The Essay: Political Fuel

Moderator: Mandy Len Catron

Event Number: 74

Free (Pay What You Can)
Thanks to the support of the Y.P. Heung Foundation, Government of British Columbia and Raincoast Books.

The Essay: Political Fuel

Saturday, Oct 26
The Revue Stage

1601 Johnston Street

Join three preeminent, award-winning essayists as they investigate the possibilities of words to empower and fuel political action—at a moment when it’s most urgently needed. Journalist and author Lauren Markham (The Far Away Brothers) covers today’s social imperatives, including criminalization of young immigrants, girl gangs in El Salvador and climate change displacement. Alicia Elliott (A Mind Spread Out on the Ground) writes boldly to Indigeneity and North America’s legacy of racism and colonialism. In the wake of the 2016 election, John Freeman was forced to reconsider the power of writing. His new collection, Dictionary of the Undoing, is grounded in the words that feel most necessary for our times, a sharp reconsideration of how we can engage the public sphere through language.

About the moderator:
Mandy Len Catron‘s writing can be found in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and The Rumpus, among many others. She is the author of How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays, which was listed for the 2018 RCB Taylor Prize and the Kobo Emerging Writer Award. She teaches in the University of British Columbia’s Optional Residency MFA program.

Event Participants:

Alicia Elliott


Alicia Elliott is a Tuscarora writer from Six Nations of the Grand River living in Brantford, Ontario, with her husband and child. Her writing has been published by The Malahat Review, The Butter, Room, Grain, The New Quarterly, CBC, The Globe and Mail, Vice, Maclean’s, Today’s Parent and Reader’s Digest, among others. She’s currently Creative Nonfiction Editor at The Fiddlehead, Associate Nonfiction Editor at Little Fiction | Big Truths, and a consulting editor with The New Quarterly. Her essay, “A Mind Spread Out on the Ground” won Gold at the National Magazine Awards in 2017, and another of her essays, “On Seeing and Being Seen: Writing With Empathy” was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2018. She was the 2017-2018 Geoffrey and Margaret Andrew Fellow at UBC, and was chosen by Tanya Talaga to receive the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Prize in 2018. Her short story “Unearth” has been selected by Roxane Gay to appear in Best American Short Stories 2018. Alicia is also presently working on a manuscript of short fiction.

John Freeman

John Freeman


John Freeman is a literary critic and writer. He was the editor of Granta and his work has appeared in The New YorkerThe New York Times and The Paris Review. His writing has appeared in almost 200 English-language publications around the world and has been translated into more than twenty languages. His latest publications are Freeman’s: California, featuring Golden State authors writing on issues from immigration rights to climate change, and Dictionary of the Undoing, a collection of essays that redefine what it means to be a literary citizen.

Lauren Markham


Lauren Markham is a writer focusing on issues related to youth, migration, the environment, and her home state of California. Her work has appeared in outlets such as Guernica, Harper’s, Orion, The New York Times and VQR, where she is a Contributing Editor. Markham is the author of the award-winning book, The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life, which has recently been adapted for Young Adult readers., @LaurenMarkham_