Alumni & Friends - Ways to get involved and give back

Writers-in-Residence at UTSC

"Writer In Residence" over a fancy-looking pen

Since its inauguration in 2013, UTSC's Writer-in-Residence program has been bringing students into dialogue with select accomplished writers. In addition to holding regular office hours, running in-class workshops, and hosting the weekly creative writing group, each writer gives a reading/performance at the UTSC library and delivers a keynote lecture on “The Creative Life." 

To learn more about the Writer-In-Residence program at UTSC, or to explore how these celebrated authors might contribute to your class or event this term, please contact Andrew Westoll at


Writer-in-Residence 2021: El Jones

About the Writer

The UTSC English Department program is very excited to welcome spoken word poet and activist El Jones as our Writer-in-Residence for 2021. El is a poet, educator, journalist, and abolitionist living in African Nova Scotia. She was the fifth Poet Laureate of Halifax. In 2016, El was a recipient of the Burnley “Rocky” Jones human rights award for her community work and work in prison justice. She is a co-founder of the Black Power Hour, a live radio show with incarcerated people on CKDU that creates space for people inside to share their creative work and discuss contemporary social and political issues. El served as the 15th Nancy’s Chair of Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University for the 2017-2019 term. El was an Atlantic Journalism Award winner in 2018 and 2019. El would like to pay tribute to the many nameless and unrecognized women whose work makes it possible for her to be here today.


Office Hours (Winter Term 2021)

Mondays from 1-2pm and Tuesdays from 4-5pm (EST): (Meeting ID: 986 8349 1756, pw: 767616)

These meetings can be informal discussions, or they can be feedback sessions based on manuscripts than students have sent to her ahead of time.


The Creative Life Keynote

El gave the 2021 Writer-in-Residence keynote address on Wednesday 31 March. You can view the event on our YouTube channel at:


Welcome Event

Join the UTSC Library in welcoming El Jones on Wednesday 3 February, from 1-2pm:


COW Meetings

El will be co-hosting (with Andrew Westoll) our weekly gatherings of COW, the UTSC Creative Writing group. These meetings will be on Thursdays from 12-1pm (EST), at (Meeting ID: 986 8349 1756)


BIPOC Writers' Circle

El will host a montly circle for our BIPOC community on Fridays from 1-2pm (EST): Friday 5 February, Friday 5 March, and Friday 9 April
Meeting ID: 986 8349 1756
Passcode: 767616


Past Writers-in-Residence


Gary Barwin (2020)

Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, visual and multidisciplinary artist and the author of twenty-four books of poetry, fiction and books for children. His latest books includes A Cemetery for Holes, a poetry collaboration with Tom Prime (Gordon Hill, Fall 2019) and For It is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe: New and Selected Poems, ed. Alessandro Porco (Wolsak and Wynn, Fall 2019.) His national bestselling novel Yiddish for Pirates (Random House Canada) won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour as well as the Canadian Jewish Literary Award (Fiction) and the Hamilton Book Award (Fiction). It was also a finalist for both the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. A finalist for the National Magazine Awards (Poetry), he is a three-time recipient of Hamilton Poetry Book of the Year, has also received the Hamilton Arts Award for Literature and has co-won the bpNichol Chapbook Award and the K.M. Hunter Arts Award. A new novel, Don’t Fence Me In will appear from Random House in 2021. He has a PhD in music composition and is the publisher of serif of nottingham editions, an active literary organizer, and has been writer-in-residence at several libraries and universities. He lives in Hamilton and at


Carrianne Leung (2019)

Carrianne Leung is a fiction writer and educator. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Equity Studies from OISE/University of Toronto. Her debut novel, The Wondrous Woo (Inanna Publications) was shortlisted for the 2014 Toronto Book Awards. Her collection of linked stories, That Time I Loved You, was released in 2018 by HarperCollins and was also shortlisted for the Toronto Book Awards. Her work has also appeared in The Puritan, Ricepaper, The Globe and Mail, Room Magazine, Prairie Fire and Open Book Ontario.

Check out an interview with Carrianne here and read her foreword for Scarborough Fair here.


Aisha Sasha John (2018)

Aisha Sasha John is a poet, dancer and choreographer. Her solo performance ‘The Aisha of Oz’ premiered at the Whitney Museum in New York in 2017. Another iteration of the show will take place at the MAI in Montreal in 2018. Her previous poetry collection, Thou (2014), was a finalist for both the Trillium Book Award for Poetry and the ReLit Poetry Award. In addition to her solo work, she has choreographed, performed, and curated as a member of the performance collective WIVES. Aisha’s video work and text art have been exhibited in galleries and public installations. Born in Montreal, Aisha has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph, and a B.A. in African Studies and Semiotics from the University of Toronto.

Check out an interview with Aisha here and read her foreword for Scarborough Fair here.


Zoe Whittall (2017)

Zoe Whittall’s third novel, The Best Kind of People, is being adapted for feature film by Sarah Polley, was shortlisted for The Giller Prize, named Indigo’s #1 Book of 2016, selected as a Heather's Pick and a best book of the year by Walrus Magazine, The Globe & Mail, Toronto Life, & The National Post. She has worked as a TV writer on IFC’s The Baroness Von Sketch Show, which Vogue Magazine called “the best thing out of Canada since Ryan Gosling” and Crawford, a new comedy by the creators of the Trailer Park Boys, coming to Comedy Central in 2018. She has also written three volumes of poetry, most recently a new edition of The Emily Valentine Poems, which poet Eileen Myles blurbed with “This reminds me that I would like to know everything about this person.” Her next novel, The Spectacular, is forthcoming in 2019 with Ballantine in the U.S. and Harpercollins in Canada.

Check out an interview with Zoe here and read her foreword for Scarborough Fair here.


Helen Humphreys (2016)

Helen Humphreys is an acclaimed and award-winning author of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Her work includes the novel Machine Without HorsesThe Evening ChorusCoventry and Afterimage, and her non-fiction includes The Ghost Orchard and The Frozen Thames, as well as the memoir Nocturne. She has won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Toronto Book Award, and she has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Trillium Book Prize, the Lambda Literary Award and CBC Radio’s Canada Reads. The recipient of the Harbourfront Festival Prize for literary excellence, Helen Humphreys lives in Kingston, Ontario.

Check out an interview with Helen here and read her foreword for Scarborough Fair here.


Nino Ricci (2015)

Nino Ricci's first novel, Lives of the Saints, won the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, the SmithBooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the F.G. Bressani Prize and was made into a motion picture starring Sophia Loren. The novel was also a long-time national bestseller, and was followed by the highly acclaimed In a Glass House and Where She Has Gone, which was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His bestselling novel Testament won the Trillium Book Award. His most recent novel The Origin of Species received the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction and the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In total, his novels have appeared on 9 Best Book lists, including The New York Times and England’s Times Literary Supplement. He has been recognized with the Order of Canada for his contributions to literature as a renowned author. He lives in Toronto.

Check out an interview with Nino here and read his foreword for Scarborough Fair here.


Miriam Toews (2014)

Miriam Toews is the author of six bestselling novels: Summer of My Amazing Luck, A Boy of Good Breeding, A Complicated Kindness (Canada Reads 2006, Canada Reads Canadian Bestseller of the Decade 2010), The Flying Troutmans, Irma Voth, and Women Talking, and one work of non-fiction, Swing Low: A Life.  She is a winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Writers Trust Marian Engel/Timothy Findley Award. She lives in Toronto. 

Check out an interview with Miriam here.