Jillian Christmas was born and raised in Markham, Ontario. She currently lives in Vancouver, BC., where she serves as co-director of Versəs Festival of Words. She has won Grand Poetry-Slam Championship titles at both the Vancouver BedRocc poetry-slam (2011), as well as the Vancouver Poetry Slam (2012). An enthusiastic organizer within the Canadian poetry community, Jillian has developed and executed programs in partnership with Toronto Poetry Project, Wordplay, Brendan McLeod’s Travelling Slam and the CULTCH Mentorship, and facilitated spoken word workshops for youth and adults across the country.
She is the founder of Toronto’s acclaimed Peace Pipe Poetry Sessions on Bloor, former Artistic director of the East Van Culture Awards, as well as past and present Volunteer coordinator for Hullabaloo: Youth Spoken Word Festival. She is the former Secretary and current Member at Large for Spoken Word Canada. As her most recent personal, artistic endeavour, Jillian tours the west coast experimenting with music/poetry fusion, collaborating with the likes of The Recipe, C. R. Avery, and powerhouse vocalist Chelsea D. E. Johnson.
Photo and description taken from: tonightitspoetry.com
Charles Demers is an author, stand-up comedian, and faculty in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia. His collection of essays, Vancouver Special (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009), was shortlisted for the Hubert Evans BC Book Prize for Non-Fiction. He is also the author of a novel, The Prescription Errors (Insomniac Press, 2009). As a stand-up comic, he has performed for national television and radio audiences, and at the Just For Laughs Festival. He is one of the most frequently returning stars of CBC Radio’s smash-hit comedy The Debaters, with a weekly listening audience of 750,000. Demers lives in Vancouver, BC.
Charles' most recent books include The Horrors: An A to Z of Funny Thoughts on Awful Things (Douglas&McIntyre, 2015) and The Dad Dialogues: A Correspondence on Fatherhood (and the Universe) (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016) co-written with George Bowering.
Photo and description taken from: douglas-mcintyre.com
John Donlan was raised in Baysville, a hamlet of 200 people in Ontario’s Muskoka district on the Canadian Shield. His father worked with teams of horses hauling logs in the bush; neighbours raised skunks, crows, and porcupines as domestic pets (a neighbour’s crow, named for his father, stole clothespins from the wash to tease his mother).
Surrounded by some of Canada’s most beautiful wilderness (celebrated in the paintings of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven), the poet developed a deep sense of belonging in the natural world.
He is a poetry editor with Brick Books.
He was the 2012 Barbara Moon Editorial Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto, and Writer in Residence at Saskatoon Public Library and Campbell River.
John Donlan’s poems and reviews have appeared in leading journals in Canada, the United States, and Iran.
Additionally, he has given readings and conducted writing workshops in schools, libraries, universities, and art galleries throughout Canada and the United States while his books of poetry – Domestic Economy, Baysville, Green Man, and Spirit Engine – are available either from the author or the works’ respective publishers; they can also be found in fine bookstores across the continent.
Photo and description taken from: johndonlan.wordpress.com
Wayne Johnston was born and raised in Goulds, Newfoundland. After a brief stint in pre-Med, Wayne obtained a BA in English from Memorial University. He worked as a reporter for the St. John's Daily News before deciding to devote himself full-time to writing.
En route to being published, Wayne earned an MA (Creative Writing) from the University of New Brunswick. Then he got off to a quick start. His first book, The Story of Bobby O'Malley, published when he was just 27 years old, won the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel award for the best first novel published in the English language in Canada in that year. Subsequent books consistently received critical praise and increasing public attention. The Divine Ryans was adapted to the silver screen in a production starring Academy Award winner Pete Postlethwaite - Wayne wrote the screenplay. Baltimore's Mansion, a memoire dealing with his grandfather, his father and Wayne himself was tremendously well received and won the most prestigious prize for creative non-fiction awarded in Canada - the Charles Taylor Prize. Both The Colony of Unrequited Dreams and The Navigator of New York spent extended periods of time on bestseller lists in Canada and have also been published in the US, Britain, Germany, Holland, China and Spain. Colony was identified by the Globe and Mail newspaper as one of the 100 most important Canadian books ever produced (including both fiction and non-fiction).
Photo and description taken from: waynejohnston.ca
Molly Peacock is a poet, biographer, essayist, and short fiction writer whose multi-genre literary life has taken her from New York City to Toronto, from poetry to prose, from words to words-and-pictures, and from lyric self-examination to curiosity about the lives of others. Her newest book is The Analyst: poems. The Analyst tells the story of a decades-long patient-therapist relationship that reverses after the analyst’s stroke and continues to evolve. She is also the author of the best-selling biography The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 (McClelland & Stewart in Canada, Scribe in Australia and New Zealand; Bloomsbury in the US and UK ). Beginning her literary life as a poet, she has published six books of poetry, including The Second Blush (W.W. Norton and Company; McClelland & Stewart) and Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems (W.W. Norton and Company; McClelland & Stewart).
A dynamic speaker, she has spread the word about late-life creativity, poetry, and the artist’s life from The Art Gallery of Ontario to the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia, from NPR to the CBC. She is a subject of a documentary film by Renee McCormick, A Life Outside Convention.
Photo and description taken from: mollypeacock.org
Briony Penn is a naturalist, writer, educator, and broadcaster well known in BC for her indomitable spirit and tireless devotion to protecting endangered species and sensitive ecosystems in her native British Columbia.
Penn has published hundreds of articles in newspapers and magazines, government publications and peer-reviewed journals. She’s written environmental guides and handbooks for teachers in British Columbia on topics ranging from forest ecosystems and biodiversity to the natural and cultural history of the Salish Sea.
Books by Briony Penn include:
Briony Penn, was awarded the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize for her book The Real Thing: The Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan.
Photo and excerpt from: cowantherealthing.com
Daniel Heath Justice is a Colorado-born Canadian citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He received his B.A. from the University of Northern Colorado and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before coming to UBC, he spent ten years as a faculty member in the Department of English at the University of Toronto, where he was also an affiliate of the Aboriginal Studies Program.
Daniel currently holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture. He is the author of Our Fire Survives the Storm: A Cherokee Literary History and numerous essays in the field of Indigenous literary studies, as well as co-editor of a number of critical and creative anthologies and journals, including The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature (with James H. Cox) and the award-winning Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature (with Qwo-Li Driskill, Deborah Miranda, and Lisa Tatonetti). He is also the author of Badger in the celebrated Animal series from Reaktion Books (UK).
2015 marks the tenth publication anniversary of the first volume in Daniel’s Indigenous epic fantasy series, The Way of Thorn and Thunder, which was published under that title in an omnibus edition in 2011. His current projects include Why Indigenous Literatures Matter, a literary manifesto forthcoming from Wilfrid Laurier University Press in 2016, a collection of essays and short stories titled Imagining Otherwise: Reflections on Indigenous Belonging and Desire, as well as a new dark fantasy trilogy, a cultural history of raccoons, and a critical monograph on other-than-human kinship in Indigenous writing.
Photo and description taken from: http://fnis.arts.ubc.ca/persons/daniel-justice/
Yasuko Nguyen Thanh is a Canadian novelist and short story writer born June 30, 1971 in Victoria, British Columbia to a German mother and a Vietnamese father. She was named one of ten CBC Books' writers to watch in 2013. At 15, Thanh dropped out of school and lived on the streets. Previous to winning the Journey Prize for her short story Floating Like the Dead in 2009, Thanh earned her living as a busker, an opium dealer, a cleaner of goat pens, a Bed & Breakfast operator, housekeeper, and panhandler. She has lived in Canada, Mexico, Germany, Honduras. Thanh completed a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria. She screams in the punk band 12 Gauge Facial, and lives with her husband, Hank Angel, and her two children on Vancouver Island, BC.
Thanh's debut novel, Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains, forthcoming with Penguin's Hamish Hamilton Imprint April 2016, is based on Thanh's family stories and the real-life Hanoi Poisoning Plot of 1908.
Photo and description taken from: yasukothanh.com
Grant joined the 2016 Words on the Water festival as a guest author; Now he's back as our Master of Ceremonies!
For years, the gregarious and encyclopedic Lawrence has hosted the top-rated CBC Radio 3 Podcast with Grant Lawrence, a monthly showcase of Canadian independent music. Grant is also the host of CBC Radio 3′s popular web radio station, also airing on Sirius XM 162. Grant can be heard throughout the week and weekend on various CBC Radio One programs such as DNTO, North by Northwest, All Points West, RadioWest, On The Coast, and various afternoon programs across the country, and has been a frequent past contributor to Q, Spark, and Sounds Like Canada. In the summer of 2012, Grant hosted The Wild Side on CBC Radio One. In 2014, Grant won a Canadian Screen Award for his onscreen work with CBC Music presents: the Beetle Roadtrip Sessions.
For more about Grant Lawrence, see his author profile from our 2016 festival.
Photo and excerpt from: grantlawrence.ca
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.
Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.