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Region welcomes Rayanne Haines as new writer in residence

It's going to be a busy 2022 for Rayanne Haines as the incoming regional writer in residence. In addition to all of the writers seeking her help, and all of the programs and workshops she'll be offering, she also has a project of her own to produce.
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Rayanne Haines hopes to help a lot of writers during her yearlong stint as the regional writer in residence starting on January 5, 2022. RAYANNE HAINES/Supplied

It’s almost time to take a number and stand in virtual line. The 2022 regional writer in residence is cracking her spine, and that’s a really good sign.

Incoming 2022 regional writer in residence Rayanne Haines can help you with all kinds of writing problems, both on the page and in your head for the free service. She takes it as a way of paying it forward; she, too, once benefited from the astute and critical counsel of a sage writing mentor.

"I have had tremendous mentoring from writers over my career and I feel like it's important to also give back in the same way that it was given to me," she began, suggesting that all writers can benefit from making a habit of having other eyes on their works in progress.

"I just think it's a really invaluable resource that I wanted to be a part of," she continued.

"One of the things that I really strive to do in any support, any mentoring, is I ensure people know that I critique the work, not the person. Any feedback I give, I work to be sensitive to the writer, and to acknowledge the passion and whatnot that they put into their work. Any feedback I give is simply about the writing and how to elevate your writing, and how to make your voice and your work as strong as it can possibly be."

Haines is no stranger to this ball game, having been writer in residence for a short stint previously at Audreys Books. Oh, and she's also an award-winning and best-selling hybrid author of three poetry collections and four urban fantasy/romance novels. Her creative non-fiction essay called This is Normal was a 2020 finalist for the Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Alberta Literary Award. Her short fiction piece, CutLines, won the 2019 WGA Global Health Writing Award.

On top of all that, she is an Edmonton Artist Trust Fund Award recipient who teaches in the Arts and Cultural Management Program in MacEwan University's Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications. She hosts the literary podcast Crow Reads and is the vice-president for the League of Canadian Poets. She also produces and curates intersectional feminist poetry films and panels with authors across this country. Her newest work, Tell the Birds Your Body Is Not a Gun, was published in April by Frontenac House.

So yeah, she's qualified.

Her job, starting Jan. 5, 2022, is to offer supports and programs to writers of all ages and experience levels through the Metro Edmonton Federation, a consortium of the Edmonton Public Library, Fort Saskatchewan Public Library, St. Albert Public Library, and Strathcona County Library. While Haines will virtually spend time at each of the Strathcona, Fort Saskatchewan, and St. Albert libraries in order, her counterpart Norma Dunning will spend the year stationed at the Edmonton Public Library as its writer in residence.

Haines — the poet, novelist, and essayist — knows her phone might easily be ringing off the hook.

"I have a bit of preparation in how many people may be asking for support, but I'm really looking forward to that. I think there's so many people that never had the chance to have anybody look at their writing, or who may feel uncomfortable asking someone to look at their writing. Being able to do that and offer that is, I think, really important."

While most of her mentoring work will still be virtual, her intention and hope is to offer in-person opportunities as soon as she can safely do so. She already has programming lined up that includes a monthly writers' conversation, which is intended for the real world, not the cyber one. Workshops, however, are well suited for being held online as they can easily facilitate more people than you might be able to fit into one library program room.

"I know right now the January workshop and conversation are going to be online. February’s goal is to actually do an in-person one-on-one conversation with Governor General winner Jacqueline Baker talking about the importance of women's narratives and women's stories," she said, adding it's important to her to promote both the empowerment of women's narrative in storytelling and the writing of the woman's story in a woman's voice.

"It's what I focus most of my work on, even my fantasy work, even my romance writing, it's all about validating the woman's narrative and the woman's voice in writing."

Part of her mandate is to spend 50 per cent of her time working on her own writing. Haines said her project of choice is "a manuscript of experimental interconnected fiction vignettes set in a future dystopian Alberta."

St. Albert Public Library CEO Peter Bailey said he's pleased with Haines's appointment.

"She’s a talented writer in a number of genres, and is deeply committed to nurturing growth and success in local writers,” he said. “We had great success with writer in residence programs online in 2021, and in 2022 we hope to move back to supporting aspiring writers in person as well.”

Struggling St. Albert writers can learn more about the new regional writer in residence by visiting her website at To make first contact, send an email to [email protected]. Until Dec. 21, those emails will be answered by outgoing 2021 regional writer in residence Nisha Patel. You can stay in the loop of both by visiting

For those who wish to learn about Dunning and make contact with her as the Edmonton library writer in residence, visit

Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns, and profiles on people.
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