Melissa Barbeau is a writer, a knitter, and a founding member of the Port Authority Writing Group. She has been published in the Newfoundland Quarterly, the Cuffer Anthology, Memorial University’s literary journal Paragon, and in Breakwater Books’ anthology Racket. You can find her most days at St. Peter’s Junior High in Mount Pearl where she teaches English and Band. She lives in Torbay with a lovely fella and four pre-teens and teenagers and she is delighted to be to spending today with grown-ups. The Luminous Sea is her first novel.
Robert Chafe has worked in theatre, dance, opera, radio, fiction, and film. His plays have been seen in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. He has been shortlisted twice for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama and he won the award in 2010. He has been guest instructor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, and The National Theatre School of Canada. He is the playwright and Artistic Director of Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland.
Charis Cotter is a children’s author who draws inspiration from Newfoundland landscape and ghosts. The Ferryland Visitor: A mysterious tale, with artwork by Newfoundland artist Gerry Squires, tells the true story of a ghostly encounter. Her spooky, suspenseful novel, The Swallow: A Ghost Story, won the Violet Downey Book Award and The Painting won the Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Her most recent novel, The Ghost Road, was featured on the cover of Booklist Magazine.
Tom Dawe is a professor, visual artist, editor, writer, and poet. He has published over twenty-five books and has received numerous honours and awards, including the Canadian Authors' Association Poetry Award and The Bruneau Award for Children's Literature. He is the former Poet Laureate of St. John’s and is a Member of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Order of Canada.
Jenny Higgins is the award-winning author of two books. Perished: The 1914 Newfoundland Sealing Disaster (2014) won the Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing; Newfoundland in the First World War (2016) won the Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for Non-Fiction. Her first children’s book, Agnes Ayre’s ABCs of Amazing Women, will be released in 2019.
Born and raised in northern Saskatchewan, Harold R. Johnson has had a variety of careers: Canadian Navy, Logger, Miner, Fisher, Trapper, Heavy Equipment Operator, Mechanic, Tree Planter, Lawyer and Author. His has five fiction and three non-fiction, Two Families: Treaties and Government and The Cast Ston won a Saskatchewan Book Awards. And, Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (and yours) was shortlisted for a Governor General’s Award. Clifford is his most recent.
Born in Northern Ontario, Cara Kansala now calls Newfoundland home. A full-time visual artist, she co-created the well-known “Grumpy Goat Gallery” in 2006. Known for her colourful depictions of familiar Newfoundland sights such as frolicking laundry lines, icebergs and rural outport villages, Cara’s work is a recognizable fixture throughout the province. Cara is currently working on her second children’s book “The Moon Queen’s Dance”. She spends her time in her studios between Upper Island Cove and St. John’s where she lives with her partner Ailsa, two children, two cats, a dog named Gretel, and five minnows.
Irish writer Claire Keegan's debut collection of stories, Antarctica , was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year. In 2007, Walk the Blue Fields , was published to huge critical acclaim and won The Edge Hill Prize for the strongest collection published in The British Isles. Foster (2010) won The Davy Byrnes Award, then the world's richest prize for a short story. Keegan's stories are published by Faber & Faber, have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The Paris Review, Best American Stories and are translated into 17 languages.
Professor Emeritus Larry Mathews taught for 31 years in the English Department at Memorial University. His fiction publications include The Sandblasting Hall of Fame (stories, Oberon, 2003), The Artificial Newfoundlander (novel, Breakwater, 2010), An Exile’s Perfect Letter (novel, Breakwater, 2018).
Jim McEwen is from Dunrobin, ON. He has worked recently as a youth worker and a tree-planter. His short fiction has appeared in Riddle Fence and The Telegram. He is currently working on a creative thesis for his Master of Arts degree at Memorial University.
Robin McGrath is the author or editor of 15 books and has published more than 200 articles in magazines such as Canada's History, Inuit Art Quarterly, Fiddlehead and Room of One's Own. McGrath was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (2003) for Donovan's Station, the Geldert Medal (2004) for her article, "Simon Solomon: Newfoundland's First Postmaster," and the first annual Heritage and History Award (2004) for Donovan's Station. She is a member of The Writers' Union of Canada and the Letterset Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. She reviewed for The Telegram and has a monthly column in The North East Avalon Times. She now lives in Harbour Main, NL.
Michelle Porter is a poet, journalist, and writer based in Newfoundland and Labrador. She was selected for the Aboriginal Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Guelph and is working on a book on the topic of Métis mobilities. She has a PhD in Geography and is working toward an MA in Creative Writing at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her first book of poetry, Inquiries, will be published in the fall of 2019 by Breakwater Books.
John Steffler is the author of six books of poetry, including The Grey Islands, That Night We were Ravenous, and Lookout which was shortlisted for the 2011 Griffin Prize. His novel The Afterlife of George Cartwright won the Smithbooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. From 2006 to 2009 he served as Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada. His most recent book is a novel, German Mills.
Souvankham Thammavongsa is the author of four poetry books, Cluster (M&S, 2019), Light (2013), winner of the Trillium Book Award, Found (2007), and Small Arguments (2003), winner of the ReLit Award. Her writing has appeared in Harper’s, Granta, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and other places. She has been in residence at Yaddo and has performed her work at the Guggenheim Museum.
Katie Vautour is a visual artist and writer who has participated in residencies in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the Banff Centre. She exhibits her mixed media work at Eastern Edge and the Craft Council in Newfoundland, and in galleries throughout Atlantic Canada. As a writer, Katie has work published in a variety of literary journals. Selected awards include the Sparks Poetry Competition (first place, 2016), an Arts & Letters Award (2015), and the Cox & Palmer Creative Writing Award (2016). Katie's first book of poetry will be published by Breakwater in Spring 2019.
The SPARKS Literary Festival was founded in 2009 by poet and professor Mary Dalton, who served as the festival's director for the first 6 years. Now organized by Memorial's Department of English with ongoing support from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, SPARKS continues to celebrate the literary creations of Newfoundland and Labrador and showcase writers at various stages of their creative lives. It is what Dalton has called a "word spree." The festival also makes available displays of books and journals published in Newfoundland and Labrador and a mini-bookstore featuring works by the authors reading at the festival.