Larissa Andrusyshyn completed an MA in English and creative writing at Concordia University. Her first poetry collection Mammoth (DC Books 2010) was longlisted for the ReLit award, and shortlisted for the QWF first book prize and the Kobzar literary award. Her second poetry collection Proof (DC Books) was published in 2014. Her poems have been a finalist for Arc Magazine’s Poem-of-the-Year, the CBC Poetry Prize and the 3 Macs carte blanche Prize. She facilitates creative writing workshops in Montreal and is currently working on a new poetry manuscript and her first novel.
Ryan is a creative producer and writer. Over the past 10 years, he has created thousands of minutes of bilingual video and podcast programming for the cultural and education sectors. His work has been installed in museums, featured on CTV, CBC television and radio, in The Globe & Mail, National Post, Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and dozens of other publications. Ryan is currently writing a graphic novel based on the work and life of silent screen star Buster Keaton. His non-fiction writing has been published by Firefly Books in North America and Éditions Glénat in Europe.
Barry Bilinsky is a professional theatre creator of Metis, Cree and Ukrainian heritage. He has worked as a director, curator, performing artist, stage manager, and technical/production manager across Canada with projects centred primarily around the proliferation of Indigenous arts, artists, and collaborations. He studied Drama and English at the University of Alberta, attaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2012. Barry is an Artistic Associate with Dreamspeakers Indigenous Film Festival and has been involved with Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts, The Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society, Iiniistsi Treaty Arts Society (REDx Talks), and Fool Spectrum Theatre. Barry is committed to developing honest, respectful, and purposefully compassionate creations that challenge the overarching cultural assumptions often faced in the performing arts community.
Jimmy Blais is a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation; he is of Plains Cree and French settler heritage. Born and raised on tiohtià:ke, Jimmy is a seasoned stage and film actor and has worked for over 15 years in collaboration with companies like Native Earth Performing Arts, The Stratford Festival, The N.A.C., Centaur, Geordie Theatre, Porte Parole, and La Licorne. He has had roles in television and film for Crave, Discovery Channel, CBC and Space as well as multiple award winning short films. Jimmy’s most notable TV role was playing Watio for five seasons in APTN’s hit series Mohawk Girls. Jimmy is also a writer and director. His most recent play Feather Gardens won him a META for Outstanding New Text. In October of 2021, Jimmy became the 4th Artistic Director of Geordie Theatre in Montreal.
Métis multidisciplinary artist Moe Clark is a nomadic songbird with wings woven from circle singing and spoken word. Originally from Treaty 7, she’s called tio’tia:ke (Montreal) home for over a decade. Moe fuses together vocal improvisation with multilingual lyricism to create meaning that is rooted in personal legacy and ancestral memory. Apart from performance, she facilitates creative workshops in various contexts; she produces festivals and performances; and she mentors emerging indigenous artists. In 2016 she launched nistamîkwan: a transformational arts organization with an emphasis on intercultural and intergenerational collaboration. Moe has two albums of music, a bilingual book of poetry and multiple performance videos. Her work has been featured around the world at the Lincoln Centre (US), Queensland Poetry Festival (AU), Maelström Poetry Festival (BE) and Planet IndigenUs festival (CA), among others.
www.moeclark.ca / www.nistamîkwan.com
Prudence Gendron (she/her) is a Montreal-based writer, transfemme white settler, and educator. Her work has appeared in CV2, Antilang, and The Puritan, for whom she was a 2021 Pushcart nominee, as well as elsewhere. Alongside the above, she has spent over a decade nurturing Montreal’s vibrant DIY music and arts community, facilitating a wide array of arts events across several venues and collectives. She is currently working on a forthcoming solo album release, The Boys are Homophobic Sweethearts, and a surrealistic novel-in-prose, Bride.
Roen Higgins is an award-winning spoken word poet, educator, and speaker. As the founder of The Elevated Creative, her mission is to elevate others through creative literacy and help get them unstuck and tap into their genius zone. She is dedicated to planting the seed that creativity should be fostered, valued, and celebrated at home and school. Dubbed as Blu’Rva, Roen is known as a repeat winner in the scene of improv & slam poetry and has performed from local stages to festival du monde as an independent artist. She is a long-time member of The Poets Tree and Kalmunity Vibe Collective. Roen is a graduate of Human Relations and Family Life Education from Concordia University. Her creative contributions were recognized by the Black Theatre Workshop with the Gloria Mitchell-Aleong Award (2012).
Featured in CBC Arts online series (2021) and the poetry anthology Talking Book (2006, Cumulus Press).
Emily Tristan Jones
Emily Tristan Jones grew up in the Northwest Territories and on the prairies. Her poems have been in The Puritan, Harvard Review, Vallum, Denver Quarterly, Dalhousie Review, and several other journals. She is an alumna of the University of Chicago (a winner of its emerging writers series), Banff Centre, and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She is the founder of Hermes Gallery (Halifax) and has curated exhibitions for the Dalhousie Art Gallery (Dalhousie University), Current Space (Baltimore), and elsewhere. Her own art has been distributed by Vtape and exhibited internationally. She lives in Montreal, where she teaches poetry and edits the online poetry quarterly, Columba.
Julianna Kozma debut novel, Mosquitoes of Summer, was the 2009 winner of Book Idol.com. The following year, Canadian publisher McArthur & Co. published Mosquitoes of Summer, followed by Secrets of the Dunes. Most recently, Secrets of the Dunes was endorsed by Canadian Teacher Magazine, as well as by Canadian Materials Magazine. Prior to becoming a novelist, Julianna worked as a financial journalist for 15 years. Since then she has gone into teaching, and works both in the elementary and high school system. Julianna divides her time between the Laurentians in Quebec, and Prince Edward Island with her husband, their two children, and their pet parrots, Mr. Bean, Pickles and Indigo.
Kate Lavut writes and draws and puts them together to make comic books. Chico, a finalist for the Quebec Writers Federation Award, is a graphic novel that tells the story of the time Kate dressed as a boy, jumped on a bus and went to Mexico. She is currently working on a new graphic novel about her experience having breast cancer. In 2010, Lavut founded a small publishing house called Paper Dog Press. Over the first covid lockdown, she mentored a grade ten student who realized her dream of writing her first book. Kate loves working with people and getting them to express their best selves. She has recently started teaching comic bookmaking and creative writing classes and will soon add teaching drama to her repertoire.
Chris Masson is a poet, performer, and educator currently based in Montreal, where he organizes poetry slams and teaches poetry workshops to youth with the Throw Poetry Collective and the Quebec Writers Federation Writers in the Community program. He has been featured on stages across the continent, and toured his one-man play “Pathos, Punchlines, and Painkillers” to various festivals. His work appears in the love letter anthology Where the Nights Are Twice As Long (Goose Lane 2015).
Rachel McCrum is a poet, performer and workshop facilitator. Originally from Northern Ireland, she lived in Edinburgh, Scotland between 2010 and 2016. She was the first BBC Scotland Poet-in-Residence, and Broad of cult spoken word cabaret Rally & Broad. She has taught and performed in Greece, South Africa, Haiti, and Canada, and toured her first book ‘The First Blast To Awaken Women Degenerate’ (Freight Books) across Ireland, Scotland and England in 2017. She was the co-founder of Stewed Rhubarb Press (Callum MacDonald Award 2012). She is now delighted to call Montreal home, where she is co-Director of Mile End Poets’ Festival (with Ian Ferrier), Membership Coordinator of Quebec Writers’ Federation, and runs around with various poetry events including the bilingual series Les Cabarets Bâtards and – with Aaron Boothby – new summer Sunday evening series Breathing Space.
For more information: https://rachelmccrumpoetperformer.wordpress.com/
Born in Montreal to Egyptian/Lebanese parents, Nadine Neema is an award-winning multi-disciplinary artist with 15+ years of experience. She has four albums of songs and spoken word poetry. She has toured internationally opening for artists such as Joe Cocker & Elton John and was mentored by Leonard Cohen, who co-produced her second album. She leads creativity, songwriting and storytelling workshops to empower youth to find their own voice. Neema recently published a YA historical fiction novel set on the Tłįchǫ ancestral lands in the NWT, which earned a finalist for three awards. She began working in Wekweètì, NWT in 1999, first as a community manager, then assisting with land claims negotiations under Chief Negotiator John B. Zoe. She has maintained a strong bond with the community through workshops, photography projects, and canoe trips.
Mahta Riazi (she/her/hers) is an Iranian/Canadian poet, community worker, and educator currently living in Tio’tia:ke (Montréal) on the unceded territories of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk people). Mahta works in popular education and is interested in the literary arts as a way to connect communities and collectively learn and heal. Her poetry appears in inQluded magazine, Voicemail Poems, Headline Anthology, FEED literary magazine, khejalat zine and Yolk literary magazine.
Photo credit: Self-ish open mic @selfishopenmic
Jason “Blackbird” Selman
Jason “Blackbird” Selman is a Montreal-born poet and trumpet player. He is the author of The Freedom I Stole (2007, Cumulus Press), and Africa As A Dream That Travels Through My Heart (2016, Howl), and co-editor of the poetry anthology Talking Book (2006, Cumulus Press), which chronicles the writings of Kalm Unity Vibe Collective (of which he is a founding member). He has done extensive poetry workshops in schools and community groups across the Montreal area. His work is grounded in the themes of ethno-musicology, surrealist expression, love, and the intersection of masculinity and emotional vulnerability.
Deanna Smith is a lover of words. Over the years, she has expressed this love through art, as a poet, and through science, as a Speech-Language Pathologist. Her creative work is rooted in her experiences as a descendent of the African Diaspora, a person who thinks in two languages, a daughter, a wife, a mother, and a neighbour of the many displaced peoples of Turtle Island. She has been fortunate to perform in venues across Canada and to have led workshops for participants aged 4-80. Her work has been published in Montréal Serai and in The Great Black North – Contemporary African Canadian Poetry (Frontenac 2013).
Julie Tamiko Manning
Julie Tamiko Manning is an award-winning actor and theatre creator from Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. Co-Artistic Producer of Tashme Productions with Ottawa artist Matt Miwa, Julie has also a been a mentor to emerging actors with Black Theatre Workshop through their Artists Mentorship Program, and with Artista, Imago Theatre’s mentorship program for young theatre creators. She has taught at Geordie Theatre School, is a facilitator for the Arrivals Legacy Process with Diane Roberts and a community activist through the many boards and committees she sits on, and is a proud Sansei (third generation) mixed-race Japanese Canadian. She is currently finishing her third play, Mizushōbai, about Kiyoko Tanaka Goto, a Japanese picture-bride turned ‘underground’ businesswoman in 1930’s BC, slated for production in the 2023/24 season.
We would also like to express our gratitude to the following sponsors, without whom the Writers in the Community program would not be possible