Writer in Residence: Spring 2011

Maggie de Vries

Writer in Residence: Spring 2011
Gibsons, BC

Author Maggie de Vries completed her residency on the Sunshine Coast, where she spent a week inspiring and advising students from a grade 6/7 class at Gibson Elementary. Maggie explains that during her residency, by "helping the students create a life map, and (encouraging them to) draw as well as write: memories, life events, anything they could think of to get their thoughts and memories down," she was able to "show the kids that with research and a little stamina, we are all writers." Of her experience as a Writer in Residence, Maggie feels "the program is invaluable to school children, as it humanizes that sometimes distant author, (by turning them into a) working writer. And the students become working writers, too."

Maggie de Vries is a writer for children and adults, whose passion lies with writing, teaching and giving workshops.  As a writer and editor, she enjoys discussing where she gets the ideas for her own work, as well as the writing and editing process. Since 2003, de Vries has taught a graduate course in writing, publishing and the book trade in the Masters in Children’s Literature program at UBC. She also teaches Advanced Writing for Children in UBC’s Creative Writing Department.

De Vries work has received much acclaim, with her children’s book Tale of a Great White Fish receiving the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award and the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Book Award. Her memoir for adults, Missing Sarah, was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction and won the VanCity Book Prize, and the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in BC Literature.

"We thank the Vancouver International Writers Festival and the sponsors who have made it possible to bring Maggie de Vries into our community for a week-long residency.  The opportunity to have a writer like Maggie in our classrooms is such a privilege. We cannot overstate how grateful we are.This is a small community and I know that Maggie's work will have a rippling effect and touch many. School District No. 46 (SunshineCoast)works with a number of community partners to develop and deliver programming in schools to promote literacy and encourage students' development as writers, readers and storytellers. This residency feels like the best possible kind of reward and we are looking foward to a week of stories and writing, inspiration and creativity. We thank everyone who has made this possible."

Bev Craig
District No 46 Literacy Resource Teacher Celebration of Author Books and Children Committee Representative

Amazon.ca is committed to fostering the creation, discussion, and publication of books. A love of reading and an appreciation for people who create good books is integral to Amazon’s community involvement. Thanks to the support of Amazon.ca, the Vancouver International Writers Festival is able to offer an additional eight week mentorship between a student and author that have participated in the Writer in Residence program. 

The Vancouver International Writers Festival’s Spreading the Word Schools program offers two writer-in-residence programs each year to communities that cannot attend the festival because of geographic and/or economic limitations and is supported by Amazon and the Michael R. Shaw Outreach Fund.  This year as well, CABC (Celebration of Authors, Books and Children) is assisting with accommodation during the Writer in Residence stay.



Writer in Residence Mentorship: Grace Telfer

This year, one student from the class at Gibson Elementary was chosen to receive further mentorship from Maggie de Vries. Grace Telfer, 12, was delighted to be chosen as Maggie’s mentee in the program. Of her eight week mentorship working on her story Swept, Grace had this to say: “It's really in-depth. When we write stories in school, we write them, edit them in terms of grammar, then do a good copy. This is revising and editing on a one-on-one level. I've never worked on a story for this long and it’s improved my writing in little ways. I'm learning little tricks and things that help my writing."

Read Grace Telfer's story Swept.

Grace Telfer's mentorship was made possible by Amazon.ca