We’ve rounded up resources that are available to all writers. We hope you find it helpful to explore more ways to celebrate your authentic voice and share your innate creative genius.
Piquant Press: Piquant Press publishes up to two books of poetry a year, with the long term goal of identifying and publishing “clever, daring” writers who make intimate statements about our society.
Brick Books: Brick Books publishes full-length poetry collections of the highest quality by both new and established writers. They encourage submissions from Indigenous poets, racialized poets, poets from LGBTQ+ communities, and poets with disabilities.
Talon Books: Talon’s mission is to publish work of the highest literary merit by world class authors from the mainstream and the margins of Canada’s three founding nations, as well as from both visible and invisible minorities within Canada’s cultural mosaic.
Agora Publishing: Agora makes book publishing accessible to all writers across Canada and internationally. This includes university and community college professors as well as teachers who seek to self-publish books for their courses. Agora is a not-for-profit corporation that was founded in 1997.
Resources for Writers
Quick Brown Fox: A monthly newsletter full of helpful information for writers created by Brian Henry, a book editor, writer and creative writing instructor at Ryerson University.
Contact: [email protected]
Submissions and Contests
Canadian Writers’ Contest Calendar (Book): Each edition contains approximately 80 pages of detailed information on Canadian writing contests, awards and prizes, organized month by month according to their deadline dates.
Voice and Vessel Writing Studio: Voice & Vessel offers online writing workshops, coaching, and other support for creative practice. They have a spreadsheet for finding opportunities and tracking your submissions.
Dreamers Magazine: A publication dedicated to “writing from the heart.” They accept submissions and host a wide variety of contests.
Pottersfield Press: Pottersfield specializes in books about Atlantic Canada but also publishes a wide range of fiction and nonfiction titles. They have a yearly contest for writers who can provide a manuscript of 30,000 to 150,000 words, covering a wide variety of categories that use the nonfiction medium to tell a story or put forward an idea.
Open Minds Quarterly: Open Minds Quarterly is a literary journal that features explorations of life in a mad world. More specifically, it welcomes writing and art from people with lived experience of what is variously called mental health challenges, mental illness, madness, neurodiversity etc.
Globe and Mail: The daily First Person essay is a great forum for you to share your own experiences, viewpoints and writing flair with other Globe readers. The Globe is looking for writers from all walks of life to submit.
The Writers Union of Canada: The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is the national organization of professionally published writers. They have a list of mentorship opportunities in the country:
Sister Writes: Participants receive mentorship from professional women writers and editors for the duration of The Writing Workshop program. Sister Writes is a creative writing and literacy program dedicated to honouring the wisdom and experiences of women in downtown Toronto.
Diaspora Dialogues: Diaspora Dialogues has a variety of long form and short form mentorships. They support voices from Canada’s diverse communities with their one-on-one programs. In honour of Black History Month in February, they launched a Black Playwrights Mentoring Program that matches four emerging playwrights with four of Canada’s top dramaturges to develop their first full-length play for mainstage production.
Black Playwrights Mentoring Program: https://diasporadialogues.com/
The Toronto Writers Collective is pleased to announce that the Azrieli Foundation has generously committed new multi-year funding, totaling $115,000 for the next two years, to continue to scale the impact of the TWC, Canada’s largest and fastest growing community-based creative writing program. The support from the Azrieli Foundation follows their initial multi-year funding that has propelled the TWC’s growth more than threefold since 2018.
In March 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the TWC started hosting online workshops, forging new connections and bridging isolation for writers across the GTA, the country and beyond. With an additional $5,000 of emergency Covid-19 funding from the Azrieli Foundation in May, the Toronto Writers Collective successfully pivoted to meet the challenges by using technology to bridge the gap between writers and workshops.
The TWC and its online presence continues to grow in an uncertain time, when the personal connection our programs provide has become an essential service. Thanks in large part to the Azrieli Foundation, we’ve been able to meet demand and expand our workshops to those on the front lines of the pandemic. Since the TWC went virtual on March 30, we have facilitated more than 400 online workshops reaching over 800 writers, building resilience in the communities we serve.
For over 30 years, the Azrieli Foundation has funded institutions as well as operated programs in Canada and in Israel. It invests in multiple priority areas, with the common thread of education running throughout its funding. The Foundation supports Holocaust education, scientific and medical research, higher education, youth empowerment and school perseverance, music and the arts, architecture and quality of life initiatives for people with developmental disabilities. Visit www.azrielifoundation.org for more information.
The Toronto Writers Collective gives voice to those who are unheard by building community and connection through deep listening and storytelling. Writing together, we create an inclusive society that honours the lives of all its citizens. Our workshops are targeted toward the communities we serve, including (but not limited to) Indigenous people, the homeless and under-housed, immigrants and refugees, seniors and the 2SLGBTQ+ communities. We believe everyone is a writer. Visit www.torontowriterscollective.ca for more information.
Outreach and Communications Coordinator
Toronto Writers Collective
Uptake of the Toronto Writers Collective has been swift here in Ottawa since its inception early last year. Enthusiasts made their way out through ice and snow to attend the very first Ottawa-based TWC training weekend in late January 2020. Thanks to on-the-ground promotion by Mood Disorders Ottawa (MDO), so many people applied that TWC allowed more participants than usual: a full 14 trainees completed the weekend successfully.
The training inspired participants to find their own voice and to help others find theirs. Reflecting on my experience, I wrote that “over the weekend I experienced my writer’s voice as an ally that I had not been aware of. I watched others discover that ally as well: we moved from insecure, apologetic writers to confident, full-voiced ones.” On Saturday some trainees expressed insecurities about their abilities to lead workshops but by Sunday all declared themselves ready to go.
Fired up despite the dreariness of mid-winter Ottawa, many of us started facilitating a few days or weeks later. By the end of February three TWC workshops were meeting weekly, at Mood Disorders Ottawa (MDO) in Vanier, at the Centretown Community Health Centre and at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre. Amazingly, all of these workshops transitioned smoothly online within weeks of the mid-March lockdown caused by Covid 19. By early April, three Ottawa-based workshops were providing much-needed social and creative interaction through Zoom thanks to support from TWC headquarters and enthusiasm on the ground.
Our Sandy Hill Community Health Centre sessions were inspiring from the start. The first person to read their writing during the first session wrote a piece of such lyric beauty that she teared up after reading, saying “I didn’t think I had it in me.”
After a break in the summer, the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre offered a Tuesday afternoon Zoom TWC group from September 22 to December 8th,.Evaluations were very positive, with the majority of participants saying that they were very satisfied with the program and that it improved their sense of well-being. Comments included: “enjoyed meeting new people full of ideas and ready to exchange writings,” “I was losing my capacity to communicate with different people, and it helped me to reopen my empathy for others and confidence in myself” and “I feel alive in the group and more hopeful overall.” Co-facilitators, Julie and Janet will be leading the group again for another 10-week session starting on January 11th. To register or for more information please contact [email protected]
The MDO group continued to meet on Monday night from 6:30 to 8:30 throughout the summer and fall, with participants logging in from visits as far away as Halifax and Manitoulin Island.
Sheila, co-facilitator of the MDO Monday evening workshops and creator of an MDO journaling group called Jot-a-Lot and, reflected that “the Writer’s Collective has changed my writing to be more positive, it helped me find new perspectives.” Now, she says, she can still write about difficult experiences in her journal but end on a positive note. “That’s made a huge difference for me in my day to day life,” she says.
Sharon, her co-facilitator and the initiator of the Tell Your Story group at MDO, says that she looks forward to facilitating TWC every week. “TWC has provided me with an opportunity to express myself on a different level and relate in a new way to others and myself” she says. “I never would have imagined that I could write the things I have written and it’s awesome to witness the growth in the writing and the personal growth of the participants.”
After a brief break for Labour Day, MDO carried on their popular Zoom TWC workshops through to December 14th. There were often more than fifteen participants, making it necessary to create breakout rooms. An additional facilitator, Basil, joined the team after obtaining TWC training in October. The workshops will resume on January 11. If you would like to join please contact [email protected] with subject line “Interested in TWC.”
Trudy, co-facilitator of the Centretown workshop on Tuesday mornings with Carrie, was inspired by the community that quickly developed through the workshops.
“It was a joy to feel the diverse group of nine participants coming closer and closer together over several weeks,” she said. “They are not only awesome writers but insightful and encouraging commentators on each other’s work.”
The Centretown Community Health Centre workshops took a summer break then in the fall offered an 8-week session and one “pop-up” workshop. The workshops were very well attended and received a lot of positive feedback says coordinator Natasha Beaudin, adding that facilitators Carmel and Carrie “are doing a great job.” The next eight-week daytime session starts through Zoom on January 8th. Please contact [email protected] if you are interested.
The TWC has now received a grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation to add further training and workshops in Ottawa. Early in the New Year there will be another Zoom-based facilitator training opportunity, for which Julie of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre is actively recruiting bilingual volunteers. The Centre hopes to offer a French-language TWC workshop in Spring 2021. If you are bilingual and interested in facilitating, please contact [email protected].
Ottawa expects to continue to play a leading role in expanding the TWC beyond the GTA. The Toronto Writers Collective is definitely going to have to change their name soon!
We look forward to welcoming to our growing Writers Collective of Canada community in Ottawa.
As part of a new TWC initiative for people with disabilities, Deaf Spectrum and the Toronto Writers Collective partnered up for a pilot accessible writing series for the Deaf Community.
Two sessions offered American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation services and all four of the sessions included closed captioning. During this interactive workshop, writing prompts were given through a phrase or an image as an inspiration.
As Carrie, who cofacilitated the workshops, shared, “I first joined TWC during a facilitator training workshop and then joined as a writer as well. I love the format of TWC workshops with poems, quotes and prompts. The challenge of reading what I wrote was scary, but the feedback is always positive.
Reading what I wrote became easier and healing actually occurred with some of my writings. Hearing other’s stories and feedback was hard as I have hearing loss and read lips. My hope is that the pilot project enables more participants to join. It is not as stressful now that I can use the captions!”
Sage Lovell added, “As a Deaf person experiencing systematic barriers, it is rare to find an
opportunity for a workshop that offers ASL interpretation and closed captioning. I was fortunate to engage in this space where we were able to witness each other’s writing. In these sessions, you are not expected to write a certain way. You could write a song, rant, mantra, poem, memoir, or a story – whatever style that suits you. It was really wonderful to share space with other Deaf writers who can relate to lived experiences of being Deaf.
The beauty of writing – is that it is not limited to spoken language or text language – you can “write” pieces through sign language or through art. Here’s a piece in English that I wrote during one of the writing workshops:”
By Sage Lovell
Tells us about
Once upon a time
Tells us stories
That we only
Of the lessons
That we learned
A special thank you to Toronto Writers Collective for sponsoring the writing workshop series to cover ASL interpretation and closed captioning.
We hope to continue working with Deaf Spectrum and other organizations to develop funding opportunities to establish and expand upon this initiative.