Steven Heighton – UPEI Writer-in-residence

This winter’s UPEI Writer-in-Residence will be Steven Heighton, award-winning novelist, poet, short-story writer, and essayist. He will give a public reading on Tuesday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m., and will lead two writing workshops (described below) on Saturday, February 10. Both events will be in the UPEI Main Building, Faculty Lounge.

Raised in Toronto and northern Ontario, Heighton travelled and worked in western Canada, Australia, and Asia, studied at Queen’s University, and settled in Kingston, Ontario, where he writes full-time. His distinctions include several National Magazine Award gold medals for fiction and poetry, and the 2016 Governor General’s Award for Poetry for The Waking Comes Late. He has been writer-in-residence at several universities, and has led writing workshops in diverse settings including The Banff Centre, the Sage Hill Writing Experience in Saskatchewan, and the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Heighton’s novels take us from castaway Arctic explorers in the 1870s, to a Greek-Canadian soldier traumatized in Afghanistan and shipped to Cyprus for stress leave and therapy, to high adventure in Nepal and China with Tibetan refugees, Chinese soldiers, a Canadian humanitarian doctor, an egotistical mountaineer, and an Asian-Canadian film-maker.

His morning workshop (9:30-12:00) will feature “re-enactive” techniques that allow writers, says Heighton, “to create sentences or passages of great vividness and sensual intensity. To work – re-enactively is to embody  – in the full sensory meaning of that word – whatever you’re writing about, rather than just describing it.”

In the afternoon workshop (1:30-4:00), writers will practice “homophonic translation.” This exercise involves “translating” from a language participants don’t know, just on the basis of sound. “The results,” says Heighton, “are always funny and often spectacularly good – and sometimes also moving. The process is a wonderful way to make writers approach their work with greater acoustical/musical sensitivity rather than simply, flatly saying something about how they feel.”

The workshop fees are $40 per workshop or $35 for seniors and students, and $70 for both workshops or $60 for seniors and students. To register, visit the Winter’s Tales Facebook site and click on the link for the Steven Heighton Writer in Residence workshops.

Steven Heighton’s visit and the UPEI Writer-in-Residency are sponsored by the Dean of Arts, the Vice-President Academic/Research, and the English Department, with generous support from The Canada Council for the Arts.