Bill Richardson, English Finals Host
Bill Richardson is a writer and broadcaster. He worked for many years for CBC Radio One and Two, producing and/or hosting such programs as “Richardson's Roundup,” “Bunny Watson,” and “Saturday Afternoon at the Opera.” His books include a collection of poems about the dubious joys of ageing, The First Little Bastard to Call me Gramps, as well as Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast, Waiting for Gertrude, and Scorned and Beloved: Dead of Winter Meetings with Canadian Eccentrics. Richardson’s latest children’s book, The Alphabet Thief, was recently published by Groundwood Books. He has worked as a writer/narrator with Quartetto Gelato, the Vancouver Summer Chamber Music Festival, Stratford Summer Music, and the CBC Radio Orchestra. He has been the recipient of the Leacock Medal for Humour, a National Magazine Award for fiction, various New York Festival prizes for radio documentaries, a Jessie Richardson Award, and the Silver Birch children's choice award in Ontario for his novel After Hamelin. He lives in Vancouver and in Holmfield, Manitoba, population 14.
Johanne Blais, French and Bilingual Finals Host
Johanne Blais is a word maven. She is a trained translator, as well as a professor of writing and grammar, and a public speaker. Perfectly bilingual and a passionate admirer of the languages of both Shakespeare and Molière, Johanne Blais spent 17 years sharing her passion each week with thousands of Canadians as CBC Radio C’est la vie’s “Word Lady,” through her language segment “Word of the Week.” Johanne Blais’s sparkle and humour combine with her gift for explaining words in their individual daily context. She teaches with great warmth and a smile in her voice. Her love for French has also led her to write engaging columns on the breadth and variety of French as it is spoken in Canada. Johanne Blais is one of Canada’s best-loved voices, listened to with pleasure across the country. She has been hosting our National Finals since 2013 and also serves on our board.
Jordan Abel is a Nisga'a writer from BC. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD at Simon Fraser University, where his research concentrates on the intersection between Digital Humanities and Indigenous Literary Studies. Abel’s creative work has recently been anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry (Tightrope), The Land We Are: Artists and Writers Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation (Arbiter Ring), and The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayword). Abel is the author of Injun (finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize 2017 (Canadian shortlist)), Un/inhabited, and The Place of Scraps (winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award).
Joanne Arnott is a Métis/mixed-blood writer and arts activist, originally from Manitoba, at home on the west coast. Her first book, Wiles of Girlhood, won the Gerald Lampert Award (LCP, 1992). She has published eight further books, most recently: Halfling spring (Kegedonce, 2014), A Night for the Lady (Ronsdale, 2013), Mother Time (Ronsdale, 2007), and (as editor) Salish Seas: An anthology of text + image (AWCWC, 2011). Her essays and poetry appear in over tweny-five anthologies and diverse journals. She has been called to judge on behalf of BC, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan book awards, the Governor General’s Awards, and for various other arts organizations. A frequent performer, she was a founding member of the Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast, and volunteered in past with The Writers’ Union of Canada (National Council) and The Writers’ Trust of Canada (Authors Committee). Grand multipara, mentor, editor, and blogger, Joanne is currently the poetry editor for EVENT Magazine.
An Officer of the Order of Canada, Lorna Crozier is a winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award and the recipient of five honourary doctorates. Her latest book of poetry, The Wrong Cat, received two national awards last year, the Ray Souster and the Pat Lowther Memorial Awards. She is a professor emerita at the University of Victoria and lives on Vancouver Island with writer Patrick Lane and two fine cats.
Born in 1976 to Italian parents, Laurent Fadanni grew up in Belgium. Following a BA in Romance Philology, he studied African literature at Dakar University in Senegal. An inveterate traveller, Fadanni taught French and drama in many countries before settling in BC in 2006, where he teaches French at École Gabrielle-Roy in Surrey. Laurent Fadanni has published six books of poetry in Belgium and in Canada, including Cartographie du vertige, which was awarded Belgium’s Polak Prize from the Royal Academy of French Language and Literature. His sixth book of poetry, Viticulture des gouffres, is about his passion for wine. With 3,000 vines planted in 2012 in his budding vineyard, Laurent Fadanni is keen to share his first two harvests this summer.
Marie-Andrée Gill is studying for her Master’s degree in Literature and contributes to literary culture in many ways. Her writing oscillates between corny and existential, combining Quebecois and Ilnue identities. Both her poetry collections, Béante and Frayer, are published by La Peuplade.
Pierre Nepveu taught literature at Université de Montréal for thirty years. Poet, novelist, and essay writer, Professor Nepveu has published well over twenty books, including several collections of poetry and essays, three of which earned Governor General’s Literary Awards. He is also the author, with Laurent Mailhot, of La poésie québécoise des origines à nos jours, a much-loved Quebec poetry anthology, which was reprinted in 2007. Pierre Nepveu was involved in collecting the scattered works of poet Gaston Miron and is also the author of Miron’s biography, Gaston Miron. La vie d’un homme, published in 2011. Pierre Nepveu has received both the Athanase-David prize in Quebec and the Order of Canada for his life’s work and in 2015 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Fred Wah lives in Vancouver and in the West Kootenays. His poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have received numerous literary awards. He was Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate 2011-2013 and made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2013. Recent books include Sentenced to Light, his collaborations with visual artists, and is a door, a series of poems about hybridity. High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, An Interactive Poem, is available online (http://highmuckamuck.ca/). His current project involves the Columbia River. Scree: The Collected Earlier Poems, 1962-1991 was published by Talonbooks in the fall of 2015.