Writer In Residence

Spreading the Word outreach programs extend the Writers Festival experience into classrooms that for geographic or economic reasons are unable to attend the Festival. The Writer in Residence Program connects authors with schools and communities throughout British Columbia.

The Writer in Residence program offers a one week residency for authors to work closely with students and to connect with the local community through readings at schools and community centres. Authors facilitate intensive workshops in secondary schools, while local elementary schools and community centers are treated to readings, lectures and discussions. This program directly targets communities where there is a need for educational resources, and whenever possible, we aim to involve Indigenous students. 

In late April 2017, award-winning poet Alex Leslie travelled to Penticton, B.C. to spend a week with students at Princess Margaret Secondary. 

Throughout the week, Leslie helped students find the poetry all around them - in text messages, in gossip, in signage - and put their own spin on it. 

Leslie wrote, "The Writer in Residence program gave me the opportunity to work in depth with two groups of 20-25 English 12 students for five consecutive days. We experimented with five structured writing exercises, each about an hour in length, in addition to freewriting, collaborative brainstorming, and editing. We devoted part of one session to typing up a piece from the workshops and I was able to give written comments and meet with students individually who had further questions. I also made myself available during lunchbreaks to answers students' writing and publishing questions.

"The students' poems produced from the workshops were very impressive, on topics ranging from their love of the Interior's hills and lakes, to their experiences of anxiety and depression, to gossip in their religious communities. The students were very engaged throughout the week and expressed appreciation of approaching literature and writing in a different way." 

Bio: Alex Leslie has published The Things I Heard about You (Nightwood Editions 2015), which was shortlisted for the 2014 Robert Kroesch award for innovative poetry;  a collection of stories, People Who Disappear (Freehand, 2012); as well as a chapbook of microfictions, 20 Objects for the New World (Freehand, 2011). Alex’s writing has won a Gold National Magazine Award for personal journalism and a CBC Literary Award for fiction. Recent projects include editing the Queer issue of Poetry Is Dead magazine, which brought together different approaches to Queer poetics from across Canada. Alex lives in Vancouver, BC. 

Click here to read about our past writers in residence.

The Writer in Residence Program is supported by the Michael R. Shaw Fund and the RJ Nelson Family Foundation.

About the Michael R. Shaw Fund - Michael R. Shaw was a young man who loved the outdoors, but whose life was cut short in 2003 when he and some of his classmates were swept away by an avalanche in British Columbia. The Michael R. Shaw Fund was established through the generorsity of the Woodward family, and the Festival is honoured to lend Michael's name to this program.