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Borderlines Series: Storytelling in Times of Turmoil

Storytelling in Times of Turmoil presented by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. Aboriginal writers, Naomi McIlwraith and Anna Marie Sewell, and Borderlines Writers Circle members, Marina Ivanova, Susana Chalut and Fahim Hassan, discuss truth and reconciliation, civil war, personal identity, and the risks of being a writer. Produced by Dan Ivanov and Julie Robinson. November 16, 2015.

Naomi McIlwraith hails from Edmonton, Alberta. The author of a collection of poems titled kiyâm (Athabasca University Press, 2012), book reviews with the American Indian Culture Research Journal, several essays, including “Why is Squaw Such a Bad Word?” (NeWest Press, 2005) and “Sleep Little One, Sleep” (Demeter Press, 2014), and co-author of The Beginning of Print Culture in Athabasca Country: A Facsimile Edition and Translation of a Prayer Book in Cree Syllabics by Father Émile Grouard, OMI. (University of Alberta Press, 2010), Naomi appreciates her many friends in Edmonton’s poetry and literary community. As well, Naomi loves to canoe, cycle, walk, talk, think and dream. You can find her deep in conversation, deep in thought, or knee deep in a canoe, hopefully an upright canoe either on the Great North Saskatchewan River, Islet Lake, Astotin Lake, Wabamun Lake, or Maligne Lake. She is hard at work on a new writing project and invites you to ask her about it. Naomi’s claim to fame includes sharing a birthday with Dr. Seuss!

Anna Marie Sewell served as Edmonton’s Poet Laureate from 2011-2013. Among her major Laureate projects, she created The PoemCatcher, at City Hall—a collection of over 1000 pages of poetry, stories, prayers and pictures. The project is archived and lives on at She facilitated a Writers Circle for adult literacy learners for nearly 6 years at The Learning Centre Literacy Association. The group presented at the University of Alberta, LitFest, provincial literacy conferences, and schools. In 2014, Anna Marie directed and led a Roots Jam of original songs and poems with six local artists and special guest, internationally acclaimed Muskogee poet, scholar, and activist Joy Harjo. Her book Fifth World Drum (Frontenac House, 2009), was shortlisted for four awards and won rave reviews across Canada. She is at work on a new collection of poems, as well as a book of essays/memoir examining 30 years since the Metis re-awakening. Her blog is

Fahim Hassan is passionate about using digital technology to explore social and cultural history in depth. He blogs about social innovation and human-computer interaction, sharing his ideas on using computational methods to understand and solve social problems. He was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where he spent his schoolboy days learning all the non-essential life skills. He came to Canada for higher studies, received his Master’s degree in economics from the University of Alberta and started working on multiple projects to document the cultural history of local communities in Edmonton. You can connect with him through his website at

Susana Chalut, originally from Chile, arrived in Canada on December 24, 1999. Her book of poetry, Lights and Shades, was published by the provincial government in Valparaiso (Cultural Department, 1999.) She also achieved third place for The Andes City poetry contest, 1999. Since coming to Canada she has married, raised two children and collected many ideas for future poems.

Originally from Russia, Marina Ivanova holds a law degree from Russia and Master of Laws from the University of Alberta, and is currently working at Alberta Justice, Crown Prosecution Service. Writing is her passion, and speculative fiction, her favorite genre. She has over 100 short story publications in different literary magazines and anthologies in Russia. She has just recently started exploring script-writing; her very first feature film script “The Lottery of Life” became the winner of 2015 Alberta Screenwriters Initiative.

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