Alison Pick named Laurier’s Fall Term Writer-in-Residence

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Photo by Safina Husein

Each year, Wilfrid Laurier University gives out an award and two writing positions in honour of Edna Staebler, a member of the Order of Canada, award-winning journalist and author of 21 books, including the bestselling Schmecks series.

The award given out is the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, which was created by Staebler herself in 1991 and has been administered by the university.

The award is the only one in Canada for the genre, and has 28 recipients so far. The writer-in-residence is a paid residency at the university for a 10-week residency, and the author dedicates 40 per cent of their time to Laurier projects and programs like classroom visits, leading workshops or lectures and participating in community programming.

The visiting author is a similar position; however, they are only at the university for 2 weeks, from Oct. 22 to Nov. 2, 2018.

The visiting author, this year’s author being Alison Pick, does get time to work on their own projects, but they are also an added value to the Laurier community when they arrive.

“What she does is works with beginning writers at Laurier, looking at their work and giving them professional feedback. She also will be doing one or two public events, and she’ll talk about the writing process, it gives the writers a lot of freedom because we want it to come from their experience,” said Tanis MacDonald, chair of the Edna Staebler Writer-in-Residence Selection Committee.

“I think I’ll take the lead of the professor. I haven’t heard a lot about which particular classes I’ll be visiting, but I’ll see what curriculum they’ve been doing and what content they’ve been covering.”

MacDonald is also an associate professor at Laurier and will be showcasing Pick’s writing in her own courses as well.

“She’ll also do other kinds of public events like coming to classrooms and speaking. I’ll be teaching at least one of her texts, Far to Go, in my Contemporary Canadian Literature course,” MacDonald said.

Rather than just covering the material from an external point of view, MacDonald would rather get the author herself to explain her works.

“I’ll ask her to talk a little about the process of writing each book, as Far to Go is her research into her own family history around the holocaust, it’s a beautiful novel and a very intense novel,” MacDonald said.

“I’m interested in the idea that she would take something non-fictional, but of course had lots of gaps and things she didn’t know and change that into a fictional construct.”

Alison Pick, an award-winning author who also works at Humber College mentoring students in writing by helping with papers they send her, editing their works and answering any questions they may have.

As for her plans at Laurier, Pick is willing to do the same for students here who may have any questions for her.

“I grew up in KW so I feel a real allegiance to the place, my parents still live here so it feels like an extra connection. I love mentoring emerging writers, people who are just starting out or a little bit further on the path,” Pick said.

“I’m looking forward to connecting with people who want to have their work read and also students in creative writing and English classes.”

Her two weeks at Laurier commence at the end of October.

Though Pick is dedicating almost half of her time when visiting to helping out students, the university does give time for each author to work on their own projects as well.

“I’m just starting out a new novel, so I’m at the early stages of it. It will be nice to have a little time and space to plunge in,” Pick said on her upcoming endeavours. When it comes to classroom visits, Pick is flexible as to what topics she would like to cover.

“I think I’ll take the lead of the professor. I haven’t heard a lot about which particular classes I’ll be visiting, but I’ll see what curriculum they’ve been doing and what content they’ve been covering,” Pick said.

Alison will be available for helping mentor students during her visit at Laurier. Help from an award winning author is something valuable to any student looking to improve their writing.

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