviewer for the New York Times Book Review.

Heighton has also been active as a teacher, editor, and mentor. He was the 2013 Mordecai Richler Writer-in-Residence at McGill University, and has also been writer-in-residence at Massey College, University of Toronto; Concordia University; the University of Ottawa; St Mary’s University; RMC; and McArthur College, Queen's. He has led classes in fiction and poetry at the Summer Literary Seminars in St Petersburg, Russia; the Banff Centre; Green College, UBC; and many at other workshops in Kingston, Winnipeg, Toronto, Whitehorse, Fernie, Montreal, Fredericton, Charlottetown, and Edmonton.

Fall Term 2013: Tim Wynne-Jones

Tim Wynne-Jones

Officer of the Order of Canada and two-time winner of the Governor-General’s Award, Tim Wynne-Jones is recognized internationally as one of the leading contemporary writers of complex and challenging fiction for young adults. The Queen's and Kingston communities will delight in the opportunity to learn from him and to receive his commentary on their works-in-progress.

He is widely known for his work in several genres: writing for children; young adult writing; and general literary fiction. Academics speak of Tim’s “lyrical, insightful, and sometimes ironic vision of the function of language” and his “playfully brilliant conceptions of the workings of metaphor and the cosmic wonder of language.” His project, a series of public lectures entitled Making Stories: Talks on Fiction and Writing Craft will take place on five consecutive Tuesday afternoons beginning 29 October 2013 in Watson 517; for further details, consult the events listing.

Tim’s broad experience as a workshop leader, as a university lecturer, and most importantly his immense catalogue of creative writing makes him one of the most significant and admired writers and literary mentors in Canada.

Fall Term 2012: Phil Hall

Phil Hall

2011 was an extraordinary year for Phil Hall: his collection Killdeer won the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the Trillium Prize, and was short-listed for the Griffin Prize.

“Phil Hall’s first small book, Eighteen Poems, was published by Cyanamid, the Canadian mining company, in Mexico City, in 1973. Among his many titles are: Old Enemy Juice (1988), The Unsaid (1992), and Hearthedral—A Folk-Hermetic (1996). In the early 80s, Phil was a member of the Vancouver Industrial Writers’ Union, and also a member of the Vancouver Men Against Rape Collective. He has taught writing at York University, Ryerson University, Seneca College, George Brown College, and elsewhere. He has been poet-in-residence at Sage Hill Writing Experience (Saskatchewan), The Pierre Berton House (Dawson City, Yukon), and elsewhere. Hall also currently works as a poetry manuscript midwife, a distance program offered by the Toronto New School of Writing. In 2007, BookThug published Phil’s long poem, White Porcupine. Also in 2007, he and his wife, Ann, walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. He is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, and lives near Perth, Ontario. Recent books include An Oak Hunch (shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2006) and The Little Seamstress.

“Judges’ Citation: Straddling the thin line between argument and lyric, the ‘Essay-Poems’ of Killdeer are deceptively prosodic, and can switch from the stark and factual to short flights of startling, gorgeous lyricism: ‘Killdeer on my oozing stumps… Whipped the years’ butcher block rings to crèche shavings… Her desperate ruse has settled into gunwales—her closed cry a prow’s nib.’ Suspicious of artifice, surgically self-evaluating, Hall’s poems at once pay tribute to writers and friends who have shaped his sense of integrity while analyzing his own progress and methods as an artist. A record of private and imaginative growth, Killdeer builds a powerful narrative of recognition, attesting to the introspective mind’s capacity to transgress pain. This document of the examined life, through its hard-nosed accretion of realizations, is remarkably moving as it rows tenaciously between ‘islands of repair.’ Full of unease, gratitude, humour, intellectual and personal challenges, and not without bite, Killdeer is a testament to the creative life as an act of faith and transformation.” (From the Griffin Poetry Prize web site)

Winter Term 2012: Diane Schoemperlen

Diane Schoemperlen

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Diane Schoemperlen has published several collections of short fiction and three novels, In the Language of Love (1994), Our Lady of the Lost and Found (2001), and At A Loss For Words (2008). Her 1990 collection, The Man of My Dreams, was shortlisted for both the Governor-General’s Award and the Trillium. Her collection, Forms of Devotion: Stories and Pictures won the 1998 Governor-General’s Award for English Fiction. Her first non-fiction book, Names of the Dead: An Elegy for the Victims of September 11 was published in August 2004 and was included in the Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of the Year. Her books have been published in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Sweden, Spain, France, Korea, and China. In 2008, she received the Marian Engel Award from the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Diane Schoemperlen lives in Kingston, Ontario, with her son Alexander, her cat Sammy, and her little dogs Nelly and Maggie.

Fall Term 2010: Stuart Ross

Stuart Ross

Stuart Ross is a Cobourg-based writer, editor, and creative-writing instructor. He is the Fiction and Poetry Editor for This Magazine and Poetry Editor for Toronto’s Mansfield Press. For the past three decades, he has also run his own micropress and a series of small literary journals. He is the co-founder of the Toronto Small Press Book Fair and a founding member of the Meet the Presses Collective, dedicated to promoting small press books and magazines. Stuart also co-runs the Patchy Squirrel Lit-Serv, a free weekly e-listings service for the Toronto literary community.

Stuart has given readings at hundreds of venues in Canada, the US, England, and Nicaragua. His work has appeared in scores of journals here and in the US, including Harper’s, The Walrus, This Magazine, Geist, Rampike, Canadian Forum, Event, West Coast Line, Arc, The Capilano Review, Industrial Sabotage, Taddle Creek, Pax Americana, and Bomb Threat Checklist.

His poetry collections from ECW Press are The Inspiration Cha-Cha (1996); Farmer Gloomy’s New Hybrid (1999), which was shortlisted for the 2000 Trillium Book Award; Razovsky at Peace (2001); and Hey, Crumbling Balcony! Poems New & Selected (2003). Other poetry titles are I Cut My Finger (Anvil Press, 2007) and Dead Cars in Managua (DC Books, 2008). Stuart’s fiction includes the short novels The Pig Sleeps (with Mark Laba; Contra Mundo Books, 1991), The Mud Game (with Gary Barwin; The Mercury Press, 1995), and the short-story collections Henry Kafka and Other Stories (The Mercury Press, 1997) and Buying Cigarettes for the Dog (Freehand Books, 2009). In spring 2011, ECW Press will publish his novel Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew. He is also the author of Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer (Anvil Press, 2005), the editor of Surreal Estate: 13 Canadian Poets Under the Influence (The Mercury Press, 2004), and the editor of Rogue Stimulus: The Stephen Harper Holiday Anthology for a Prorogued Parliament (Mansfield Press, 2010).

Stuart was the 2002 Writer in Residence for the Writers’ Circle of Durham Region, the 2003 Poet in Residence for the Ottawa International Writers’ Festival, and the 2005 Electronic Writer in Residence for the Toronto Public Library’s youth website. Stuart has taught writing at the elementary and high-school levels and has led his one-day intensive Poetry Boot Camp across Canada. For the past five years, he has had a multi-week spring residency in elementary and secondary schools in the Kootenays, BC. As a freelance editor and a one-on-one writing coach, he has worked with writers in many genres and at all levels. He has also led workshops in fiction, poetry, memoir, editing, and getting published.

Winter Term 2009: Helen Humphreys

Helen Humphreys

Helen Humphreys is the acclaimed author of five novels, including The Lost Garden (a CBC Canada Reads selection for 2003), Wild Dogs (winner of the 2005 Lambda Award for fiction) and Afterimage (winner of the Rogers Trust Fiction award 2000). Her recent non-fiction volume, The Frozen Thames, was a national bestseller. Before turning to fiction, she published four volumes of poetry, including Anthem, the winner of the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Award in the year 2000.

Winter Term 2008: Billeh Nickerson

Billeh Nickerson

The writer in residence for Winter 2008 is Billeh Nickerson. He is a poet and instructor at Kwantlen University College in Vancouver, and is a groundbreaking figure on the Canadian literary scene, particularly in queer culture. He has written two books of poetry and non-fiction, Let Me Kiss It Better: Elixirs for the Not So Straight and Narrow (2002), and The Asthmatic Glassblower and Other Poems (2000). He is also co-editor, with John Barton, of the first-ever anthology of writing by gay men in Canada, Seminal: The Anthology of Canada’s Gay Male Poets (2007). Nickerson held a series of readings, private consultations with student writers, and writing workshops. He also held a salon with students interested in acquiring skills in the business of editing and publishing.

Fall Term 2006: Lillian Allen

Lillian Allen

Lillian Allen was the Department’s Writer in Residence during the fall term 2006. Lillian Allen is an internationally renowned poet and writer of short stories and plays, and an influential figure on the Canadian cultural landscape. She specializes in the writing and performing of dub poetry, and her work has earned her many honours, including two Juno Awards (1986 and 1988, for her recordings Revolutionary Tea Party and Conditions Critical, respectively). She has also won an Outstanding Contribution to the Arts Award, membership in the League of Canadian poets (1992), and an honorary doctorate at the University of Toronto (1992). She has worked in film, both as a featured artist (Revolution from de Beat, 1995; Unnatural Causes, 1989; Rhythm and Hardtimes, 1987) and as a co-producer and co-director (Blak ... Wi Blakk..., 1994, a film on dub poet Mutabaruka). Finally, in addition to her creative work, she has been a consultant and advisor to government and community groups on matters of cultural diversity; she is a member of the Racial Equity Advisor of the Canada Council and an executive director of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. For efforts of the latter kind, she was awarded the William P. Hubbard Race Relations Award from the City of Toronto in 2004.