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Writer in residence reporting for St. Albert duty

Need help writing? No ... that's not good. How about, "Nisha Patel is here to make all of your literary woes dissipate." Umm ... that sounds hoity-toity. Who uses the word 'dissipate?' Help!
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Nisha Patel is the regional writer-in-residence for the Metro Edmonton area.

The regional writer in residence has now set up her virtual office in St. Albert to carry out the last few months of her year-long term.

“Besides an event for STARFest … everything's going to be online still,” confirmed former Edmonton poet laureate and slam champ Nisha Patel, referring to her hosting gig for author Amanda Leduc when the in-person event takes place at the Arden Theatre on Oct. 24.

The bulk of her duties involves free one-on-one consultations with local authors who are looking for her sage advice on their own writing projects. It has already been a busy time with the St. Albert crowd.

“It's been really great. There have been writers who have reached out. I'm hoping that there will be a few more,” she continued, lamenting how the pandemic has prevented many of the in-person interactions and critiques many solitary writers want and, yes, need. It has also allowed for people across the metropolitan Edmonton region to have access to her wise and reasoned counsel since day one.

“The nice thing about having been online this year is that St. Albert writers have been reaching out since January, realistically. There have been people who maybe would have waited to go in person because of where they live, and they've been able to attend events virtually. It's my recommendation at least that part of that accessibility continues into the next person's role.”

She’ll be fielding those calls, emails, and online meetings until some time in December. People can reach out to her via email at [email protected] to get started.

For those looking for Patel’s programs, there are a few already on the fall slate with the possibility for more to come along.

Her public events kick off with a continuation of her open mike series on Tuesday, Sept. 21 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Attendees can connect with other local writers and sign up for a five-minute opportunity to read in front of a virtual crowd. There will be a local guest author and a literary chat each month. There won’t be an October open mike, but the series will return in November and December.

Patel follows that up with a Culture Days Poetry Workshop. Participants will get the chance to explore various sources of inspiration to create and shape new work with a group of peers. That takes place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23.

After that, she will offer a workshop session called All About Publishing, a title that is probably right on the nose considering its content. Patel will offer an overview of the different types of publishing available to writers: everything from journals and literary magazines and blogs to publishing houses in Canada. Sign up for that session on Thursday, Oct. 7 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

But that’s not all.

“We're going to be re-doing a workshop on grants that will be upcoming that we haven't fully scheduled yet. All of those are really great opportunities for folks to build on their skill sets as writers.”

People can visit https://www.sapl.ca/programs-events/events/writer-in-residence.html to learn more about Patel plus access the link to all of her upcoming writer in residence programs where they can register for free as well.

Part of the duties of a regional writer in residence is to spend 50 per cent of the time working on a new project. Patel said that her new young adult novel is a “weird open secret” in her writing circles. The poet who has experience with writing screen treatment and recently published a book of lesson plans for slam poetry is finding this new genre to be a challenge. Thank goodness for the community of writers, she said.

“It is so difficult,” she laughed. “I'm taking some courses to guide me under the mentorship of a few writers, and it's been really fascinating. I'm hoping that this also helps the writers coming to me and makes them more comfortable because I'm able to expand my area of expertise as well.”

“I think that writing community is so important. I think it can be really lonely writing in your studies or on your phone or wherever people write, especially during a pandemic. Being able to access spaces where you can talk about writing is really important.”

As Patel works on her writing and your writing, she also noted that the call for the 2022 regional writer in residence is fast approaching with the deadline set at 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 13. Applications can be submitted to [email protected], attention: Writers in Residence Selection Committee. More details can be found on the library’s writer in residence page.


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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