UPEI Winter’s Tales Reading Series Presents Don McKay: Poet and Naturalist at Beaconsfield

Don McKay has been called the Canadian poet laureate of ecological philosophy. A revered poet, esteemed naturalist, and distinguished scholar, editor, and teacher, McKay will give a poetry reading on Friday, March 2, at 7:00 in the Carriage House at Beaconsfield Historic House in Charlottetown.

Island-born poet Zach Wells says that “awe, astonishment and wonder” arethe keynotes of McKay’s poems and that “the workings of the human mind” are his primary subject matter. Halifax poet Brian Bartlett describes McKay as “a poet with a patient eye, an acute arresting ear, over flowing with details of ornithology, botany, weather, industry, books and music… philosophical phrasing, folksy idiom, madcap humour and elegy.”

McKay’s numerous awards include the Order of Canada, two Governor General’s Awards for poetry, and the Griffin Poetry Prize. A co-founder of Brick Books, one of North America’s premier poetry publishers, he has been a master editor for many of Canada’s finest authors. Considered the father figure of ecological poetry in Canada, his essays on poetics and “eco-poetry” are illuminating guides for poets, naturalists, and other readers.

A beloved teacher of creative writing and literature at the University of Western Ontario, the University of New Brunswick, and The Banff Centre for the Arts, he now writes full-time in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

His reading is sponsored by the UPEI Dean of Arts and English Department, with support from The Canada Council for the Arts. The public is invited and admission is free.

UPEI Don Mazer Arts & Science Lecture Dr. Don Mckay: Poet & Naturalist

Dr. Don McKay has been called the Canadian poet laureate of ecological philosophy. A revered poet, esteemed naturalist, distinguished scholar and editor, celebrated teacher, and famously witty speaker, Dr. McKay will give the 2018 UPEI Don Mazer Arts & Science Lecture on Thursday, March 1, at 7:00 at UPEI in McDougall Hall, room 246.

Don McKay’s talk, “Dragon, or Tectonic Lithofacies Map of the Appalachian Orogen,” will be, says McKay, “an attempt to approach one of the most famous and important maps in geology from both sides of my brain, the scientific and aesthetic.”

By Shipguy – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8381387

The Appalachian orogenic belt is an ancient mountain range extending from Alabama to Newfoundland. Dr. McKay, who lives in St. John’s, will talk “poetically” about the tectonic theory of mountain building, and focus on Gros Morne in Newfoundland, with reference to New Brunswick, and to PEI with its “detritus from worn-down mountains.”

Hank Williams will feature prominently in Dr. McKay’s talk: not the singer, but the legendary and colourful Newfoundland geologist. Williams advanced plate tectonics as a unifying theory for continental drift and mountain belt evolution, inspired a new generation of geologists, and helped establish Memorial University as a leader in earth science research.

An expert map-maker as well as visionary thinker, Williams produced the famous Appalachian Orogen map, a best seller with 10,000 copies sold worldwide. The map also helped demonstrate relationships between our landforms and those across the Atlantic Ocean.

Dr. McKay’s lecture is sponsored by the UPEI Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Science. The lecture series is named in honour of Dr. Don Mazer, an esteemed UPEI Psychology professor, whose interests have bridged the Arts and Sciences. The public is invited and admission is free.

The Writers’ Union of Canada Launches 25th Annual Short Prose Competition for Emerging Writers

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is pleased to launch its 25th Annual Short Prose Competition for Emerging Writers, which invites Canadian writers to submit a piece of fiction or nonfiction of up to 2,500 words in the English language that has not previously been published in any format. A $2,500 prize will be awarded to the winner, and the entries of the winner and finalists will be submitted to three Canadian magazines for consideration. The deadline for entries is February 15, 2018.

The Union initiated the Short Prose Competition in 1993 in honour of its 20th anniversary. The Competition aims to discover, encourage, and promote new writers of short prose. “Over its twenty-five-year history, the Short Prose Competition has served as a springboard to a successful writing career,” notes Executive Director John Degen. “A number of winners and finalists have gone on to publish many books and join the Union’s ranks.”

The Competition is open to Canadian citizens and residents who have had no more than one book published and who do not currently have a contract with a book publisher for a second book. Authors not published in book format are also eligible. Members of TWUC are not eligible to enter. The entry fee is $29 per submission, and submissions are accepted online until 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on February 15, 2018. The winner will be announced in late spring 2018. For complete rules and regulations, please go to www.writersunion.ca/short-prose-competition.

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.

PEI Writers’ Guild Open Mic Series – Featuring Grant Matheson

Grant Matheson will be the featured reader at the PEI Writers’ Guild open mic on Thursday, February 8 at 7 p.m. at Receiver Coffee Co., 128 Richmond St., in Charlottetown.

All are welcome to this free event. The first ten writers to sign up may read from their work–poetry or prose–for up to 5 minutes. Following a short break to enjoy some of Receiver Coffee’s delicious offerings, Grant will read.

Grant Matheson is a non-practicing family physician, and father of three who has been in recovery from narcotic addiction since 2005. He practiced both in Montague and Charlottetown during his years as a physician. He now writes about his struggles with opioid addiction in the hopes that he can help others who have loved ones who are struggling, or others who are struggling themselves. His memoir, The Golden Boy, was published by Nimbus Publishing in 2017.

The PEI Writers’ Guild Open Mic Series will continue to run on the second Thursday of each month.

Battle Tales III: WRITING PROMPTS!


Greetings all you heroic (and decidedly nice-looking) writers of PEI! Are you ready to partake in the third-ever Battle Tales short story contest? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Behold your writing prompts:

  1. An urgent message left in haste.
  2. A vivid memory evoked by a familiar scent.
  3. A conversation only partially heard.

Now remember: your story must include all three of these prompts. Beyond that, it’s up to you. Be creative. Take these prompts and build something lovely with them. Really give our judge the run for his money.

Maybe that urgent message was scrawled in lipstick on the back of a napkin, or perhaps those few words of conversation you heard had something to do with an old, jealous flame. And what was that smell? Did it remind you of your grandmother’s oatmeal bread? Or was it the aroma of old fish down by the docks? Who knows. It’s up to you to tell us.

Oh, don’t forget to checkout out the contest rules before you get started. We want a good, clean battle, after all. None of that guerrilla warfare stuff.

And while you’re here, check out this excellent advice to help guide your writing, prepared by our judge, Steven Mayoff.

Good luck, everyone. May the best literary gladiator win!

Battle Tales III: A Hot Tip From Our Judge

What makes a good Battle Tale? We asked Steven Mayoff, our esteemed Battle Tales judge, to share a few things he’s looking for in a submission. Here’s what he said:

“I will be judging the stories using the usual criteria of story and character development, language, etc. I will also be looking to see how creatively the three prompt words are integrated into the story, rather than just embedded so the story qualifies for the contest. Writers should also think about why this story is important to them. Give me a sense of it, not as an overt statement, but more imaginatively. Condense it to a single image or a situation or maybe as a bit of dialogue. Challenge yourselves and challenge me.”

Battle Tales III: Meet Your Judge!

Curious about who will be judging your totally-awesome, perfectly-standout submissions once the Battle Tales contest closes? Why, it’s none other than our Island-proud author and poet Steven Mayoff!

Steven Mayoff was born and raised in Montreal and moved to Prince Edward Island in 2001. His fiction and poetry have appeared in literary journals across Canada and the U.S. as well as in Ireland, Algeria, France, Wales, England and Croatia. He has written two books of fiction: the story collection Fatted Calf Blues (Turnstone Press, 2009) and the novel Our Lady Of Steerage (Bunim & Bannigan, 2015). Upcoming is a poetry collection Swinging Between Water And Stone to be published by Guernica Editions in 2019.

PEI Writers’ Guild Open Mic Series featuring Chuck Bowie


Chuck Bowie will be the featured reader at the PEI Writers’ Guild open mic on Thursday, January 11 at 7 p.m. at Receiver Coffee Co., 128 Richmond St., in Charlottetown.

All are welcome to this free event. The first ten writers to sign up may read from their work – poetry or prose – for 3 to 5 minutes. Following a short break to enjoy some of Receiver Coffee’s delicious offerings, Chuck will read.

Chuck Bowie graduated from the University of New Brunswick in Canada with a Bachelor Degree in Science. Originally from Miramichi, he continues to live on the East Coast of Canada. Growing up as an air force brat, his writing is influenced by the study of human nature and how people behave, habits he picked up as his family moved nineteen times in his first twenty one years. Chuck loves food, wine, music and travel and all play a role in his work.

His writing often draws upon elements of these experiences to round out his characters and plot lines. Chuck is involved in the world of music, supporting local musicians, occasionally playing with them and always celebrating their successes. Because he enjoys venting as much as the next fellow, Chuck will at times share his thoughts with a brief essay or blog, some of which can be found on his website.

He is working with his publisher to edit the fourth novel, entitled The Body On The Underwater Road, part of the suspense-thriller series Donovan: Thief For Hire. His newest published work is entitled Steal It All, and follows the books Three Wrongs and AMACAT.

The PEI Writers’ Guild Open Mic Series will continue to run on the second Thursday of each month.