The Mairuth Sarsfield Mentorship Program for Underrepresented Writers

Scroll down to see the participants in the 2020 Mairuth Sarsfield Mentorship Program.

The Quebec Writers’ Federation is delighted to announce the inaugural Mairuth Sarsfield Mentorship. The mentorship, which is a component of QWF’s Fresh Pages initiative, is designed to help an aspiring writer or playwright who is Indigenous, Black or a person of colour to develop their literary writing.

The mentorship goes to a Quebec-based writer or playwright who has already demonstrated an interest in literary writing. The selected writer works with their mentor over the course of four months (February through May) and participates in a public reading in June.

The selected writer also receives a free one-year membership in QWF.

Mairuth Sarsfield (1925-2013) was born and raised in the Little Burgundy district of Montreal. She achieved distinction in every arena she entered: as a best-selling novelist and a journalist; working for Canada’s External Affairs Department at home and abroad; serving as press secretary for the Canadian delegation to the United Nations and as a senior information officer for the United Nations Environment Programme based in Nairobi, Kenya. She also served on the Board of Directors of the CBC. Among the many awards and honours she received are the Chevalier à l’Ordre National du Quebec, the National Congress of Black Women Foundation’s First Literary Award for her novel No Crystal Stair, and the declaration of “Mairuth Sarsfield Day” by the City of Cleveland for her work on the “For Every Child a Tree” environmental campaign, which led to thousands of tree-planting projects around the world.

These accomplishments were nothing short of remarkable for any woman in twentieth-century North America. The fact that Mairuth Sarsfield achieved them, and more, as a Black woman, ensures her role as an inspiration for all future generations of young people from marginalized communities. With this mentorship program, the Quebec Writers’ Federation is proud to shine a spotlight on Ms. Sarsfield’s life and contributions to her city, her country, and the world.

Timeline:

  • Call for applications: September
  • Deadline for applications: November
  • Notification of results: December
  • Mentorship period: February to May
  • Public reading: June

2020 Program – Poetry

The 2020 Mairuth Sarsfield Mentee: Faith Paré

Faith-Paré_Photo-by-Isobel-Rose-Carnegie
Photo credit: Isobel Rose Carnegie

Faith Paré is a poet and performer of Afro-Guyanese and Québécois ancestries. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in GUTS, Ossa Magazine, and Shameless Magazine, the latter of which awarded her their inaugural Talking Back Award in Poetry. She is an alum of Our Bodies, Our Stories, a mentorship program and creative collective for QTBIPOC artists. She writes from Tiohtià:ke (Montréal), the unceded territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka people, as she studies English and Creative Writing at Concordia University. Faith will be working with Gillian Sze.

The 2020 Mairuth Sarsfield Mentor: Gillian Sze

Photo credit: Christian Lee

Gillian Sze is the author of multiple poetry collections including Peeling Rambutan, Redrafting Winter, and Panicle, which were finalists for the QWF’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry. She studied Creative Writing and English Literature and received a Ph.D. in Études anglaises from Université de Montréal. Originally from Winnipeg, she now resides in Montreal, where she teaches creative writing and literature. www.gilliansze.com

The 2020 Jury: Tanya Evanson, Kaie Kellough, and Nigel Thomas.

Tanya Evanson is an Antiguan-Canadian poet, performer, producer, arts educator and director of Banff Centre Spoken Word. She tours internationally and has published six artist books, four studio albums and two videopoems. In 2013 she received the Golden Beret Award and was Poet of Honour at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Bothism (Ekstasis 2017) is her first published poetry collection followed by Nouveau Griot (Frontenac 2018). She lives in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal and moonlights as a whirling dervish.

Kaie Kellough is a poet, novelist, and sound performer. His most recent book is Magnetic Equator (McClelland and Stewart, 2019). He is the author of two sound-poetry recordings, two earlier books of poetry, and the novel Accordéon, nominated for the Amazon First Novel Award. Kaie’s upcoming work is Dominoes at the Crossroads (Véhicule, 2020), fiction that leaps time and latitude, and divides its consciousness between North America and the Caribbean.

H. Nigel Thomas is a retired professor of United States literature. His published works include five novels and three collections of Short stories. His novel Spirits in the Dark was nominated for the QSPELL Hugh MacLennan Fiction Prize; and No Safeguards, another novel, was nominated for the Paragraphe Quebec Writers’ Federation Hugh MacLennan Fiction Prize. He is the founder and English-language coordinator of Lectures Logos Readings.