Sonja Boon is an award-winning researcher, writer, teacher, and professor of Gender Studies at Memorial University. She has published widely in life writing, autoethnography, and feminist theory. For six years, she was principal flutist with the Portland Baroque Orchestra, and she has also appeared as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician with the Toronto Symphony, Hallé Orchestra, and Holland Festival of Early Music, among others. What the Oceans Remember is her fourth book.
Anne Budgell worked for CBC for 35 years in Newfoundland and Labrador. She was the first woman to host “The Fisherman’s Broadcast.” On television, she anchored “Here and Now,” “On Camera,” and produced and hosted “Radio Noon” for 12 years. Her book Dear Everybody came out in 2013. Her new book, We All Expected To Die, Spanish Influenza in Labrador, 1918-1919, won this year’s Peter Cashin Prize from MUN’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Mark Callanan was a founding editor of the St. John’s-based literary journal Riddle Fence, and a co-editor of The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry (Breakwater Books, 2013). He currently hosts the yearly North Atlantic Poetry Series, which features readings by visiting Irish—and local—poets. He lives in St. John’s with poet-critic Andreae Callanan and their four children.
Xaiver Campbell is a Jamaican-born come-from-away and, for the past 11 years, a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador. His writing explores a passion for telling stories about both his native land and his adopted home. That passion is what fuelled his short fiction piece, "Unda di Naseberry Tree," which explores themes of LGBTQ2+, immigration, and cultural integration and adaptation. He is an explorer of creative writing and is open to wherever his writing takes him.
MEGAN GAIL COLES is a graduate of Memorial University and the National Theatre School of Canada, and she has recently completed a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia. She has written and produced numerous plays. Her first fiction collection, Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome, won the BMO Winterset Award, the ReLit Award, and the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, and it earned her the one-time Writers’ Trust 5x5 prize. Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, her debut novel, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Originally from Savage Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, Megan currently resides in Montreal, where she is a Ph.D. candidate at Concordia University.
Patrick Cotter lives in Cork, Ireland. He has published a number of chapbooks and two full-length collections. Recent poems have appeared in The Financial Times, The London Review of Books, Poetry, Poetry Review, and elsewhere. His third collection, Sonic White Poise, is due from the Dedalus Press, Dublin in 2021. He is a recipient of the Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry. www.patrickcotter.ie
Poet Laureate of the City of St. John’s and Professor Emerita of English at Memorial University, Mary Dalton is author of five books of poetry, among them Merrybegot, Red Ledger, and Hooking: A Book of Centos, as well as a prose collection, Edge. A chapbook, Waste Ground, appeared in 2017. She currently hosts a poetry podcast, Flahoolic, focusing on her poetry and on other poets of St. John’s. She’ll read from her new Alba poems.
From the Goulds, Terry Doyle won the 2017 Percy Janes First Novel Award, and was a finalist for the 2017 NLCU Fresh Fish Award. On April Fool’s Day 2019 his debut short story collection, DIG, was published by Breakwater Books. Terry’s work has appeared in Riddle Fence, untethered, Leopardskin & Limes, CBC, and the Newfoundland Quarterly. He is currently working on two novels.
Gemma Hickey is a passionate humanist whose activism has changed the legal landscape of Canada, expanding rights, equality, and dignity for the LGBTQ2+ community and raising awareness for survivors of clergy abuse. In 2012, Gemma was recognized with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for their contribution to human rights in Canada; and in 2016, Gemma was named a NL Human Rights Champion. Gemma is presently a Masters Candidate in Gender Studies at Memorial University. A contributor to various anthologies, Almost Feral is their first book.
Monica Kidd has written seven books; her fourth poetry collection, Chance Encounters with Wild Animals, was published by Gaspereau Press in 2019. Before going to medical school at Memorial, she worked as a reporter for CBC Radio in St. John’s, and before that, as a seabird biologist in Labrador. She works as a family physician, and has recently become co-publisher of Pedlar Press, dividing her time between St. John’s and Calgary.
Alexander MacLeod’s first collection of short stories, Light Lifting, was named a finalist for the Giller Prize, The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. The collection was also named a "Book of the Year" by the American Library Association, The Globe and Mail, Amazon.ca, and Quill and Quire. His most recent work, “Lagomorph,” won a 2019 O. Henry Prize, recognizing international excellence in the short story.
Trudy J. Morgan-Cole is a writer from St. John’s, NL. Her historical novels include By the Rivers of Brooklyn, the 2019 NL Reads winner Most Anything You Please, and A Roll of the Bones, the first of a trilogy of novels set in the Cupids colony. Trudy teaches English and social studies to adult learners at the Murphy Centre. She is married, is the mother of two talented young people, and owns a stunningly beautiful rescue dog.
Chris is a PhD student at MUN, who just completed a creative Master’s thesis under the supervision of Lisa Moore. His short stories have been published in The Cuffer Anthology and several U.S. anthologies. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society. He also wrote a short film, New Woman, which is currently playing at film festivals worldwide including a screening recently at the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival.
Michelle Porter is an award-winning journalist and poet. She is a citizen of the Métis Nation and member of the Manitoba Metis Federation. Her first book of poetry, Inquiries,was published in 2019. Her essay, Fireweed, was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize. She is the nonfiction editor with Riddle Fence, while studying creative writing and teaching journalism. In 2016 and 2017, her work was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize. She also won a Gold Atlantic Journalism Award in 2005 and the 2018 Arts and Letters competition for nonfiction. She currently lives in St. John’s.
Leslie Vryenhoek’s writing explores the landscape of intimate relationships, the uneven hand of fortune, and what it means to belong to a place and time. Her novel Ledger of the Open Hand was shortlisted for the Winterset Award, longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, and won a silver medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. We All Will Be Received (2019) is her second novel. Based in St. John’s, Leslie works internationally as a communications professional and editor.
Michael Winter has published short fiction, novels, and non-fiction. He has won the Winterset Prize, the CBC short story contest, and the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley award. His most recent book, Into the Blizzard, sets out to retrace the steps of the Newfoundland regiment during the first world war. It was nominated for the Charles Taylor Prize. Winter grew up in Newfoundland and now teaches creative writing in the Guelph MFA program. He lives in Toronto.
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.