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2023 WordsWorth Instructors & Courses

Registration is now closed
(After June 26th, RDP room availability cannot be guaranteed.)

Week 1 (ages 11 – 14): July 9th – 14th, 2023 | $610  
Week 2 (ages 15 – 19): July 16th – 21st, 2023 | $610 

Location: Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP), Red Deer, AB

T-shirt: $25
Anthology: $12

WordsWorth is a week-long sleepover creative writing residency for young writers who believe in the power of words. Writers will be completely immersed in the creative and diverse world of writing. Guided by established and respected artist-instructors, writers will experience writing through fiction, nonfiction, poetry, spoken word, music, and more. But the experiences don’t begin and end with the classes; WordsWorth is a place where young writers come together to celebrate writing through friendship, campfires, concerts, open mic sessions, hikes, haiku, and semi-competitive games outside of class.

WordsWorth 2023 Instructors & Courses

Click the tabs to meet this year’s WordsWorth instructors!

More instructor info coming soon!




Imagination in Motion (Week 1)

Imagination in Motion is designed to connect the mind and body to offer new pathways of impulse, thought, and possibility! Participants will explore a dynamic combination of text, physical, and visual exercises that build upon each other before pen hits paper. This embodied training shakes up the body and the writing practice to offer insights on different angles of creativity.


KUNJI IKEDA (he/they) plays with physical communication to grow physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing within his community. His fearless political work explores our communities most pressing political ideas and has earned multiple Betty Mitchell award nominations for performance and choreography. Ikeda has trained intensively with One Yellow Rabbit and has offered his diverse dramaturgical lens to dance, theatre, choir, and musical ensembles across Canada. Through the Paris based L’AiR Arts, Ikeda became a member of an ongoing international cohort of interdisciplinary artists with the intention of empowering artists as vectors of cross-cultural dialogue to fuel the evolution of culture, politics, and society.

Ikeda was awarded the Enbridge Emerging Artist Award by the Calgary Arts Development Authority in 2015, as well as named an Artist in Residence at the Banff Centre 2019, to generate his massive dance theatre adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. In February 2020 Ikeda was invited into the rehearsal process of Akram Khan’s work Creature with the English National Ballet. In the summer of 2020 their clown-dance work Know the Rules, Win the Game was one of five Canadian works curated to present at the Canadian Dance Showcase at the world renown TanzMesse in Dusseldorf Germany. Their award-winning solo performance Sansei: The Storyteller continues to be presented internationally. They were honoured to serve as Programming Director of the National Association of Japanese Canadians first national arts summit for the fall of 2022, and was also named One Yellow Rabbits Arts Leadership Associate.

Writing Wrongs (Week 1)

How do we craft stories that are both beautiful and “important”? How can we be both artists and activists? How can our personal stories serve the public good? And what makes you mad? In this nonfiction workshop, we will explore the human rights and social justice issues that stir our passions and respond to them on the page.


MARCELLO DI CINTIO is the author of five books of documentary literature including Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Palestine in the Present Tense and, most recently, Driven: The Secret Lives of Taxi Drivers. Marcello also writes for magazines such as The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, The International New York Times, and Afar. He is a former writer-in-residence with the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program and the Palestine Writing Workshop, and a featured instructor at the Iceland Writers Retreat.


Collaborative Writing (Week 1 & 2)

Why write alone when you can write with friends? Ideas come fast and furious when working as a team, and if things go a bit “off the rails” well… that’s fun too. In this class, you will team up and create all manner of projects – from a co-written micro-fiction novel to plays, podcasts, poetry, experimental film, and whatever else tickles our fancy. The sky’s the limit and we can do it all – but only if we work together!


KIM FIRMSTON is a real-life mutant and cyborg – though one without any cool powers. When she is not cursing obvious villain mistakes, she writes teen novels about punk rock, cosplay, and computer hacking (among other things), stage plays – some of which have been produced as far away as Egypt and the Philippines, and dabbles in poetry, stop motion animation, and film making. Kim has six published novels, created three sweet websites, and one super awesome writing club called Reality Is Optional, as well as being the Youth Program Director for the Alexandra Writers’ Centre in Calgary. Kim encourages play and hands-on learning in all her classes and is known for building diabolical devices out of cardboard and old chip bags with prominent DO NOT PUSH buttons.

Course description coming soon!


JOHNNY MacRAE is a mouthy poet living on the unceded ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-waututh), and sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) nations. Both a regional and national slam champion, MacRae has toured widely since 2010, giving over 200 performances at slams, readings, and festivals of poetry, music, and theatre across Canada. Additionally, he has given over 300 workshops for youth and adults across British Columbia and Canada. In 2013, he was named Poet of Honour for the Victoria Spoken Word Festival, and in 2017, received the Zaccheus Jackson Nyce Memorial Award.

Derek Ford Photographer- commercial

Stories that Move: Animation and Storyboarding (Week 1 & 2)
The processes behind animation can sometimes seem esoteric and unknowable, but all animation starts with a story and a handful of fundamental principles (12 of them, in fact). In this class, we’ll learn how to make our drawings move and how to use that movement to enhance a narrative. Creative and technical exercises will help build your animator’s tool kit while we explore pre-production aspects of animation like storyboarding and character design. This class is for anyone who has ever watched a cartoon or animated film and thought “how’d they do that?”

MARIN PERLETTE’s art practice is multifaceted and a little dubious at times, but when pressed for an answer to the question “what do you do?”, they usually manage to boil it down to “I make cartoons.” Marin has done freelance work as a graphic designer and illustrator, but their heart truly lies in animation and storyboarding where they can spin tales using all three of their favourite activities: drawing, writing, and making music. When they’re not developing personal projects, Marin can be found slinging coffee, embroidering, or baking for their friends.

The Writer’s Voice (Week 2)

So you’ve written some words. Now you have to Speak Them Out Loud… YIKES! Or maybe you would like to dabble in acting? Or maybe you are interested in Spoken Word, but a tad trepidatious? Or maybe you just want to feel more confident around humans… If so, this is the adventure for you! This fun and empowering class is about discovering your expressive voice. Our goal is open, honest, powerful, joyful communication. Please wear comfortable, loose, stretchy clothing and have water, pencil and paper handy. Woo-HOO!


DAVID WILSON (BMus, Mmus) is a Singer, Conductor, Voice Teacher, Senior Yoga Instructor/Teacher Trainer and Breath Therapist. He is recognized across Canada as a leading authority on the use of Yoga, Functional Vocal Work and Breath Therapy to aid healthy vocal production. He offers workshops to singers, public speakers, teachers and actors on vocal power, creative freedom, anxiety/asthma relief, embodied movement and public speaking. He has self-published six Book/Video sets, including “The Embodied Voice”. David is an inspiring Sessional Instructor for the Theatre Arts BFA program at MacEwan University. 

Course description coming soon!


SHIMA AISHA ROBINSON works for the Edmonton Poetry Festival as the Artistic Producer and Fringe Theatre Adventures as the Learning and Outreach Manager. She recently worked at APIRG on the University of Alberta campus as the Programming and Working Group Coordinator. She is a University of Alberta Master of Arts in Community Engagement (MACE) candidate who advances her enthusiasm for anti-oppression and social justice work volunteering, interning and working with local groups that address systemic issues of oppression and marginalisation in amiskwaciy-wâskahikan (aka Edmonton). Shima is an amiskwaciy-wâskahikan (aka Edmonton) born poet and spoken word artist who embodies, with every literary and scholarly effort, the ancient meaning of her chosen pen name. Dwennimmen is the name of an ancient African Adinkra symbol, which means strength, humility, learning and wisdom. It is no surprise, then, that this veteran of the Alberta poetry community uses a searing intellect and dynamic precision-of-language to create poetry which ushers her readers and listeners toward greater understanding and poignant reflection. For Dwennimmen, poetry has long been a compass, a salve, an anchor and guiding light. She uses the potential and force of poetry to uncover the full range of her cerebral, linguistic and spiritual fortitude. This is why her every poem and performance testifies to an emerging power and wisdom, an authentic, deeply human potency which she hopes to pass on to listeners and poetry-lovers around the world.

2023 Creative Team

Click the tabs to meet this year’s Creative Team! 

COLIN MATTY (Camp Director) has been with the Writer’s Guild of Alberta since 2012, becoming the Director of Drink the Wild Air and WordsWorth in 2015. He is the author of three plays, two sketch comedies, and thousands of poems. Colin has tread the boards of festivals and competitions from Victoria to Montreal and is an accomplished creator, performer and educator in the fields of theatre, poetry, and improvisation. His work has a strong focus on playful discovery and aims to foster the joy that comes with engaging the creative powers that lie latent within us all.

SADIE MACGILLVRAY was born and raised in Iron River, AB. They love being outside and soaking in all of the sounds and sights that nature has to offer and uses that time to come up with new project ideas as well to sneakily photograph everything that catches their eye. Sadie also enjoys taking time out of their day to learn interesting facts, watch anime, play as many Legend of Zelda games they can get their hands on, as well as sit down and work on the multitude of projects (resin art, cross stitch, knitting, painting, screenplays, poetry, sewing, etc.) they have scattered around their house. Sadie has a Professional Communications degree from MacEwan University, and is a few steps closer to becoming a book editor. Although, going back to school for a teaching degree in English or drama is definitely on the table.

Sadie has decided that even though there technically isn’t enough time in each day to do everything they want to do, they are going to try to fit it all in anyway! Stay awesome and weird <3

JESS TOLLESTRUP is an artist, activist, and teacher living on Blackfoot territory in Treaty 7. As a musician and poet they have toured nationally, releasing their EP The Pluto Year and chapbook Metafesto in 2017. Jess has gigged with bands of all genres and currently play keys for the local shoe gaze group Bunny Eyes.

Jess is now in the fourth year of their undergraduate. They are passionate about the study and practice of community building through transformative justice, mutual aid, and other forms of emergent strategy.

Headshot by Cecilia Reid

KAJA PEDERSEN grew up in Calgary, Alberta, on the traditional lands of the peoples of Treaty 7, which include the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Tsuut’ina First Nation, the Stoney Nakoda, and the Region 3 Métis Nation. She is currently in the middle of a Creative Writing degree at the University of Victoria and enjoys writing fiction and creative non-fiction. She also loves all things history, particularly women’s histories, queer histories, and histories of social justice. Also pirates. When she isn’t writing and studying, Kaja loves reading, crocheting, hiking, playing sports, vintage clothes, podcasts, adventures, and making new friends. You can often find Kaja wandering through nearby mountains or hosting tea parties for local fairies.

Come say hello this summer, she can’t wait to hear your stories!

Despite what this photo may lead you to believe, GAB DUBBELDAM is not Tintin. Tintin is from Belgium; Gab is from Edmonton. Tintin is an investigative journalist; Gab is an actor and writer. Tintin travels the world in various disguises to solve crimes; Gab travels Canada in totally normal clothing to film a children’s television program. Sure, they both speak French, but is that really so special in today’s political climate? Gab doesn’t even have a little white dog, nor is he personally acquainted with any sailors. He’s a poseur who is thrilled to join the WordsWorth creative team this summer.

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