Winterset winner named writer-in-residence
By Janet Harron
Best known for her multi-award-winning 2009 novel, Come, Thou Tortoise, St. John’s native Jessica Grant has been named writer-in-residence for the 2011 winter semester at Memorial University.
The winner of the 2009 Amazon.ca First Novel award and the 2010 Winterset Award, Dr. Grant is a Memorial University alumna, having completed her master's in English in 2003. She subsequently went on to complete a PhD in English with a specialization in creative writing at the University of Calgary in 2007.
Since then she has taught in Memorial’s Department of English as a per-course instructor in both introductory and advanced creative writing courses. She has also been on the faculty at the Banff Centre and at the Piper’s Frith writing retreat in Swift Current, N.L.
Dr. Grant’s work has been anthologized in Coming Attractions 03 and The Journey Prize Stories and she has published in The Malahat Review, Grain, Prairie Fire and A Room of One’s Own.
Dr. Larry Mathews is the chair of 2010 writer-in-residence committee and a big fan of Dr. Grant’s.
“Jessica Grant is, quite simply, the best new Newfoundland-based writer to have begun publishing in the last decade,” he said. “As writer-in-residence she continues a tradition of writers with a Memorial connection who have served in that role in the past: Andy Jones, who holds an honorary doctorate; Michael Crummey and Wayne Johnston, who earned undergraduate degrees here; and Lisa Moore, who took creative writing courses here as a part-time student.”
For her part, Dr. Grant said that teaching creative writing is unique because “it’s something you can’t really teach; more what you do is create an environment where good writing can happen, where students are encouraged to be daring and original. You try to be their ideal reader and help them achieve what they want to achieve, writing-wise.”
She also acknowledges the tremendous privilege of being chosen for the residency and has a lot of plans for the next few months.
"I hope to inspire and be inspired by other writers at Memorial and in the larger community. I want to be the best reader I can of the work writers bring to me. I want to encourage new voices. I want to organize literary events in places where they don't often happen: e.g., high schools, senior citizens' homes."
Dr. Grant will be available for individual consultations throughout her term as writer-in-residence, which begins Jan. 6, 2011. To make an appointment, please contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Canada Council for the Arts, the Faculty of Arts and the Department of English are sponsoring Jessica Grant’s four-month stint as Memorial’s writer-in-residence for the winter 2011 term. The writer-in-residence serves as a resource for the entire community, meeting with writers at any stage of development, working in any genre. This service is provided free, and is available to everyone, not just those with ties to the university.