Lit Jam 2017: Meet the Teams

IFOA is delighted to introduce to you the talented emerging writers from some of the province’s most esteemed creative writing programs who will participate in Lit Jam! Join them on February 1st and see them perform on our stage!

 

From University of Guelph Creative Writing MFA:

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Kris Bone is a writer (allegedly), a comedian (unfortunately), a humorist (ostensibly), and a bartender (or at least that’s what it says on his tax return). His writing has previously been featured in magazines like Broken Pencil and OxMag, and he was long listed for the CBC Canada Writes short story prize like four years ago and has never let anybody forget it.

 

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Award-winning animal-fanatic playwright, Radha Sciara-Menon was a working actor in British Theatre and television. A real beast. She moved to Canada and learned how to make films; but returned to her theatrical roots to explore the use of heightened language. In addition, Menon is an award-winning art director for indie and art house films and an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at University of Guelph. Her play Ganga’s Ganja, finalist of Herman Voaden Playwriting contest 2013 opens at Storefront Theatre, Toronto in April 2018.


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Talal Achi
is a first-year student in Guelph’s MFA program. He writes poetry and fiction. At the age of twelve he failed the rite of passage into adulthood. As he came before the table on which the knife, the conch shell, and the snakeskin were arranged and extended his hand in the proper way over the objects, he fainted quite inexplicably. As everybody knows, you only get one crack at the rite. Thus, Talal will never learn which of the three kinds of men he is, or if he is a man at all.

Their strategy for winning this competition:

1) Dress to impress.
2) Invoke the thrice-forsaken dark literary rituals, at the risk of our very souls, in order to commune with the spirits of Canadian authors past and bring their hallowed talent to bear on our performance.
3) Have fun and make friends.

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From the Humber School For Writers:

nicky-borland

Nicky Borland attended the Humber School for Writers Fall Workshop in 2016, where she was mentored by author Samantha Harvey. She has also taken IFOA writing courses and workshops with novelist Brian Francis. Nicky has worked as a proofreader, writer and transcriber and currently edits web content for a living. Sometimes she writes things about books and words and posts them on www.nickyborland.com.

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Trish Bentley is the editor-in-chief and founder of thepurplefig.com. She received her degree from The New School University in NYC where she endured endless fiction writing workshops and a few cop ride-alongs in Harlem reporting the news. She is a regular columnist for The Huffington Post and has written for The New York Press, 12 St. Journalshedoesthecity.com. She has also published the children’s book, About Town with Benny Be. Trish lives in Toronto with her husband, their three boys and Benny the dog.

 

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Adam Elliott Segal is a Toronto-based writer and editor. His work has been published in enRoute, Chatelaine, Reader’s Digest, The Vancouver Province, Sportsnet, The Feathertale Review and subTerrain. In 2013, his short story “Richard” won first runner-up in the 2013 LUSH Triumphant Literary Awards. After previous editorial positions at Toro, Spafax and Sportsnet, he published MMA Now and Basketball Now with Firefly Books and is currently at work on a forthcoming magazine feature for Maisonneuve about black market adoption in Montreal. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario and the Ryerson Publishing Program, he recently completed the Humber School for Writers Fiction Workshop and is currently working on a novel through the Humber School For Writers Correspondence Program.

Their strategy for winning this competition:

1. Create interesting, relatable characters.
2. Collaborate as storytellers and connect with the audience.
3. Be spontaneous!

SCAPA_Logo_ColourThe Humber School for Writers


From Ryerson University English Faculty of Arts:

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Kathryn Stagg is a recent graduate of Ryerson University’s Literatures of Modernity MA program. Following graduation, she worked as a post-graduate Research Assistant in the Department of English at Ryerson. Kathryn is currently working as a freelance writer, a staff writer for the Town Crier, and an organising member of the Slackline Creative Arts Series. In her free time, Kathryn writes fiction that ranges in quality from positively poor to could-be-worse. She lives in Toronto.

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Kailey Havelock is presently completing a SSHRC-funded MA in Literatures of Modernity at Ryerson University. She works as a poetry reader at The Puritan, a columnist on The Town Crier, and an Editorial Assistant at White Wall Review.
Her creative and academic writing has been published in print and online by Soliloquies Anthology, Subversions, F Word, Integrated Journal, L.U.C.C. Proceedings, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality, Lemon Hound, and Writers Read. Links and details are available at kaileyhavelock.com.

 

maluka

Daniel Maluka is a writer of poetry and prose and an infrequent artist. Daniel values self expression and is drawn to work that moves. He is looking forward to doing some travelling after University.

Their strategy for winning this competition:
1. Create a fun and engaging story.
2. Brush up on our improvisation skills.
3. Make Ryerson proud!

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From University of Toronto Scarborough English Department

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Trevon Smith is a 4th year Journalism student and habitual procrastinator. He never gave much thought to creative writing, but after a few classes at UTSC it’s all he really thinks about. Maybe he’ll get around to writing a book someday, but for now he’ll just be brushing up on the basics.

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Janet Monk is a third year student at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, currently enrolled in the Creative Writing Minor, Music and Culture Major, and History Minor programs. She enjoys writing short fiction, memoir, and is currently writing her first science fiction novel. In her spare time, Janet volunteers for two Toronto conventions where she directs the Ad Astra Masquerade and co-directs the Anime North Masquerade. Most recently, Janet and her brother Ian began the production of their first puzzle-horror video game, for which she has written the original soundtrack and script. Janet enjoys taking risks in her writing and sets boundaries for herself in order to challenge the limits of her creativity. Improvisation of literature is a new concept which Janet is excited to explore with her teammates. She wishes all participants good luck and looks forward to meeting everyone at the event.

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Cassandra MacDonald is a self-proclaimed queen and otherwise-proclaimed dork. She is a student of mental health, creative writing, and sociology at UTSC, and an unashamed tabletop role-play geek. She was drafted into this against her will. But she is still full-committed to this wild Lit Jam ride.

Their strategy for winning this competition:

1) Have absolute trust in our teammates.
2) Have absolute trust in our individual ability to tell a story with confidence.
3) Practice, practice, and even more practice

 

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Humber School for Writers presents: How We Write

By Janet Somerville

Workshop leaders Kevin Barry, Wayson Choy, Karen Connelly, Valerie Martin and Nino Ricci appeared in conversation on Wednesday with Antanas Sileika, novelist and Director of the Humber School for Writers, and their discussion opened with their responses to this question: What should a beginning writer know?

Kevin Barry

Kevin Barry and Karen Connelly

Dublin IMPAC-winning novelist Kevin Barry began by suggesting that “books and stories come out of our fear and anxiety, out of our dark places” and that it was essential to “finish everything. You must finish the bad stories so you know what the good ones are when they come.” His other advice: “Develop in yourself a sense of patience. There’s always a glow when something is finished, and that’s when you should put it in a drawer.” Finally, he referenced Annie Dillard’s wisdom to “keep your overhead low.”

Contrarian Karen Connelly, author of The Lizard Cage, claimed, “I encourage you all to be atypical. Penelope Fitzgerald didn’t start publishing until she was 62. You have to have the courage to take your life and return it to the world. Be daring.” Veteran American novelist and Orange Prize winner Valerie Martin, whose most recent book is The Ghost of Mary Celeste, insisted she has lived and written by the motto that “art saves your life and art ruins your life.” Her sensible advice: “Be patient. Be dogged. Don’t be afraid.”

Karen Connelly

Karen Connelly

Trillium Book Award winner Wayson Choy, whose The Jade Peony is now in its 30th printing, said, “Learn about craft. Figure out, for example, how James Joyce wrote such a memorable ending to ‘The Dead.’” Nino Ricci, whose first novel, Lives of the Saints, won the Governor General’s Literary Award, claimed his delusion he had as a young writer kept him going: “You want to keep a writer writing, by not telling them the truth.” Ricci suggested also to ignore the tolling laments of “Nobody’s reading anymore” and “The novel is dead,” because “the joy of the first book that you write is a gift you will never have again. Just write. Do as much as possible. Every day.”

Responding to Sileika’s prompt, “What do you mean about writing about life in the world,” Connelly said, “I lived in Thailand and I wanted to keep moving. I wanted to live in other cultures and discover what it meant to be human in different places. It’s such a powerful and transformative experience. Where your body is is what you’re going to write about. It’s good to feel born in the wrong place, because it makes you curious and seeking.”

For Choy, “Chinatown was a place I wanted to forget about. It was a ghetto. People only spoke with each other. But, Chinatown travelled with me. Carol Shields suggested in a creative writing class that I write about it. It turns out that who you are and where you come from may be the source of your greatest material.”

About his bold use of language in City of Bohane, Sileika asked Barry, “How do you make language fresh?” His answer: “I grew up in Limerick and Cork in working class communities. Language is used and abused there. I wanted to free myself from having to hove to the actual. It’s kind of a retro future in 2053, but I wanted to give the sense that it could be 1853 or 1953, that is, another world.”

Wondering how Nino Ricci dared to go into the territory he did in Testament, Ricci said, “People don’t really care that much about Christianity anymore. As a child, I always believed that Jesus was Italian. In my novel he’s the son of a Roman soldier. And, it seemed to me that we were living such unexamined lives about religion.”

Wayson Choy

Wayson Choy

Each writer described their process. Barry said he tries “to be still half asleep when I write. You’re closest to the murky place then. DeLillo says, ‘write when you are puddled in dream melt.’ And, places where you embarrass yourself and recoil in horror, those are the good bits.” Connelly insisted that for her, “procrastination is an important part of the process. I read. I do administrative work, and then I write in the afternoon, often standing up, for two to three hours each day.” Like Kevin Barry, Valerie Martin admitted to writing best “when I’m fresh from the dream. Often I’ll start about the dream. I write longhand on loose leaf paper.” Choy claimed he begins with a ritual: “I take out all of my fountain pens and arrange them. It’s sort of zen. Now I write in transit. When I can. When I will.” Ricci lamented making the mistake “of switching from handwriting to computer” and pledged that he’d change his ways.

Develop patience. Learn craft. Don’t be afraid. Have the courage to take your life and return it to the world.

Follow Janet Somerville on Twitter @janetsomerville.