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WGA 2021 Mentorship Program Participants Announced

In January 2021, twelve Alberta writers will begin their participation in the WGA’s annual mentorship program. 2021 marks the tenth 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:

  • Josephine Boxwell will be working with mentor Kate A. Boorman on fantasy fiction
  • Bret Crowle will be working with mentor Peter Midgley on short noir fiction
  • Berend McKenzie will be working with mentor Julie Sedivy on nonfiction memoir
  • Barbara Parker will be working with mentor Sheri-D Wilson on poetry
  • Sharmila Pokharel will be working with mentor Marcello Di Cintio on nonfiction
  • Lauren Seal with work with mentor Rayanne Haines on a YA novel in verse

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!

2021 Mentorship Program Participants

[tabs style=”vertical”][tab title=”Participants”]

Click the tabs to learn more about this year’s mentorship participants!

[/tab][tab title=”Josephine Boxwell & Kate A. Boorman”]

Josephine Boxwell is a writer and digital marketing specialist. Her first novel, Unravelling (Guernica Editions) was released in October 2020. Her short fiction and creative nonfiction work has appeared in several publications including the anthologies, Swelling with Pride: Queer Conception & Adoption Stories (Dagger Editions) and Wherever I Find Myself: Stories by Canadian Immigrant Women (Caitlin Press). Originally from the UK, she has lived in Toronto and the BC Interior, and now calls the Edmonton area home.

Kate A Boorman is a freelance writer and award-winning author from Edmonton, with roots in the small town of Rimbey, Alberta. Her most recent novel, What We Buried (Macmillan), was named a Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books 2019, and appeared on Best Of lists in a variety of publications from Cosmopolitan to O: The Oprah Magazine. Her debut novel, Winterkill (Abrams), was the winner of the R. Ross Annett award for Children’s Literature and a finalist in the Alberta Readers’ Choice awards. Kate has participated as a guest and presenter at various festivals and conferences in Western Canada and is currently working on her sixth novel for publication.

[/tab][tab title=”Bret Crowle & Peter Midgley”]

Bret Crowle is a fifth-year university student attending Mount Royal University. She writes poetry, prose, and short fiction pieces, with intention of releasing a collection later this year. You can find her jotting down fractions of stories in her notebook at nearly any coffeeshop in Calgary.

Photo by Shawna Lemay

Thirty years working as a festival director, freelance editor, university lecturer, managing editor, acquisitions editor, clerk of court, bartender, janitor and door-to-door salesman (and some other unmentionable jobs), has given Peter Midgley enough material for twelve books for children and adults. He also edits and translates. He wrote his first book when he was twelve. It was awful, and he hopes his writing has improved since then. His latest book is a collection of poetry, let us not think of them as barbarians (NeWest Press), which was shortlisted for the Stephan G. Stephansson Award. You can reach him via his website,

[/tab][tab title=”Berend McKenzie & Julie Sedivy”]

Berend McKenzie is an award-winning Edmonton based playwright, actor and activist. Berend’s short story credits include, Tassels (Brindle and Glass), Jones’n, Fashion Police, Meet the Munts, Blood Bathe at St. Paul’s. 

Berend’s full length plays include the award winning Get Off the Cross, Mary (2006) and the Jessie Richardson nominated NGGRFG (2009-2014-Signature Editions) Chasing Tic. 

Berend’s short story “Hockey Night in Canada” will be published in the AIDS anthology– Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing up with the AIDS Crisis published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2021.

Some of Berend’s film and acting credits include Catwoman (Halle Berry), Life or Something Like It (Angelina Jolie), Poor Superman (Brad Fraser), The Tempest (Tim Ryan), Beyond Therapy (Trevor Roberts), NGGRFG (Denis Simpson).

Julie Sedivy is a writer of nonfiction as well as an editor and a language scientist. Her writing crosses and recombines genres, often taking linguistic exploration as a starting point for personal and poetic rumination. Her work has appeared in publications such as Nautilus, Discover, Politico, and the Literary Review of Canada, in addition to various anthologies, and she is the winner of the 2020 Jon Whyte award for short nonfiction. She co-edited Waiting: An Anthology of Essays (University of Alberta Press) in collaboration with Rona Altrows. Her new book, titled Memory Speaks: On Losing and Reclaiming Language and Self, will be released by Harvard University Press in 2021, and she is currently writing a series of lyric essays to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. A citizen of three countries, she now lives on the heart-achingly beautiful lands of Treaty 7.

[/tab][tab title=”Barbara Parker & Sheri-D Wilson”]

Barbara Parker lives and writes in Canmore, Alberta, and works at Threshold Ceremonies as a Life-Cycle Celebrant, which allows her to write her heart out. Her poetry and prose have been published in Room, Freefall, Toward the Light and spring. She is a Banff Centre Wired Writing Alumni, currently working on a poetry project.

Sheri-D Wilson, aka Mama of Dada, is the award-winning author and creator of 13 books, 4 short films, and 4 albums which combine music and poetry. Known as the High Priestess of Spoken Word in Canada, she is an international artist known for her electric performance-style, making her a favorite of festivals around the world. 

In her poems, Wilson uses personal narrative to address themes of personal story, social justice, lost languages, bullying, violence against women and the earth. Her tenth collection of poetry, Open Letter: Woman against Violence against Women; was short-listed for the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award & CanLit. 

In 2019 Sheri-D was appointed one of the country’s highest honours, The Order of Canada, for her contributions as a Spoken Word Poet and her leadership in the community. In 2017, she received her Doctor of Letters—Honoris Causa from Kwantlen University. 

Other Honours: 2015 City of Calgary Arts Award * 2013 CBC Top 10 Poets in Canada * 2009 Ted Talk * 2006 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry * 2005 SpoCan Poet of Honour * People’s Choice * 2006 Woman of Vision * 5 Rosies * 2003 USA Heavyweight Title * Her 1991 jazz-play, Confessions, received 5 Vancouver Jessie Nominations * Ace Award. 

Her work has received national and international acclaim with such honours as a 2013 feature interview with Canadian icon Shelagh Rogers, a 2012 article in Chatelaine Magazine, a 2012 TED Talk, and the subject of a half-hour documentary called Heart of a Poet. In 2009 she was named one of the top ten poets in Canada by CBC.

Sheri-D is a Marriage Celebrant and Ceremonialist.

A strong advocate for social change & community building, Wilson was the Founder/Artistic Director of: 

  • Calgary Spoken Word Society (2003-2020)
  • Spoken Word Program | The Banff Centre (2005-2012)

[/tab][tab title=”Sharmila Pokharel & Marcello Di Cintio”]

Sharmila Pokharel is an Edmonton-based poet, born and raised in Nepal. Her bilingual poetry collection: My Country Foreign Land was published in 2014 (Co-translator: Alice Major). She has received the 2012 Cultural Diversity in the Arts Award from the Edmonton Arts Council. She was a member of the first Borderlines Writers Circle, 2012 from WGA and the Edmonton Public Library.  

She holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, a masters degree in sociology from Tribhuvan University Nepal, and diploma in design and drafting from NAIT. 

She is a co-author of Somnio; The Way We See It, a poetry and art book project, published in 2015. This book has received the 2014 Cultural Diversity in the Arts Project grant. She is currently working on her memoir A Village of Happy Faces.

Photo by Monique de St-Croix

Marcello Di Cintio is the author of four books, including Walls: Travels Along the Barricades and Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Palestine in the Present Tense, both winners of the W. O. Mitchell City of Calgary Book Prize. Di Cintio’s magazine writing has appeared in publications such as The International New York TimesThe WalrusCanadian Geographic and Afar. Di Cintio’s next book, Driven: The Secret Lives of Taxi Drivers will appear in May 2021.

[/tab][tab title=”Lauren Seal & Rayanne Haines”]

Lauren Seal is a writer, spoken word poet, and librarian. When not busy with her day job, researching medical maladies, she is either reading, writing, or reciting poetry. She mentors the teen and young adult poets of SWYC, the Spoken Word Youth Choir, while also organizing and performing in the adult incarnation of the group. Lauren lives in Edmonton with her partner and one exceptionally spoiled dog.

Photo by Katie Cutting

Rayanne Haines is a multi-genre writer of five traditionally published books, a performer and producer. Haines’s writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from, Fiddlehead, Impact: The Lives of Women After Concussion Anthology, Voicing Suicide Anthology, Freefall, Funicular, Lida Lit Mag, and Indefinite Space among others. She is the Alberta NWT rep for the League of Canadian Poets and an Edmonton Artist Trust Fund Award recipient. Past Executive Director of the Edmonton Poetry Festival, Rayanne is a current Masters student focusing on Arts Management and Cultural Policy Research at Queen Margaret University in Scotland. Her debut Novel in Verse, Stained with the Colours of Sunday Morning (Inanna 2018), was a finalist for the 2019 Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta Award. Her essay, This is Normal was a 2020 finalist for the Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Alberta Literary Award. Her short fiction piece, CutLines, won the 2019 WGA Global Health Writing Award. Tell the Birds your Body is Not a Gun (her second poetry collection) is forthcoming in 2021 with Frontenac House.


Thank you to our donors and funders!

We acknowledge the generous financial support of donors to this program:

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