Meet the Participants!
The WGA is thrilled to announce the participants for the 2022 Mentorship Program!
In January 2022, sixteen Alberta writers will begin their participation in the WGA’s annual mentorship program. 2022 marks the eleventh year for the program, which pairs emerging writers with established Alberta authors to develop the emerging writer’s literary work, and also to provide support and encouragement. This program has seen many of its participants grow and succeed as published authors.
This year’s participants are:
- Brenda Gunn will work with mentor J. Jill Robinson – (Brenda Gunn is this year’s Mary Bell Scholarship recipient)
- Jessica Coles will work with mentor Jannie Edwards
- Laura Wershler will work with mentor Vivian Hansen
- Lisa Murphy Lamb will work with mentor Merna Summers
- Medgine Mathurin will work with mentor Erina Harris
- Morgan Dick will work with mentor Vern Thiessen
- Sabrina Haslimeier will work with mentor Susie Moloney
- Wonai Masvingise will work with mentor Jacqueline Guest
The mentorship program runs for four months. A virtual celebration of this program, complete with the emerging writers reading from their work, will be held in May.
Congratulations and all good wishes to all the participants!
2022 Mentorship Program Participants
Click the tabs to learn more about this year’s mentorship participants!
Brenda Gunn retired in 2017 after more than 33 years as an elementary and special education teacher and reading specialist with Edmonton Public Schools. Since then, she resumed several passions, including genealogy and creative writing, completing all four main branches of her family tree, connecting her husband with members of his long-lost birth family and self-publishing a collection of her mother’s poetry. Along the way, Brenda acquired a certificate in creative writing with honours from the University of Toronto and completed two full-length poetry collections inspired by her family research, both in various stages of revision. She is a proud member of the WGA, the Edmonton Stroll of Poets and the Parkland Poets’ Society of Stony Plain, Alberta, which provided Brenda the initial opportunity to share and publicize her work. Brenda’s poetry appears in several journals and anthologies, including Human to Human, Polar Expressions, Outlying Voices, and Canadian Stories. Her poem “Interprovincial” earned an Honourable Mention in the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival’s Dr. W.H. Drummond poetry contest. Brenda continues to write poetry and is also currently at work on a collection of short fiction.
Jill Robinson has mentored, taught, edited, and breathed creative writing for many years, and is delighted to be part of the WGA mentorship program again. Her fiction and creative nonfiction work has appeared in many Canadian journals, and she is the author of four collections of short stories and a novel. She holds a BA and MA from the Univ. of Calgary, and an MFA from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. She currently lives on Galiano Island, BC.
Jessica Coles (she/her) is a poet and editor from Edmonton (Treaty 6 territory), where she lives with her family and a judgmental tuxedo cat named Miss Bennet. Her work has appeared in Prairie Fire, Moist Poetry Journal, Crow Name (forthcoming), and You are a Flower Growing off the Side of a Cliff: a chapbook about mental health and resiliency. Her chapbook, unless you’re willing to evaporate, is available through Prairie Vixen Press (https://prairievixenpress.ca).
Jannie Edwards writes from Treaty 6 territory. An Emeritus of MacEwan University, she has published three collections of poetry and has collaborated on many artistic projects and mentorships. Most recently, Jannie has been working with visual artist Sydney Lancaster on Make=Believe, a project centred on a five-acre homestead near the historic Victoria Trail: a dialogue that explores creating art from living trees and ideas, researching the history of the land, and thinking about the intertwined relationships of stewardship and ownership, home, naming and attentiveness.
Laura Wershler’s writing is grounded in her decades of experience in women’s health advocacy. Her work has appeared in various newspapers, journals, online media, and the anthology Without Apology: Writings on Abortion in Canada. With skills acquired while earning a certificate in journalism from Mount Royal University (2011), she co-edited Musings on Perimenopause and Menopause: Identity, Experience, Transition, a collection of scholarly papers, personal narratives, and poetry published in 2021. Also in 2021, her creative nonfiction appeared in the anthologies You Look Good For Your Age and WonderShift, the 40th Anniversary Anthology published by Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society.
Laura attended the founding meeting of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta in October, 1980. It’s taken her decades to answer the question she posed in her journal about the many “old women 60+!” in attendance: Where have they come from?
Vivian Hansen has published poetry, essays and memoir in Canadian journals and anthologies. She has four poetry books: Leylines of My Flesh (2002), Angel Alley (2004) A Bitter Mood of Clouds, and A Tincture of Sunlight (Frontenac 2013 and 2017). Vivian teaches creative writing with the University of Calgary, and Alexandra Writers Centre. She is currently working on a novella memoir: The Book of Ferns and finishing her next poetry collection entitled Crawlspace. She has an essay in You Look Good For Your Age (University of Alberta Press 2021), and poetry forthcoming in The (M)othering Anthology (Inanna Press 2022).
Lisa Murphy Lamb is the director of Loft 112 in Calgary’s East Village, publisher of chapbooks for the reading series ‘Inner City Stories’ and ‘Long Lunch, Quick Reads’ and the magazine New Forum. Her latest book, a novel, Jesus on Dashboard, was published in 2017 by Stonehouse Publishing. Finding time to write a second novel has been a challenge and so Lisa is very much looking forward to being a part of the WGA Mentorship program.
Merna Summers worked on newspapers before taking up fiction. She has had three collections of stories published, and her stories have been reprinted in numerous anthologies. She has been a writer in residence at a number of libraries and educational institutions, including the University of Alberta and the Winnipeg Public Library. She has also been a mentor in the Banff Centre’s writing program.
Haitian-born spoken word artist and patient advocate, MedgineMathurin is a person for whom the love of language and the alchemy of words is second nature. Her multi-lingual upbringing (French, Creole, English) not only prompted her to begin experimenting with the potential and magic of language but naturally compelled her into a deep love of poetry. Over the years, Medgine became a Lupus, CIDP, Polymyositis, and Raynaud’s warrior, all of which fuels her desire to merge storytelling and her power of language into patient advocacy especially for those living with chronic illness. Medgine currently serves as a Patient Advisor with the HQCA’s Patient Family Advisory Committee and working on her first collection of poetry.
Erina Harris is a Canadian author. Her writing, poetics and creative nonfiction, has been published internationally and in translation. She completed an MFA in Poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Calgary. Her first book, The Stag Head Spoke, was shortlisted for the Canadian Authors’ Association Poetry Award. Her second manuscript, Persephone’s Abecedarium, is being edited for publication.She is currently the Curator for The Foster Words Project in Edmonton; please visit www.erinaharris.com for your invitation to contribute to this social poetics project.
Morgan Dick is a writer from Calgary. She was shortlisted for Room Magazine’s 2021 Fiction Contest and selected as an honourable mention in the 2021 Alberta Views Short Story Contest. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Globe and Mail and CBC News. When not writing, she likes to run, hike, and dote upon a grumpy sheepdog. You can find her on Twitter (@jmdwrites).
Vern Thiessen is one of Canada’s most produced playwrights. His plays have been seen across Canada, the UK, United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia and been translated in five languages. His works include Of Human Bondage, Vimy, Einstein’s Gift (GG winner), Lenin’s Embalmers (GG finalist), Apple, and Shakespeare’s Will. He has been produced off-Broadway five times. Vern is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Dora and Sterling awards for Outstanding New Play, The Carol Bolt Award, the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award, the City of Edmonton Arts Achievement Award, the University of Alberta Alumni Award of Excellence, and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, Canada’s highest honour for a playwright. He was also a finalist for the Siminovich Prize in Playwriting. Vern received his B.A. from the University of Winnipeg and an M.F.A. from the University of Alberta. He has served as president of both the Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Writers Guild of Alberta. For six years he served as Artistic Director of Workshop West Playwrights Theatre, one of Canada’s leading new play companies. He is married to acclaimed screenwriter and novelist Susie Moloney. They currently live in Edmonton, Canada, where he teaches at both Macewan and Concordia Universities.
Sabrina Hayle is an English tutor, translator, and recent repatriate from Switzerland, where she led The Swiss Wrimos and OtherWorlds writer’s groups. Her dedication to the local writing community continues as she reprises her leadership role, as one of three awesome municipal liaisons for the Edmonton NaNoWriMo region. She brings a gamified approach to engage participants, while aiming to foster growth and inclusivity within the local writing community.
When she’s not busy off-roading through the great outdoors, mountain biking or reading by the river, you can find her sitting on a rocky mountain summit somewhere, with her head in the clouds.
She is currently working on an urban fantasy trilogy.
Susie Moloney is the award-winning screenwriter and author of several novels, Bastion Falls, the world bestselling A Dry Spell, The Dwelling, The Thirteen, and a collection, Things Withered: stories. In 2015, Moloney made the switch from novels to film and television. A couple of forays into television and two short films later, her first full-length feature film, Bright Hill Road, premiered in theatres in 2020, and a feature length production of Romi is shooting 2022. Moloney was the 2020 Writer-in-Residence for the Edmonton Public Library and she continues to provide mentorship and guidance to writers in all genres. Bright Hill Road is currently available on all platforms, on Demand. Susie is a dog AND cat person, so no stranger to controversy.
Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as Susie Moloney.
Wonai Masvingise is a Zimbabwean-Canadian writer that lives in Calgary. She is a trained journalist who worked as a news reporter for various print newspapers before she migrated to Canada. For her day job, Wonai assists Albertans who need help with finding meaningful employment through career coaching. She writes fiction and is hoping to finish an African inspired fantasy novel later this year.
Jacqueline Guest is an international award-winning author with thirty professionally published novels, short stories and levelled reading books. She has presented across Canada, the United States and in Africa to audiences of all ages including the American Library Association, the American Indian Library Association, University of Calgary, Manitoba Association of Teachers of English, Alberta Association of Library Technicians, MASC Conference Ottawa, University of Victoria, Cultural Diversity Institute, North Central Teachers Association, Saskatoon Reading Council Teachers Conference, the Edmonton Young Offenders Centre, plus hundreds of schools, libraries and conferences.
In addition to her in-depth knowledge on writing novels, Jacqueline has over twenty-five years of experience presenting in classrooms, libraries and at conferences. She has been the Creator-in-Residence for CANSCAIP, plus Writer in Residence for the Marigold Library System, the International Spanish Academy, St. Clare School, St Rose of Lima School, and Glenmeadows Spanish School in Calgary. She has mentored many writers offering advice and direction in their chosen career. Her novels have been nominated for or won numerous awards in Canada and the United States, including the AILA Middle School Award, Moonbeam Award, Red Maple, Silver Birch, Red Cedar, Golden Eagle, CCBC Our Choice, and more. Her curriculum-based school presentations, which tie in with her novels, have even reluctant students reading.
Jacqueline has volunteered in Tanzania and Ghana where she taught eager adults how to create stories for their own young readers to enjoy.
Jacqueline is the proud recipient of the Indspire Award for the Arts.
In 2017, Jacqueline was awarded the Order of Canada for her work in the literary arts.