Whistler Writer in Residence program revives scholarships 

Hornby Island writer Cornelia Hoogland chosen to lead 2019 program

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Write On The Writer in Residence group poses for a photo during a workshop as part of last year’s program.
  • Photo submitted
  • Write On The Writer in Residence group poses for a photo during a workshop as part of last year’s program.

Stella Harvey has a hard time believing that 2019 will be the 13th year of the Writer in Residence program.

"It's unbelievable," says Harvey, artistic director for the Whistler Writing Society, which runs the program. "Where does the time go?"

The program has seen a huge uptick in applications since it first launched in 2007. Back then, they offered scholarships to cover the fee and ensure that a diverse range of writers were honing their voices. While that fell to the wayside with increased demand, they've decided to bring it back this year.

To that end, two of the 12 spots will be reserved for an equity scholarship program for writers of colour, as well as writers who are Indigenous, part of the LGBTQI2S community, or living with a disability.

"I've wanted to do it again and just haven't had the opportunity," Harvey says. "For me, from Day 1 inclusivity was so important to me. Because the program is so popular, it sometimes has been difficult to hold a spot or two for scholarships. It fills up so quickly. What I wanted to do this year is draw a line in the sand. If (no one applies), those two spots are available to anybody else who applies."

Last Monday, June 24, the Whistler Writing Society announced that Cornelia Hoogland had been chosen as the 2019 Writer in Residence. The poet, fiction, and non-fiction writer is based on Hornby Island and has seven books to her name, among other accolades.

In September, she will move into the Alta Lake Artists Cabin where she will work on her own writing, and also mentor the 12 writers chosen as part of the program.

"I liked the fact that she's worked in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry," Harvey says. "In the past we've had a lot of interest from (poets). I wanted to blend that in somehow and Cornelia was the best fit for that because she brings expertise in all three to the table. It makes it a bit more inclusive."

While Hoogland will determine the format, the writer in residence hosts both individual meetings with the writers as well as group workshops over one to two months.

Writers need to have some experience and be working on a project so they can submit 20 pages by Aug. 16 for Hoogland to read.

"It can be the start of something and they're not sure where they're going to go with it," Harvey says. "It can be as easy as the first chapter or some idea of a short story that you're working on. In this particular program, it's for emerging and experienced writers. It's to get feedback and to have feedback, you have to have some writing done."

Overall, the program has had an overwhelmingly positive response from participants, with some even going on to form writers groups afterwards.

"A lot of times you don't get that editorial support with fresh eyes looking at your work and giving you some perspective," Harvey says. "You get so close to something, you don't know how to proceed. That kind of feedback that we get ... is invaluable and the time with fresh eyes is also invaluable."

The program is chosen on a first-come, first-served basis. Writers should email Harvey at writers@whistlerwritersfest.com expressing their interest as soon as possible. The cost is $350 and there will be a waitlist after the initial spots are filled.

The deadline for the scholarship is Aug. 1.

For more information visit whistlerwritersfest.com.

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