THE 2019 MENTORSHIP PARTICIPANTS
RECOGNISING THE IMPORTANCE of Canada’s non-fiction writers, the RBC Taylor Prize has matched this year’s shortlisted authors with five of the top emerging voices in the genre of literary non-fiction.
The five participants are:
MENTOR: ELIZABETH HAY
Blake won the CBC Nonfiction Prize in 2017 and the CBC Short Story Prize in 2013. She is a graduate of the Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Guelph, and her work has appeared in journals, magazines, and newspapers across Canada. Her debut novel, Proof I Was Here, is forthcoming from Wolsak & Wynn’s Buckrider Books in May 2019. She currently lives in Toronto where she is working on a memoir-in-essays called Everything I’m About to Say Is a Lie. The title refers to the recommended way to answer a phone that’s been tapped (as Blake’s once was). Her memoir draws on this and other experiences ranging from the criminal to the comical as she examines the singular power of a true story and the license we sometimes take to tell one.
MENTOR: KATE HARRIS
Johnson is of both Metis and African ancestry. After graduating from Acadia University and an early career in theatre, he attended Concordia University in Montreal to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. In keeping with the military traditions within his family, Johnson enrolled in the Canadian Forces as an Infantry Officer and was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2010. Now released from the military, Johnson is returning to a career in writing. He resides in Three Mile Plains, NS, his childhood home, and is in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction at University of King’s College in Halifax. Some Kind of Hero is a compelling account of the circumstances leading to Afghan vet Lionel Desmond’s tragic 2017 murder/suicide, and the lessons we need to learn from it.
MENTOR: DARREL J. MCLEOD
Knott is of Dane Zaa, Nehiyaw, and mixed Euro descent from Prophet River First Nations, living in Fort St. John, BC. She has published short stories and poetry in the Malahat Review, Red Rising Magazine, through CBC Arts, the Surviving Canada Anthology, alongside other publications and poetry video productions. In 2017, Helen was a recipient of the REVEAL Indigenous Art Award. In 2016, she was one of sixteen women featured globally by the Nobel Women’s Initiative for her commitment to ending gender-based violence and activism. Her first book, In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Struggle and Resilience, will be released in August 2019. She is current writing an Indigenous female manifesto entitled, Taking Back the Bones, where personal narrative is interwoven with humour, academic research and critical reflection
MENTOR: BILL GASTON
Steyn was born in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and raised in Vancouver. His creative nonfiction has appeared in Existere, The Xanadu Anthology, Unsubscribe Magazine, Gold Literary Magazine, and his essay "Wire to the Sky" was short-listed for EVENT Magazine’s Creative Nonfiction Contest. In 2018, Steyn’s essay “From Clay” was long-listed for the CBC Nonfiction Prize. Expanding on the earlier essay, Wire to the Sky, Steyn’s first book of nonfiction is a genre-bending memoir, told through letters from a brother to his late sister, about race, nationality, and the loss of family.
MENTOR: IAN HAMPTON
Whitehead is an Oji-Cree, Two-Spirit storyteller and academic from Peguis First Nation on Treaty 1 territory in Manitoba. He is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Indigenous literatures and cultures at the University of Calgary. In 2016, his poem “mihkokwaniy” won Canada’s History Award for Aboriginal Arts and Stories (for writers aged 19–29), which included a residency at the Banff Centre. His 2018 novel, Jonny Appleseed, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. His non-fiction book, Making Love with The Land, is a braid of forms that ruminates on topics such as Indigeneity, queerness, mental health, body dysmorphia, and chronic pain through a variety of literary forms, including horror, speculative fiction, poetry, and confession.