Writing the Line

A Creative Writing Conference at the University of Winnipeg

March 2-4, 2017


Biographies of the Writers

Rick Chafe is an award-winning playwright living in Winnipeg. He was the Carol Shields Writer-in-Residence for 2016. His most recent plays are Marriage: A Demolition in Two Acts (Prairie Theatre Exchange, Winnipeg), The Secret Mask (PTE Winnipeg, GCTC Ottawa, Presentation House Vancouver), and Beowulf (Two Planks and a Passion Nova Scotia).  Other plays include Shakespeare’s Dog, adapted from Leon Rooke’s Governor General’s Award-winning novel, The Odyssey, and Strike! The Musical co-written with Danny Schur, now in pre-production as a feature film. Currently, Rick is co-writing a new play with Yvette Nolan commissioned by PTE, "Both Alike in Dignity," as well as a play for Theatre Projects Manitoba about a couple going for Time Travel Therapy, "Five Moments." He also works with under-30’s artists to develop a playwriting/devised theatre hybrid creation laboratory in Theatre for Young Audiences at Manitoba Theatre for Young People. 

Lindsey Childs is an Assistant Editor at Prairie Fire magazine. A University of Winnipeg graduate in English with a specialization in Creative Writing, Lindsey completed Prairie Fire's 2009-10 Practicum in Publishing Communications and Leadership, has worked as Office Manager for Arts and Cultural Industries of Manitoba, and served on the board of The Writers’ Collective of Manitoba. She is a writer, artist and crafter who explores themes of nature and whimsy in her work.

Ginny Collins is a Winnipeg-based playwright who has worked with both the English and French theatre communities. Originally from Manitoba, Ginny lived and worked for several years in Africa and Latin America as a writer and communications specialist. She is a current member of the Prairie Theatre Exchange Playwrights Unit. Her latest play The Flats is being produced this season at Prairie Theatre Exchange and Théâtre Cercle Molière. In 2014, her play Good Intentions was produced at the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre. Her play The Good Daughter was published in the Breakout Anthology of Manitoba playwrights and was presented at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Ginny's short play Terroristas was also published by J G Shillingford Book Publisher in a collection of plays for female actors called Generation NeXXt. Ginny's other plays include Prairie Spirits (2009 Winnipeg Fringe Festival) and MBTV: Histoire en Direct - a bilingual children's play produced by Canadian Parents for French that toured Manitoba French Immersion schools in 2011/2012. Ginny is currently under commission by Prairie Theatre Exchange for her next play Revenge & Co.

Méira Cook’s first novel, The House on Sugarbush Road (Enfield & Wizenty), won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award in 2013. Her novel Nightwatching (HarperCollins) won the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction in 2016. She has published five poetry collections, most recently Monologue Dogs (Brick), which was nominated for the 2016 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry and for the 2016 McNally Robinson Book of the Year. She won the CBC Poetry Prize in 2007 and the inaugural Walrus Poetry Prize in 2012. Her poem "The Beautiful Assassin," published in Border Crossings, won a Manitoba Publishing Award, and her poem sequence "The Marriage Sonnets" won the Editor’s Choice Award in Arc Magazine’s Poem of the Year Competition. Her poetry has been featured in publications such as The Best of Walrus Poetry and Best Canadian Poetry. In 2011 she served as Writer in Residence at The University of Manitoba’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture, and was the 2013-14 Writer in Residence at the Winnipeg Public Library. Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, she now lives and writes in Winnipeg. Her latest novel, Once More With Feeling, will be published in Fall 2017.

Charlene Diehl (PhD) is a writer, editor, performer, and teacher, and has been at the helm of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival for over a dozen years. Her memoir, Out of Grief, Singing (Signature Editions, 2010) was shortlisted for two Manitoba Book Awards. Charlene has published a poetry collection, lamentations, three chapbooks, a critical study of Fred Wah, and poems, essays, and reviews in literary journals and anthologies. A lover of jazz, she has been the associate editor of Winnipeg’s jazz publication, dig! magazine, since 2005, and recently performed original poems from her chapbook, Songs for My Father, with A Flock of Bards, a band she co-leads with jazz bassist and composer Steve Kirby.

Andrew Eastman holds a 4-year BA in Creative Writing from The University of Winnipeg. His poetry has been featured in The Winnipeg Free Press, juicerip/torn, and CV2. While poetry is his primary art form, Andrew is also the co-founder of Synonym Art Consultation, a local arts initiative in Winnipeg. Synonym is committed to providing meaningful employment and mentorship opportunities to artists and to facilitate the celebration of art and culture with unique, inclusive, community-minded events that serve as safe spaces for diverse populations. Synonym's mural and culture festival, Wall-to-Wall, has cultivated a grassroots contemporary street art movement in our city and strives to participate in hyperlocal and international dialogues around important issues, such as Indigenous rights and socially-responsible, innovative economic development, rooted in the arts.

 J. Robert Ferguson is a poet, worker, and lapsed anarchist. He is currently working on an undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Winnipeg, where he is also an editorial intern with the student literary magazine juice. J. Robert Ferguson grew up in the Nova Scotian village of Bible Hill (really). He has lived in Halifax, Whitehorse, Guelph, and the southern Okanagan, and he now calls Winnipeg home. His poetry has appeared in Oratorealisjuice 16 and Lemon Hound’s "New Winnipeg Poets Folio," and he periodically contributes book reviews to Broken Pencil.

Clarise Foster is the Editor of Contemporary Verse 2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing. She is also the author of two collections of poetry, The Flame Tree and The Way Boys Sometimes Are, and has worked as a poetry editor for a number of local literary book publishers.

Martine Friesen has worked in the arts for over 30 years and is currently the theatre and writing and publishing program consultant at the Manitoba Arts Council.  Martine also runs several of MAC’s artist residency programs. Prior to her work at MAC, Martine was an actor, writer, and theatre producer. She has written numerous pieces for the stage as a playwright and monologist. Martine is a passionate advocate for public arts funding.

Hannah Green is the co-editor of the University of Winnipeg's creative writing journal, juice. Her poetry has appeared most recently in Arc and Matrix and is forthcoming in The Malahat Review. In July 2017, she will serve as artist-in-residence at Deep Bay in Riding Mountain National Park.

Maurice Mierau is the author of Detachment: An Adoption Memoir, which won the 2016 Kobzar Literary Award and the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction. He has published three books of poems, including Autobiographical Fictions and ReLit Award winner Fear Not. He was born in Indiana and grew up in Nigeria, Manitoba, Jamaica, Kansas, and Saskatchewan. Maurice now lives in Winnipeg where he works as a writer and editor.

Garry Thomas Morse is a two-time nominee for the Governor General’s Award for his poetry collections Discovery Passages and Prairie Harbour, and a two-time nominee for the ReLit Award for his speculative fiction novels, Minor Episodes / Major Ruckus and Rogue Cells / Carbon Harbour. He is currently an invasive species in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

David Alexander Robertson, of Irish, Scottish, English, and Cree heritage, is a graphic novelist and writer who has long been an advocate for educating youth on Indigenous history and contemporary issues. He has been recognized for his work in the field of Indigenous education and won the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer in 2015. David has created several bestselling graphic novels, including the 7 Generations series, the Tales From Big Spirit series, as well as his newest graphic novel Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story. He was a contributor to the anthologies Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings From the Land of Water and Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, and his work has been featured in CV2 and Prairie Fire. His first novel, The Evolution of Alice, was published in fall 2014.

Colin Smith is mostly a poet, and has tripped weirdly. Born 1957 in Oshawa, Ontario (General Motors town). In Toronto, achieved a BFA in General Honours (Creative Writing) from York University. Involvement with The Body Politic, a gay liberation paper. In Vancouver, involvement with the Kootenay School of Writing, a collectively organized artist-run centre for words (ideology). He currently lives in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 Territory, where he is involved with the Junto anarchist library, CKUW radio station, Speaking Crow reading series, and Contemporary Verse 2 journal.

Steven Ross Smith is a sound/performance/text poet and fictioneer who endeavours to work against conventions, especially his own, which may (or may not) be demonstrated in his performances, published books, and media recordings: Emanations: Fluttertongue 6 (Book Thug); Fluttertongue 5: Everything Appears To Shine With Mossy Splendour (Turnstone Press); and Fluttertongue 3: Disarray (Turnstone Press).

Tom Soares is a voice and speech coach and a professional actor who has worked in both capacities for film and for regional theatres in Winnipeg. He has an MFA in Acting specializing in spoken voice and teaches acting and voice at The University of Winnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film. Privately, Tom works with professionals, both one-on-one and in seminars, to overcome personal performance blocks, and to balance the vocal, physical, intellectual and emotional aspects of delivery which lead to a more dynamic and memorable speaker. Some of the organizations that he has worked with include: CTV News Winnipeg, The Winnipeg School Division and The Civil Service Commission, Province of Manitoba.   

Jennifer Still is a Winnipeg poet exploring intersections of language and aesthetics. Her second collection, Girlwood, was a finalist for the 2012 Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry and first-prize winner of the John V. Hicks Manuscript Award. In 2013 Jennifer won the Prairie Fire/Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Award. In 2012 she received the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. Jennifer has mentored writers and facilitated lively writing workshops through The University of Winnipeg Carol Shields’ Writer-in-Residence Program, The Banff Centre of the Arts Wired Writing Studio, The Manitoba Writers Guild Mentorship Program, and as a poetry editor for the literary journal CV2. Jennifer is the Winter 2017 Writer in Residence at The Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture, University of Manitoba. She is currently composing a "pierced" poem using a light source and a sewing needle. Her third collection, Comma, uses torn paper, shadings, erasures, and intervals, to investigate the instability of words and the nature of grief. Comma will appear with BookThug Books in spring 2017.

Joan Thomas is a University of Winnipeg graduate and the author of three novels. Her first book, Reading by Lightning, won a Commonwealth Writers Prize and the First Novel Award. Curiosity, a fictionalization of the life of 19th century fossilist Mary Anning, was nominated for the Giller Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Joan’s recent novel, The Opening Sky, was awarded the McNally Robinson Prize and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. Prior to writing fiction, Joan was a contributing reviewer and columnist for the Globe and Mail, and the winner of a National Magazine Award for Personal Journalism. She is the co-editor of two short story anthologies. In 2014 Joan Thomas was honoured with the Writers Trust of Canada’s Engel/Findley Award for a writer in mid-career.

Katherena Vermette is the University of Winnipeg's 2017 Carol Shields Writer-in-Residence. A Métis writer from Treaty One territory, Katherena won the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry for her first book, North End Love Songs and the First Novel Award for The Break. She is also the author of the children's picture-book series The Seven Teachings Stories. Her short film documentary, This River, was released in 2016.