University of Calgary

Distinguished Writers Program welcomes new writer-in-residence, celebrates 20th anniversary

UToday HomeAugust 30, 2013

By Caitlynn Cummings

Sara Tilley is the 2013-2014 Canadian Writer-in-Residence. At the Hello/Goodbye event on Sept. 13, she’ll read from her novel Skin Room. Sara Tilley is the 2013-2014 Canadian Writer-in-Residence. At the Hello/Goodbye event on Sept. 13, she’ll read from her novel Skin Room. The 2013-2014 season marks the 20th anniversary of a program that has become a mainstay in the literary communities of both Calgary and Canada. The University of Calgary’s Calgary Distinguished Writers Program began with a gala reading in 1993 by Distinguished Visiting Writer Michael Ondaatje, and its latest affair, the annual Hello/Goodbye event, will be held on Sept. 13, 2013, at the Arrata Opera Centre at 7:30 p.m.

This year’s Hello/Goodbye welcomes Newfoundland novelist, feminist playwright, poet, and theatre clown artist Sara Tilley as the 2013-2014 Canadian Writer-in-Residence, and celebrates the completion of Deborah Willis' CDWP residency.

A commemorative publication, Celebrating 20 Years of the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program, will also be launched at the event. The chapbook includes work from 11 former distinguished visiting writers and writers-in-residence, including Art Spiegelman, Marcello Di Cintio, and Natalee Caple.

Hello/Goodbye attendees should expect a reading from Sara Tilley from her novel Skin Room, which won both the Newfoundland and Labrador Percy Janes First Novel Award and the inaugural Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers. She also plans to read from her fascinating work-in-progress DUKE, which tells the first person story of her great grandfather.

Tilley wrote DUKE using the innovative Pochinko Clown Through Mask technique. This involved creating a mask of DUKE’s main character, which she wore while writing, allowing Tilley to “own” the character’s voice.

For her part, Willis may just end her writer-in-residence term by reading a piece that’s hot off the keyboard.

Hello/Goodbye is a chance for the community to bid adieu to a writer who has inspired them for a year, and to get introduced to the author who will captivate them with readings, help develop their manuscripts, and support Calgary’s literary community for another 10 months.

“I plan to spend my year completing the manuscript for my second novel, drafting a book of short stories, and maybe even a play as well,” says Tilley. “I'm keen to absorb life here and let it seep into me, so that, hopefully, by the end of my term, I can write a Calgary story that sounds authentic to Calgary.”

Tilley looks forward to meeting the writing and theatre communities in the city, conducting manuscript consultations, and delivering workshops on the use of mask in the writing process. To schedule a manuscript consultation with Tilley, visit

“This year has been productive, challenging, and happy for me as a writer,” says Willis. “I’ve never before had such a long stretch of time to focus on my work, and for this luxury I am incredibly grateful. I also found my public duties as writer-in-residence to be very fulfilling. I felt warmly welcomed this year, and want to extend my sincere thanks.”

On Friday the 13th, come say hello, goodbye, and happy birthday to the CDWP.

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