Yanique Bird reading:
Petura Burrows reading:
Sheila Stewart reading:
Writing through the eyes of a child: Deceptively simple. Extraordinarily difficult to accomplish convincingly. As if with sleight-of-hand, these three new writers roll back the years and take you places you remember well.
In Antigua, a nine-year-old girl sneaks out of the house to play marbles against neighbourhood boys. Their pockets bulge with marbles. She had three. Bird’s dialogue, rich with Antiguan rhythm and dialect, and her great visual descriptions transport you right into the backyard, on your knees lining up a “steelie,” ready to shoot.
Yanique Bird was born in St. John’s on the island of Antigua in the eastern Caribbean, to Vernon Bird a land surveyor employed by the Government of Antigua, and Eunetta Bird a civil servant with the Ministry of Public Works. She has one younger brother. At eighteen, Bird tired of sun, sea and sand and decided that the notorious winters of Canada sounded like a pleasant change. She moved to Ontario, where she studied and volunteered and studied and slacked off and eventually graduated. With a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in hand, she moved to Toronto where she enjoys Japanese rock music, organic chemistry, belly dancing, playing guitar (badly) and sleepless nights of debauchery with friends. Yanique Bird hopes to one day publish a book and eventually live and work in Japan.
A Bahamian girl, full of the playfulness and fun of a nine-year-old, burns with embarrassment and shame after an annoyingly precocious cousin shows her up at reading time. With Mother’s approval lost, the sense of physical tension that Burrows creates tightens unbearably. You too will yearn for the fantasized escape through Mother’s garden to the vacant lot next door.
Petura Burrows was born in Nassau, Bahamas in 1983, the middle child between two brothers. Her father is a pastor and high school guidance counsellor. Her mother is an elementary school teacher. Burrows studied Journalism and Communication at the College of the Bahamas and worked at a Bahamian newspaper for a few years. She visited other Caribbean islands, China, Germany and Austria on journalism assignments and as a member of the Bahamas National Youth Choir. Two years ago, Petura Burrows left the sunny Bahamas to pursue a Professional Writing degree at York University in Toronto.
Stewart writes with a deftness that fools you. Light and easy, yet by the end of the story you feel yourself squirm with the embarrassment—of your family, your body, your gender, your inexperience, your youth—and the painful self-conciousness inherent in being a young teenager in Grade Eight.
Sheila Stewart was born in 1959, a few years after her parents and older brothers emigrated from Northern Ireland. She grew up in Stratford, Waterloo, and Montreal. Stewart’s first book of poetry A Hat to Stop a Train was published in 2003. She has been invited to read her work across Canada and in Belfast.
Stewart loves working with people on their writing. She has taught in Libya and Swaziland, and worked in adult literacy in Parkdale, in the west end of Toronto. Currently a PhD student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, and co-editor of the upcoming book, The Art of Poetic Inquiry, Sheila Stewart investigates the way shame often permeates learning. She is fascinated by how words can limit our thinking and how writers work creatively with the tension of these limitations.