Writers’ Trust Posting Canadian Authors to the Yukon

Future Berton House Writers-in-Residence Named

The Writers’ Trust of Canada announced the next four writers to attend the Berton House Writers’ Retreat, Canada’s most northern author residency program. Each writer will travel to Dawson City, Yukon, to live and work for three months in the childhood home of Pierre Berton.

“The Writers’ Trust is proud to provide a unique sanctuary to Canadian writers through the Berton House Writers’ Retreat,” said Peter Kahnert, Writers’ Trust Chair and Senior Vice President, Raymond James Ltd. “These four talented writers have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Dawson City and fully apply themselves to their current works-in-progress.”

The writers selected are:

Joan Thomas (July to September 2012)

Thomas is the author of the novels Curiosity and Reading by Lightning. She is a past recipient of the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. While in Dawson City, the Winnipeg-resident intends to work on Help Island, a novel about three characters in crisis challenged to revise their views on nature.

Sherry MacDonald (October to December 2012)

MacDonald is a Vancouver-based playwright and screenwriter. Her plays Iraqui Karaoke, The Duchess of Alba, and The Stone Face have been produced in Vancouver, Calgary, and Orlando, Florida. Her current works-in-progress include a contemporary play situated in the foothills of Alberta and a one-woman play about Mary Shelley.

Chris Turner (January to March 2013)

Turner is a leading writer and speaker on sustainability and the global cleantech industry. Based in Calgary, he is the author of three nonfiction books. He is currently writing his first novel, Canadian Shield, a shadow history of the 20th century that blends elements of fiction and nonfiction.

Melanie Siebert (April to June 2013)

Siebert is a poet from Victoria. Her debut book, Deepwater Vee, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2010. At Berton House she intends to focus on new work that “aims to translate the surging and hypnotic energy of rivers, while thinking through colonialism, wilderness, and loss.”

About the Selection Process

The program received 68 applications from writers across the country. The applicants were assessed by a three-member committee: Frances Backhouse, a past writer-in-residence and Victoria-based author that specializes in writing about biology and history; Jeramy Dodds, a past writer-in-residence and Calgary-based poet; and Miriam Havemann, a Dawson City resident and past librarian of the Dawson City Community Library.

About the Berton House Writers’ Retreat

Created in 1996, Berton House provides a three-month residency for writers in a Dawson City home. Writers receive a monthly honorarium, perform public readings, and are encouraged to become involved with the community. Professional Canadian writers who have published at least one book and are established in any creative literary discipline (including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, play/screenwriting, and journalism) are eligible. Funding for the program comes from the Berton House Writers’ Retreat Society (chaired by Elsa Franklin) and the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Additional support is provided by the Canada Council for the Arts, Dawson City Community Library, Klondike Visitors Association, Amazon.ca, Aeroplan, City of Dawson, and Whitehorse Public Library. For further information visit bertonhouse.ca.

The house is currently occupied by Dan Dowhal, a novelist from Toronto. In the coming months, Hamilton-based novelist Lawrence Hill and Toronto-based nonfiction writer Tim Falconer will begin residencies.

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