BIPOC Writers Connect: Facilitating Mentorship, Creating Community is a virtual conference for Black, Indigenous, and racialized emerging writers to connect with industry professionals, established authors, and fellow emerging writers — all in one place! Presented by The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC) and the League of Canadian Poets (LCP). TWUC and LCP are committed to cultivating space where BIPOC writers can share tools, strategies, feedback, and knowledge.

This virtual one-day event includes:

  • one-on-one time for feedback with a professional writer who has reviewed your work in advance;
  • workshop on query letter-writing;
  • industry panel discussion;
  • plenty of networking opportunities.

BIPOC Writers Connect is a free event, with no application fees, but advance application is required. We welcome applications from emerging writers across Canada. Applications are open until July 15, 2024 at 11:59 pm PDT. Successful applicants will be notified by September 2024. This year's conference takes place on October 17, 2024 on Zoom. Read on for more details.

Eligibility

Open to Black, Indigenous, and racialized writers in Canada who have a minimum of one published piece of writing (e.g., an article or short story in an online newspaper, school paper, or magazine), and who currently have a work-in-progress (10-20 pages of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, YA, or children's writing) to submit for manuscript evaluation. Writers who have one or more full-length published book (traditional or self-published) or contract offer, and staff of The Writers' Union of Canada or the League of Canadian Poets are not eligible to apply. Previous BIPOC Writers Connect mentees are not eligible to reapply. Applicants must be 18 or older by application deadline.

Land Acknowledgement

BIPOC Writers Connect is hosted by TWUC and the LCP, whose staff are based in Tkaronto, a Mohawk word which translates to “Where The Trees Meet The Water,” or “The Gathering Place.” Tkaronto is bound by Dish With One Spoon, a treaty between the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee to share the territory, promote peace and protect the land. We acknowledge them and any other Nations who care for the land — recorded and unrecorded — and we pay our respects to Canada’s first storytellers.

Important Dates

Applications close: July 15, 2024

Successful applicants notified: September 2024

Conference: October 17, 2024

 

PROGRAM

Icebreakers

Mentees will convene for moderated icebreakers to freely share writing challenges, conference goals, and tips for success. 

Manuscript Evaluation & Mentorship

Each successful applicant will be paired with a professionally published Black, Indigenous, or racialized writer, who will have an opportunity to read 10-20 pages of their submitted work-in-progress in advance of the virtual conference. At BIPOC Writers Connect, writers take part in a one-on-one discussion with their mentor for feedback on their submitted work-in-progress.

Query Writing Intensive

In this workshop, attendees will be provided with tips and tricks for writing a compelling query letter to a publisher or literary agent.

Virtual Networking

Connect with writers and industry professionals from across the country during facilitated networking sessions throughout the conference. This is always a highlight for BIPOC Writers Connect participants!

Closing Panel with Industry Professionals

Join us for a closing panel, featuring literary industry professionals and a moderated discussion on some of the challenges, pressures, and opportunities that come with immersing oneself in the world of writing.

Applications

BIPOC Writers Connect is a free event, but advance application is required. Applications are open until July 15, 2024 at 11:59 pm PDT. Successful applicants will be notified by September 2024. If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Program Manager, Kristina Cuenca at kcuenca@writersunion.ca.

Accessibility & Accommodations

This event was created in response to the unique barriers faced by Black, Indigenous, and racialized emerging writers navigating the literary industry. TWUC recognizes that various historic and structural inequities, due to discrimination based on age, class, cultural or linguistic background, disability, economic status, gender, gender identity, race, religion, and sexual orientation have created barriers to access and, consequently, equity measures are required to promote full participation in Canada’s literary industry. In doing so, we have the opportunity to create more space for Canadian writers and writing. TWUC continues to consult widely on equitable terminology. We continue to prioritize equitable and responsive programming for the writing community.

BIPOC Writers Connect is hosted on Zoom. The conference will be automatically live captioned, with live transcription enabled. The Union has set aside funding to accommodate tech rentals for participants who may require support. To encourage full participation, all attendees have been offered a tech subsidy upon request. ​Learn more about accessibility at the Union. 

Mentors

Photo of Darby Minott Bradford

Darby Minott Bradford is a hybrid form writer and translator based in Tio'tia:ke (Montreal). They are the author of the Dream of No One but Myself (Brick Books, 2021), which won the A.M. Klein QWF Prize for Poetry, and was a finalist for, among others, the Griffin Poetry Prize and Governor General Literary Awards. Their most recent book of poetry, Bottom Rail on Top, was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award.

Photo: Sarah Bodri.

 

Photo of Kern Carter

Kern Carter, based in Toronto, is an author, educator, and mentor celebrated for his captivating storytelling. With three books published and two more on the horizon for 2024, Kern has garnered critical acclaim and a devoted following. Beyond his writing, he champions emerging talent by creating online platforms that provide a supportive space for new writers to share their work and connect. Through partnerships with various organizations, he amplifies the voices of countless writers who may not have had the opportunity otherwise. Kern's dedication extends to teaching part-time at a local college and conducting workshops on writing craft and the business of being an author. Known for his engaging teaching style, he also offers personalized mentorship to aspiring writers, guiding them through skill development, craft refinement, and publishing challenges.

 

Photo of H Felix Chau Bradley

H Felix Chau Bradley is the author of Personal Attention Roleplay (Metonymy Press), which was a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Kobo Rakuten Emerging Writer Prize. Their writing has appeared in carte blanche, ESPACE art actuel, the Humber Literary Review, Maisonneuve Magazine, the Montreal Review of Books, PRISM International, Weird Era, Xtra, and elsewhere. They live in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal), and work as an editor for Metonymy Press and This Magazine.

 

Photo of Francine Cunningham

Francine Cunningham is an award-winning writer, artist, and educator who is a member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation, and is also Métis, and has settler family roots stretching from as far away as Ireland and Belgium. Her debut book of poems On/Me (Caitlin Press) was nominated for the BC and Yukon Book Prize, the Indigenous Voices Award, and the Vancouver Book Award. Her debut book of short stories God Isn’t Here Today (Invisible Publishing) is out now and was longlisted for the inaugural Carol Shield’s Prize for Fiction, was a finalist for the 2023 Indigenous Voices Award, and won the 2023 ReLit award. Her first children’s book What if bedtime didn’t exist (Annick Press) is out now and was selected as one of the 2024 TD Summer Reads Program books. She was also the 2023/2024 Writer in Residence at the University of Calgary.

 

Photo of Angel Di Zhang

Angel Di Zhang was born in northeast China, and raised in China, England, Canada, and the United States. She was educated in the joint BA-MIA program at Columbia University, and is a painter and an internationally exhibited fine art photographer. Her debut novel, The Light of Eternal Spring, published with Random House Canada in 2023. She is the founder and host of the Angel Reading Series which showcases authors who have a recent or forthcoming book. Angel lives in a secret garden floating above Toronto.

 

Photo of Antonio Michael Downing

Antonio Michael Downing was born in Trinidad and was also raised in Toronto, Kitchener, and Brooklyn. He is an author and performance artist. His memoir Saga Boy was shortlisted for the 2021 Speakers Book Award and Toronto Book Award. He was recognized by the Taylor Prize for Non-fiction as one of Canada's strongest Emerging Authors. His debut children's book Stars in My Crown (Tundra Books) will be available in Summer 2024. His debut novel Black Cherokee will be released by Simon & Schuster in North America in 2025. He writes and performs music as John Orpheus.

 

Photo of Derek Mascarenhas

Derek Mascarenhas’s short story collection, Coconut Dreams, was called a "stunning debut" in Quill and Quire's starred review and The Globe and Mail named it one of the best reads from Canadian small presses. Derek’s first picture book, 100 Chapatis, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as “warm and reassuring,” and his second, The Mango Monster, arrives September 2024. Derek is also working on a speculative novel, and currently teaches at the University of Toronto SCS.

 

Photo of Danny Ramadan

Danny Ramadan is a Syrian-Canadian author and LGBTQ-refugees advocate. His novels, The Clothesline Swing (Nightwood - 2017) and The Foghorn Echoes (Penguin - 2022) continue to receive accolades. His award-winning children’s series The Salma Books is released by AnnickPress. It includes picture book Salma the Syrian Chef (2020), and early chapters books Salma Makes a Home and Salma Writes a Book (2023). He released his memoir Crooked Teeth (Penguin) in 2024. His short stories and essays have appeared in publications across North America and Europe. Since his arrival to Canada, Ramadan has raised over $300,000 for LGBTQ+ identifying refugees.

 

Photo of Zenia Wadhwani

Zenia Wadhwani is the author of Once Upon A Sari and ‘Twas the Night Before Diwali, stories inspired by her daughter and a desire to see greater diversity in children’s literature. Not surprisingly, she is a lover of books, an advocate for literacy and a promoter of emerging writers. Zenia’s days are spent working on matters related to equity and inclusion. She lives in Toronto with her family.

 

Additional mentors will be announced soon. Stay tuned!

Back to program.

Presenters

Photo of Amanda Ferreira

Amanda Ferreira is an editor with Random House Canada. She primarily edits adult commercial fiction, and is drawn to books with an early hook and YA crossover appeal. She acquires in every genre (except horror), with a special interest in fantasy, romance, and mystery. In particular, she strives to amplify BIPOC and LGBTQ+ voices. Recent releases by her authors include Knives, Seasoning, and a Dash of Love by Katrina Kwan, A Sweet Sting of Salt by Rose Sutherland, and The Sins on Their Bones by Laura R. Samotin.

 

Additional presenters and moderators will be announced soon. Stay tuned!

Back to program.

Co-Presented by

The Writers' Union of Canada logo

League of Canadian Poets logo

 

Sponsored by

 

Penguin Random House Canada logo

 

 

 

Writers' Trust of Canada logo

 

 

Kids Can Press logo

 

 

Additional sponsors will be announced soon. Stay tuned!

Supported by

BIPOC Writers Connect: Facilitating Mentorship, Creating Community is presented by The Writers’ Union of Canada and the League of Canadian Poets. This event is funded by Presenting Sponsor Penguin Random House Canada, as well as The Writers’ Trust of Canada, and Kids Can Press. Our thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Government of Ontario, and all the funders, sponsors, and donors who support our work on behalf of all writers.