2018 CNFC Conference Program

2018 Writing True

CONFERENCE EVENTS

Friday, May 4

Registration begins – 9:00 onwards

Emmanuel College Foyer, West Entrance

 

10:00 AM – 1:00 PM     Master Class

The Invisible Magnetic River

Dinty W. Moore
In this interactive craft session, we will explore the deeper currents that bind each word, each sentence, each image of our creative nonfiction into a coherent, resonant whole. Come prepared to do in-class writing.

A National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipient, Dinty W. Moore has guest-taught creative nonfiction seminars across the United States and in Europe. In addition to editing the acclaimed internet journal, Brevity, he is on the editorial board of Creative Nonfiction magazine. A noted essayist and humourist, he has also written numerous books on craft. He teaches writing at Ohio University.

Fee: $25 CNFC Members, $40 Non-Members

 

10:00 AM – 1:00 PM     Master Class

Navigating Rivers of Connection:
Writing Family and Ancestral Stories Across Cultural Differences

Lorri Neilsen Glenn

How do we write across cultures, context, time and geography? Whose stories are ours to tell? How do we respond as writers to stories that arise from different cultural and political contexts, especially when we are connected to those at the center of the stories? This workshop will provide examples of creative nonfiction writing that navigates connections and open a discussion among participants of our roles and responsibilities as writers.

Lorri Neilsen Glenn is the author of Following the River: Traces of Red River Women. As she discovered the stories of her Cree, Ininiwak and Métis grandmothers and their contemporaries, she encountered difficult questions of erasure, sexism, racism, appropriation and representation. Lorri has written and edited several books of creative nonfiction, poetry and scholarly work. Former Halifax Poet Laureate, she teaches in the MFA program in creative nonfiction at University of King’s College.

Fee: $25 CNFC Members, $40 Non-Members

 

2:00 PM – 5:00 PM     Master Class

Finding Form in Creative Nonfiction

Betsy Warland

Each piece of creative nonfiction embodies an idiosyncratic state of consciousness, and the form of every CNF piece must signal or convey that state of consciousness to readers, whether the piece is one page long or three hundred. In this class, I will offer insights about this crucial aspect of our craft and suggest techniques for addressing it. A variety of successful examples will be distributed and discussed. Bring two pages from a piece of writing you’re uncertain about to explore form options that may be a better fit.

Betsy Warland has published 12 books of poetry, creative nonfiction and lyric prose including her best-selling 2010 book of personal essays, Breathing the Page— Reading the Act of Writing. In April of 2016, Oscar of Between—A Memoir of Identity and Ideas was launched by Caitlin Press’ new imprint, Dagger Editions. Reviews have called it “an achievement,” “truly luminous,” and a “tour de force.”

Fee: $25 CNFC Members, $40 Non-Members

 

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM     Panel

Publishers, Editors and Agents: Now What?

Barbara Berson, Patrick Crean, Nita Pronovost
Moderator: Hal Wake

You have a finished manuscript—but now what? Meet a trio of experienced editors and agents and publishers of non-fiction, find out what they’re looking for, and what it takes to get it published in today’s exciting world of creative nonfiction.

Former Senior Editor at Penguin Books, where she acquired and edited numerous best-selling and critically acclaimed works of fiction and creative nonfiction, Barbara Berson is now an agent with the Helen Heller group.

Patrick Crean is the publisher and editor of his eponymous imprint at Harper Collins. He focuses on new and established voices in Canadian fiction, along with memoir, history, current events, and essential books about new ways of being in a world in transition.

As Editorial Director at Simon and Schuster Canada, Nita Pronovost has worked with scores of authors to make their manuscripts shine, including CNFC member Glenn Dixon and former guest presenter, Camilla Gibb.

Hal Wake has been engaged with the literary community in Canada for more than 30 years. In the mid 1980s he was the book producer for CBC Radio’s Morningside with Peter Gzowski. He has hosted or moderated hundreds of literary events at writers’ festivals around the world. He was Artistic Director of the Vancouver Writers Fest for twelve years.

 

3:45 PM – 5:30 PM     Interactive Session

First Page

Barbara Berson, Patrick Crean, Nita Pronovost
Moderator: Hal Wake

Anonymously submit the first page of your book and get instant feedback from our panel. The audience will be able to read along as our panel analyzes your first page. (Details on sign up will be provided shortly; limited number of spots available but everyone can observe the conversation.)

Please see above for presenter bios.

 

5:30 PM – 6:45 PM     Light Meal and Cash Bar

 

7:00 PM     Keynote Address with Kamal Al-Solaylee.

Kamal Al-Solaylee‘s best-selling memoir, Intolerable, was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize, the Trillium Book Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and Canada Reads, and won the Toronto Book Award. His second book, Brown, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction and the recipient of the 2017 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. He is an associate professor at the School of Journalism at Ryerson University.

 

9:00 PM – 11 PM    Reception, Cash Bar

 

Saturday, May 5

All Day: Member book table.

Registration (time to be announced)

 

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM     Discussion

In Conversation

Lee Maracle and Tanya Talaga

Join acclaimed Indigenous writers Lee Maracle and Tanya Talaga for a rich, intimate, and vitally important conversation about their recent writing, the challenges facing Canadians today, and what we, as authors of creative nonfiction can do to lay the foundations for a richer, more honest, and more equitable literary community.

Lee Maracle is a celebrated author, poet, educator, storyteller, and performing artist. She is one of the country’s most prolific First Nations’ writers. Her most recent book of essays, My Conversations with Canadians, presents a tour de force exploration into her personal history and a re-imagining of the future of our nation.

Tanya Talaga is an award-winning investigative journalist for the Toronto Star and the author of Seven Fallen Feathers. A finalist for the 2017 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, her book tells the stories of seven Indigenous high school students who died in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and the systemic roots of their tragic deaths.

 

CONCURRENT SESSIONS

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM     Workshop

The Art of Vivid Description

Dinty W. Moore

Scientific discoveries about how the brain processes words, especially descriptive words, give fresh meaning to the old saying “show don’t tell.” This session will explore the difference between static descriptions that merely label and active descriptions that stimulate the reader’s mirror neurons. Bring pen and paper.

A National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipient, Dinty W. Moore has guest-taught creative nonfiction seminars across the United States and in Europe. In addition to editing the acclaimed internet journal, Brevity, he is on the editorial board of Creative Nonfiction magazine. A noted essayist and humourist, he has also written numerous books on craft. He teaches writing at Ohio University.

 

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM     Panel

Writing in the Third Person: The Dance Between the Voice of the Author and the Voices of the Subjects

Carol Off, Mark Sakamoto, Tanya Talaga

When we write about others it’s easy to make them into the people we want them to be rather than the people they understand themselves to be. How do we honour and bring to life the voices of those about whom we are writing, while contributing our own voice and perspective? Join three critically-acclaimed authors who have grappled with these questions in a variety of situations for a probing exploration and some illuminating suggestions.

Carol Off’s passion for storytelling fills the airwaves every weekday on CBC Radio’s As It Happens. She is also the author of several critically-acclaimed books, most recently, All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others. A gripping story about a family’s struggle to escape Taliban oppression and the persecutions of refugee life, All We Leave Behind is this year’s winner of the BC Award for Canadian Nonfiction.

Mark Sakamoto’s astonishing family memoir, Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents relates how a small-town Canadian boy turned prisoner-of-war in Japan and a Japanese-Canadian woman banished during wartime from her west coast home eventually opened themselves to mutual healing and connection. A CBC Canada Reads selection and winner of the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction, Forgiveness is an unforgettable book.

Tanya Talaga has been a journalist at the Toronto Star for twenty years and is the 2017–2018 Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy. In the meticulously reported and compassionately told Seven Fallen Feathers — a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the BC Award for Canadian Nonfiction—she investigates the deaths of seven Indigenous teens in Thunder Bay in a heartrending story that puts a human face on the headline statistics while offering a passionate argument for change.

 

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM     Workshop

Taking the Essay from Idea to Fruition

Mandy Len Catron

The essay as genre is thriving, and interest in publishing essay collections is growing. But how do you go from an idea to an essay collection? This workshop will model some of the grittier details of creating a cohesive manuscript. Together we’ll look at recent collections and consider what makes them work, we’ll discuss—and practice—combining personal experience with research and reflection, and we’ll try some writing prompts designed to elicit the kinds of complex questions that can anchor a book-length collection. Participants can expect to leave the workshop with a more in-depth understanding of how to develop, structure, and even pitch a collection of essays.

Mandy Len Catron’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Rumpus, and The Walrus, as well as literary journals and anthologies. Her article “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This” was one of the most popular articles published by the New York Times in 2015. How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays is her first book. Mandy teaches English and creative writing at the University of British Columbia.

 

12:00 PM – 1:30 PM Lunch

 

CONCURRENT SESSIONS

1:30 PM – 3:00 PM Panel

The Art and Craft of Humour: Finding the Light Voice

Dinty W. Moore, Elizabeth Renzetti, Evany Rosen

You know what they say about laughter—it’s the best medicine. That’s because it binds us together and helps us to recognize all we share. Yet humour is also one of our sharpest tools for social critique, giving us licence to puncture the pretensions of the powerful. It takes skill to find what’s funny in a dark or difficult or overly familiar subject and to win readers to your point of view. Join renowned Canadians, Elizabeth Renzetti and Evany Rosen, as they talk with acclaimed American writer, Dinty W. Moore, and share some of their secrets for crafting a light voice.

A National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipient, Dinty W.  Moore has guest-taught creative nonfiction seminars across the United States and in Europe. In addition to editing the acclaimed internet journal, Brevity, he is on the editorial board of Creative Nonfiction magazine. A noted essayist and humourist, he has also written numerous books on craft. He teaches writing at Ohio University.

Elizabeth Renzetti is a national columnist for The Globe and Mail. Her best-selling 2015 novel, Based on a True Story, won widespread praise as “a seriously funny book.” Her latest is a work of nonfiction that draws on her decades of reporting on feminist issues. Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls is a collection of pointed essays about feminism at a crossroads.

From writing for the Baroness von Sketch Show to her voiceover work in animated series like Disney’s Hotel Transylvania, Evany Rosen knows how to make people laugh. Her first book, What I Think Happened: An Underresearched History of the Western World, is a witty collection of essays that retell historical events from a feminist point of view.

 

1:30 PM – 3:00 PM     Conversation

Fiction to Nonfiction: Metaphors for Life

Naben Ruthnum and Emily Keeler

Creative nonfiction may be our first love, but many of us also write fiction. Why choose one genre instead of the other? And what is common between the two? For many writers, what links them is metaphor—a unifying force that gives shape to our imagined worlds even as it helps us make sense of the one we inhabit. In Curry: Eating, Reading and Race, a book of nonfiction that grew out of a work of fiction, Naben Ruthnum considers these connections. Join him for an intimate conversation with his editor, Emily Keeler, on how they conceived and perfected this engaging and entertaining collection and how the metaphor of “curry” helped frame Naben’s thoughts on books, race, identity, and belonging.

Naben Ruthnum won the Journey Prize for his short fiction, but he has also been a National Post books columnist and has written cultural criticism for The Globe and Mail, Hazlitt, and The Walrus. His crime fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Joyland, and his pseudonym Nathan Ripley’s first novel will appear in 2018. Naben’s Journey-prize winning story “Cinema Rex” seeded the ideas in Curry: Eating, Reading and Race.

Emily M. Keeler is the Vice President of PEN Canada and the series editor for Exploded Views, a line of short, punch books from Coach House Books. She has been a senior editor at Toronto Life, The Walrus, and edited the National Post‘s Books section from 2014-2016. Her writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Los Angeles Times, Literary Review of Canada, and many other newspapers and magazines.

 

1:30 PM – 3:00 PM     Conversation

Building Bridges, Respecting Boundaries: Narrative and the Relationship between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Canadians.

The stories we’ve been telling about Canada for 150 years have contributed to rifts, misunderstandings, and grave injustice, and as creative nonfiction writers, we have a unique opportunity to help heal Canada’s deepest wound. Beginning with an in-depth conversation between Indigenous journalist and author Waubgeshig Rice and non-Indigenous nonfiction author Pauline Le Bel, this panel will then invite questions and observations from the audience about cultural appropriation, reconciliation, and reciprocal connection. Participants will leave with a better sense of how to move beyond educating ourselves about our colonial past toward building mutually-enhancing relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Pauline Le Bel is an award-winning novelist, Emmy-nominated screenwriter, poet, and author of two non-fiction books. Becoming Intimate with the Earth is a transformative guide to healing our relationship with our planetary home through science, poetry and traditional wisdom. Her most recent book is Whale in the Door: A Community Unites to Protect BC’s Howe Sound. She is the Creative Director of Knowing Our Place, a Reconciliation Initiative on Bowen Island where she lives.

Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist originally from Wasauksing First Nation on Georgian Bay. His short story collection Midnight Sweatlodge and debut novel Legacy were published by Theytus Books in 2011 and 2014, respectively. His forthcoming novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, will be published by ECW Press in 2018. In 2014, he received the Anishinabek Nation’s Debwewin Citation for Excellence in First Nation Storytelling. By day, he works as a broadcast and web journalist for CBC in Sudbury.

 

3:30 PM – 5:00 PM     Plenary Panel

Forming Voice: Identity and Experience

Carol Off, Elizabeth Renzetti, Naben Ruthnum
Moderator: Lorri Neilsen Glenn

This weekend, throughout our first CNFC conference in Canada’s most multi-cultural city, we’ve focussed our sessions on questions of history, identity, community, and belonging. Join three of our illustrious guest authors with experienced moderator Lorri Neilsen Glenn as they explore the relevance of these themes in their own work and the work of other admired authors, and the role of creative nonfiction in shaping our country’s future.

Lorri Neilsen Glenn is the author of Following the River: Traces of Red River Women. As she discovered the stories of her Cree, Ininiwak and Métis grandmothers and their contemporaries, she encountered difficult questions of erasure, sexism, racism, appropriation and representation. Lorri has written and edited several books of creative nonfiction, poetry and scholarly work. Former Halifax Poet Laureate, she teaches in the MFA program in creative nonfiction at University of King’s College.

Carol Off’s passion for storytelling fills the airwaves every weekday on CBC Radio’s As It Happens. She is also the author of several critically-acclaimed books, most recently, All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others. A gripping story about a family’s struggle to escape Taliban oppression and the persecutions of refugee life, All We Leave Behind is this year’s winner of the BC Award for Canadian Nonfiction.

Elizabeth Renzetti is a national columnist for The Globe and Mail. Her best-selling 2015 novel, Based on a True Story, won widespread praise as “a seriously funny book.” Her latest is a work of nonfiction that draws on her decades of reporting on feminist issues. Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls is a collection of pointed essays about feminism at a crossroads.

Naben Ruthnum won the Journey Prize for his short fiction, but he has also been a National Post books columnist and has written cultural criticism for The Globe and Mail, Hazlitt, and The Walrus. His crime fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Joyland, and his pseudonym Nathan Ripley’s first novel will appear in 2018. Naben’s Journey-prize winning story “Cinema Rex” seeded the ideas in Curry: Eating, Reading and Race.

 

6:30 PM – 7:00 PM  (continues through evening)   Cash Bar

7:00 PM – 8:30 PM     Dinner

8:30 PM – 11:00 PM    Announcement of Contest Winners and Literary Cabaret
The Literary Cabaret is an opportunity for new members and old hands alike to share a 2-minute excerpt from recent work or work in progress with an audience of eager peers. Time keeping is strict (we have our methods!) but any type of work is welcome, and the Cabaret is always one of our liveliest and most entertaining events.

Sunday, May 6

9:30 AM – 12:00 PM Annual General Meeting

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM Literary Jane’s Walk

 

PRE- AND POST-CONFERENCE EVENTS

The following events are not part of the conference, but may be of interest to Conference attendees:

Wednesday, May 2

10:00 AM – 3:00 PM  Workshop: Research Methods in Theological Reflection with Heather Walton

Arts-based research methods for theological scholars. This session may also be of interest to writers and scholars in other disciplines who would like to broaden their skills as researchers. Free, but registration is required.

Thursday, May 3

10:00 – 3:00  Spiritual Life Writing with Heather Walton

This interactive workshop will explore spiritual life writing as a means of engaging creatively with the challenges of meaning making in everyday life. Free, but registration is required.

Heather Walton is Professor of Theology and Creative Practice and Director of Literature, Theology and the Arts at the University of Glasgow. She has higher degrees in both social research and creative writing. She is the author of Writing Methods in Theological Reflection (2014) and Not Eden: Spiritual Life Writing for This World (2015).

These workshops are funded by Emmanuel College and Victoria University.

Evening: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM   Book Launch for Love Me True, edited by Jane Silcott and Fiona Lam, and featuring readings by other CNFC members. At Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay Street. More details to follow.
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Monday, May 7

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM   Talk by CNFC member Pauline Le Bel, author of Whale in the Door: A Community Unites to Protect BC’s Howe Sound. Moderated by Alanna Mitchell, author of Seasick.

Toronto Public Library, Yorkville Branch, 22 Yorkville Avenue