2023 Conference Presenters


WRITING TRUE 2023: Riding the Waves

In Person: Halifax/Kjipuktuk, Nova Scotia

Virtual: via Zoom

May 26-28, 2023


Donna Morrissey (Keynote) was born and raised in a small outport in Newfoundland. She is the author of several books including Sylvanus Now which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Her most recent book, Pluck: A Memoir of a Newfoundland Childhood and The Raucous, Terrible, Amazing Journey to becoming a Novelist (shortlisted for the 2022 Evelyn Richardson Non-fiction Award), is a deeply personal account of love’s restorative ability as it leads her through mental illness, death, and despair to becoming the writer she is today. She teaches creative writing and lives in Halifax.


Katherine Barrett is Understorey Magazine’s founder and editor in chief. She is also an editor with the Afghan Women’s Writing Project and Demeter Press. She is widely published in both fiction and non-fiction. She holds a combined PhD in Botany and Ethics and currently lives in Nova Scotia.


Brian Bartlett has published seven collections and eight chapbooks of poetry, a gathering of prose on poetry, and three volumes of nature writing: Ringing Here and There: A Nature Calendar, Branches Over Ripples: A Waterside Journal, and Daystart Songflight: A Morning Journal.  He has also edited several books, including Alden Nowlan’s Collected Poems. His poetry has been honoured with the Atlantic Poetry Prize, the Acorn-Plantos Award for People’s Poetry, and two Malahat Review Long Poem Prizes. Bartlett is Professor Emeritus at Saint Mary’s University, where he taught creative writing and many fields of literature for nearly three decades.


Yvonne Blomer lives on the traditional territories of the WSÁNEC´ (Saanich) peoples of the Coast Salish Nation. Her most recent book is The Last Show on Earth (Caitlin Press, 2022). In September 2022, Palimpsest Press released Book of Places 10th Anniversary Edition with new poems and layout. Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur is her memoir exploring body, time, and travel. Yvonne is the past Poet Laureate of Victoria, B.C., and Arc Magazine’s poet-in-residence for 2022-23. Yvonne teaches classes in poetry and memoir to students across North America via Zoom and prior to the pandemic taught at Camosun College.


Virginia Boudreau won the Bacopa Literary Review prize for Flash Creative Non-Fiction in 2020, and her poem, “Harbour,” placed third of more than 900 entries from 58 countries in the Stephen A DeBiase Poetry Competition in 2021. Her work has appeared in many international publications including The New York Times. She is a retired teacher and lives in Nova Scotia.


Dr. Afua Cooper is an internationally celebrated author, poet, historian, and social and cultural commentator. Her twelve books range across such genres as history, poetry, fiction, and children’s literature, and her ground-breaking book on Canadian slavery, The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Slavery in Canada and the Burning of Old Montreal, was nominated for the Governor General’s Non-fiction Award. She serves as a full professor at Dalhousie University’s Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology where she holds a prestigious Killam Research Chair. Dr. Cooper was Halifax’s Poet Laureate from 2018-2020.


Jane Doucet is a Halifax author and journalist. Her work has been published in leading national magazines including Chatelaine and Canadian Living. Her debut novel, The Pregnant Pause, was shortlisted for a 2018 Whistler Independent Book Award. Her second novel, Fishnets & Fantasies, was published by Vagrant Press in 2021, and her third novel will be released in fall 2023 by the same publisher.


Michelle Doyle is a former marketing executive who is now a writer, wellness speaker, and stand-up comedian in Toronto. An LGBTQ+ activist, she uses her personal story as a base to speak on mental health and stress management in environments ranging from hospitals to conference halls to multinational corporation boardrooms. Her work was featured in Cuarenta Y Nueve, a book commemorating the forty-nine lives lost at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of King’s College, and was longlisted for the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize.


Andre Fenton is an award-winning African Nova Scotian author, spoken-word artist, filmmaker and educator, and has represented Halifax at seven national poetry slams. His books have received several honours including being shortlisted for the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature in the 2021 Atlantic Book Awards for Annaka. He is a board member of the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia and member at large of Spoken Word Canada. In November 2022, he received an Emerging Artist recognition award at the Creative NS Awards.


Lana Hall is a Toronto-based journalist and essayist interested in business, culture and the politics of urban life. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, Maisonneuve, Spacing Magazine, and several literary magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Toronto Metropolitan University and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of King’s College. Represented by agent Kathryn Wilms at the Rights Factory, Lana is writing a memoir about the five years she spent working in Toronto’s underground massage parlour business.


Katie Ingram is a Halifax author, journalist and instructor at the University of King’s College. Her work has been featured in major publications including Maclean’s, The Walrus, and Atlantic Books Today. Her book Breaking Disaster: Newspaper Stories of the Halifax Explosion was published in 2017.


Stephen Kimber is an award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster. He is a professor of journalism at the University of King’s College where he co-founded the MFA program. He has written more than a dozen books of fiction and non-fiction including the recent Bitcoin Widow: Love, Betrayal and the Missing Millions (with Jennifer Robertson). His writing has appeared in almost all major Canadian publications and he was recently awarded the 2022 Evelyn Richardson Non-fiction Prize for Alexa! Changing the Face of Canadian Politics.


Janice Landry is an award-winning writer and journalist whose non-fiction work primarily focuses on mental health and wellness. Her fifth book, Silver Linings, completed in 2019, focuses on gratitude and resilience vis-à-vis mental health. She has a journalism degree from the University of King’s College.


Chad Lucas is an author, journalist, teacher and proud descendant of the historic African Nova Scotian community of Lucasville. His novel, Thanks a Lot, Universe was named best middle grade book of 2021 by the School Library Journal, New York Public Library, and Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Let the Monster Out was published in 2022.


Kathy Mac is a Fredericton poet and teacher. Her books include Human Misunderstanding and Nail Builders Plan for Strength and Growth (a finalist for the Governor General’s Poetry Award). She is a builder of literary communities including the Writers Federation of New Brunswick.


Laura MacGregor is a qualitative researcher and caregiving ethicist whose research focuses on the intersection of faith, disability, and caregiving. She is the Co-Editor, along with co-presenter Amy Panton, of the Mad and Crip Theology Press. Laura’s work emerges from her experiences parenting a son with profound physical and intellectual disabilities. She is a recent graduate of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University, and she holds a PhD in Human Relations from Martin Luther University College (WLU), an MA in Christian Studies, as well as a masters and undergraduate degree in the health sciences. In her free time Laura enjoys hiking, knitting, and spending time with her family.

AnnMarie MacKinnon is the publisher of Visual Arts News. She has worked in magazine and book publishing for two decades in various editorial and marketing positions at Edible Vancouver and Douglas & McIntyre, including her former role as Publisher and Editor in Chief for Geist magazine. She currently makes her home in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.


Susan MacLeod is a Halifax artist and author with both a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from NSCAD University and an MFA from the University of King’s College. Her book, Dying For Attention, was a finalist for the 2022 Evelyn Richardson Creative Non-Fiction Award from the Nova Scotia Book Awards—the first graphic memoir to be nominated.


Amy Panton is the Mad and Crip Theology Press founder and Co-Editor. She is a Mad Theologian who has lived experience of mental distress and other physical disabilities. She is the co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Theology, Mental Health and Disability which publishes creative work, research articles and invited commentaries that explore the intersections between mental distress and disability. Amy also co-hosts the Mad and Crip Theology Podcast with Miriam Spies where they invite authors, artists, activists and researchers to about their work. Amy is member of Editors Canada, and is a PhD candidate studying practical theology at Emmanuel College in Toronto. Her dissertation research is on how faith communities can learn from people with lived experience of self-injury.

Tracey Erin Smith is an internationally recognized transformational leader and creator. An award-winning performer/playwright/educator she is also the creator/host of the critically acclaimed documentary TV series DRAG HEALS (OUTTV, Amazon Prime, Apple TV). Tracey is the founder and driver of SOULO Theatre, originating in Toronto, with workshops around the world. Her solo shows have been performed across Canada and Off-Broadway. Tracey is hard at work on her first book The Ministry of Stories.


Three time Award-winning author and interdisciplinary artist Michelle Sylliboy (Mi’kmaq/L’nu) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and raised on her traditional L’nuk territory in We’koqmaq, Cape Breton. Her published collection of photographs and L’nuk hieroglyphic poetry, Kiskajeyi—I Am Ready won the 2020 Indigenous Voices Award. In 2021, she received the Indigenous Artist Recognition Award from Arts Nova Scotia. In 2022, she was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award. As a PhD candidate in Simon Fraser University’s Philosophy of Education program, she focuses on the artistic promotion of her original written komqwej’wikasikl language


Jon Tattrie is the Halifax author of two novels and six non-fiction books including Peace by Chocolate. As a CBC journalist, his investigative stories have advanced local social justice causes. He has taught journalism at the University of King’s College where he also obtained his MFA in Creative Non-Fiction in 2020. His latest book, Sword and Soul: How an American Exile Rewrote Fantasy will be published in 2024 by McClelland & Stewart.


Wanda Taylor is an award-winning journalist, author, filmmaker and college professor. She has a background in journalism, social work, early childhood education, and writes across children’s, YA, and adult markets. Her middle grade nonfiction book, Birchtown and the Black Loyalists was listed as one of the top Black History books for children by the Canadian Children’s Book Center and Parent Today Magazine. Her magazine features, poems, and essays can be found in publications across Canada, the UK, and the US, including Dark Mountain, Black Business Magazine, and numerous others. Wanda is a former acquisitions editor and currently freelances as a manuscript editor and sensitivity reader. She teaches courses in Journalism, Story Writing for Media, Communications, and Creative Non-Fiction. She is also Faculty/Mentor for the MFA Writing and Publishing Program at King’s College. Her next two books are set for release with HarperCollins June 2023 and Spring 2024.


Harry Thurston has written two dozen books of poetry and non-fiction. His eco-biography, A Place between The Tides, A Naturalist’s Reflections on the Salt Marsh, won the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award in the United States. The Atlantic Coast, A Natural History won the Lane Anderson Award for best science writing in Canada. His 26th book, Lost River: The Waters of Remembrance, A Memoir (Gaspereau Press, 2020), tells the overarching story of Thurston’s life – one that encompasses both loss (that of his childhood home, rivers and some of the closest people in his life) but also love (of his family, his writing and nature).




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