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Paging Dr. Wordsworth: help!

Regional writer in residence sets up shop at St. Albert Public Library

Writing is hard. Actually, it’s easy if you keep doing it until it gets hard again, which it always does.

It just took five minutes to write that introduction. If only there was somebody who could help.

“Hi, I’m Mary,” says Mary Pinkoski, the regional writer in residence with Metro Edmonton Libraries.

Edmonton’s former poet laureate is an internationally-recognized, award-winning writer who is currently working on her doctorate in Education at the University of Alberta and has multiple writing projects on the go. She has spent the last several months taking turns at libraries in Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan. The interest in the services of an experienced and friendly writer, she noted, is indeed high.

“Between almost all of the programming, I had upwards of… between 15 and 30 people coming out for events. It was really strong and the programs were really well received, I think,” she said.

“It was neat to make the adjustments myself to figure out what the needs of the community were before going in but then also adjusting as I realized how each library operates.”

All of that certainly was preparation for what’s about to come. Pinkoski is well aware of the large contingent of aspiring writers in this city. She expects to have a busy appointment book and encourages people to contact her first (via email [email protected] or by phone at 780-240-1194) to make sure she’s free and available to meet.

She also has a full order of business that she has planned out with a host of programs ready to roll out from her new desk on the second floor of the St. Albert Public Library. Her office hours start on Monday, Aug. 19 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and that time includes her weekly Drop-in Writer’s Circle from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. She returns to the library on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for one-on-one meetings as well.

She has a welcome social set from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 24 for one and all to meet her and become acquainted with what she can offer. Attendees will be treated to her doing a live poetry piece, which will be followed by a reveal of what her plans are for the rest of her residency.

Those plans include workshops on writing the everyday to writing your own stories. She even has workshops planned for grade school writers and teens focusing on poetry, including some special kids’ programs leading up to the end of her term in December.

A monthly master class will feature critically acclaimed guest writers focusing on fiction, playwriting, multilingual writing, poetry, and how to successfully pitch your work to publishers. The first master class is a hands-on fiction-writing session with award-winning short story writer Norma Gunning. That takes place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5.

For Pinkoski, she’s thrilled to be able to have spent so many years learning her craft that she is now able, through the residency, to turn it around and offer help to others.

“It's been nice to be able to take the skills that I've (learned) in workshops over 10 years and bring them into this position and also grow a bit as a writing mentor or guide.”

Pinkoski’s counterpart with the Edmonton Public Libraries is Matthew Stepanic. The call for both of the 2020 writers in residence closes on Monday. More information can be found at