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:

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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!

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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.

 

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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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What makes a good story? – Danila Botha

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Danila Botha hails from Johannesburg. She moved to Canada when she was a teenager. She is the author of one novel and two volumes of short stories, Got No Secrets, Too Much on the Inside, and most recently For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known. She is a winner of the Book Excellence Award for Contemporary Novel.

Danila will act as a judge with Joseph Kertes and Shari Lapena at IFOA’s Lit Jam event on February 1st. Join them and CBC’s Gill Deacon for a night of on-the-spot creativity and storytelling like never before!

Here is what she had to say about her expectations as a judge. She also shares some tips of what makes a good story!


IFOA: What are you looking forward to as a judge at IFOA’s Lit Jam?

DB: I am really looking forward to to watching and encouraging emerging writers. This event is so unique-first of all, there’s the spontaneity and inventiveness of live storytelling, there’s the resourcefulness and talent of improvisation, and there’s also the collaborative nature of writers working in teams to tell stories. I can’t wait to see the brilliant and original ideas and hear the stories they come up with. I think it’s going to be really inspiring for all of us.

IFOA: What, in your opinion, makes a good story?

DB: I think regardless of writing style, or subject matter, what the best stories have in common is desire. We read about a character who desperately wants something- and we feel deeply invested in them finding, or achieving or struggling to have the thing that they want most.

Lisa Moore described it perfectly in an interview a few years ago: “Desire is luminous and [it makes characters] alive and indelible. It doesn’t matter if… they are worthy of what they want. What matters is if we [the readers] are caught up in the sweeping spotlight of that desire.”

I love complex, three dimensional characters whose motives aren’t always clear. The more outside of my own experience or frame of reference a character’s choices or experiences are, the more I enjoy reading about them (and writing them!) I think the best stories show us new perspectives, and insights, and help us understand, or be more compassionate. I also love great dialogue and a good sense of humor. My favourite stories always contain elements of the unexpected.

IFOA:  Have you ever participated in an event like this one? Do you have any advice to share with the participants?

DB: I wish I had, I’m sure I would have loved to have participated in an event like this.

The first time I ever read to a large group was when I did the Humber School for Writers Summer Intensive Program in the mid 2000’s. I read from a short story called Paradox (which later became part of  my first collection of short stories). On the surface, the story is actually very dark, but I realized that I could play with the tone, and emphasize humor or aspects of the story that might not necessarily be obvious on the page. It was such a great feeling to hear the audience react- to hear them laugh, or gasp in shock, or just see them listening intently. Reading and performance is such a great way of engaging readers- enjoy the process, because it’s a wonderful way of getting an audience to connect with a story. Also, (and I think about this all the time, too) it’s important to believe in your ideas and to have the confidence to tell the story, or stories that you most want to tell. Those are the stories that resonate the most.


 

 

Lit Jam

Get ready for the first ever Lit Jam this February 1st at Harbourfront Centre.

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You’re probably thinking, what is Lit Jam? It is a storytelling game show-esque hybrid event where four teams of emerging writers from the province’s top creative writing programs compete for a cash prize by improvising a story on stage! In addition to a cash prize the winners will have their story published online in NOW Toronto.

Here’s how it works:

We ask the public to submit a one sentence story prompt online using #LitJam or upon arrival at the event.

One representative from each team of students from the Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts, Ryerson University, the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto will choose their order.

Each team of students from the University of Guelph Creative Writing MFAHumber School of Creative and Performing Arts, Ryerson University and the University of Toronto will have five minutes on stage to create and perform the story before your eyes.

Our team of judges, Danila Botha, Joseph Kertes and Shari Lapena will choose the winning team with the help of the audience.

The winning team will receive a cash prize and their story will be published in NOW Magazine online.

Already have ideas of opening sentences for our contestants? Send your story prompts to us by email to media@ifoa.org with subject line Lit Jam, post them to the Facebook event or tweet @ifoa using #LitJam.

We hope you will join us for this interactive night of storytelling!