2017 presenters

Our presenters (listed here in alphabetical order) appear in our evening events and take part in the Saturday panel discussions. Watch this space as our lineup develops!


Shashi Bhat is editor-in-chief of EVENT Magazine. Her novel, The Family Took Shape (Cormorant, 2013), was shortlisted for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. She received an MFA in fiction from The Johns Hopkins University and a BA from Cornell University. Her stories have appeared in PRISM, EVENT, The New Quarterly, The Missouri Review and other journals. She has been longlisted for the Journey Prize, a finalist for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Shashi has taught creative writing at The Johns Hopkins University and Dalhousie University, and currently teaches at Douglas College. She is a featured participant in our Saturday panel discussions.



Jane Byers lives in Nelson. Acquired Community, her second book of poems, was released in October, 2016 by Caitlin Press-Dagger Editions. Her debut poetry collection, Steeling Effects is published by Caitlin Press in March, 2014. Jane writes about human resilience, lesbian and gay issues, sexism, local geography, and health and safety in the workplace. A recipient of the 2014 Richard Carver Emerging Writer Award and an honourable mention in the 2013 Lena Wilson Endicott Poetry Prize, Jane has had poems and essays published in various literary journals in Canada, the U.S. and England, including Best Canadian Poetry 2014. Jane is a featured author in EMLF’s 100-Mile Opening Gala.



Leesa Dean  teaches English and Creative Writing for Selkirk College’s University Arts and Sciences department. Her fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and interviews have been published in Matrix, Lemon Hound, and The Headlight Anthology, among others. She’s been a finalist for literary awards such as the Irving Layton Award, the Litpop Award, and the Quebec Writing Competition. She is a regular contributor to The New Quarterly and is a former Interviews Editor for The Humber Literary Review. Her debut short story collection, Waiting for the Cyclone, was published by Brindle & Glass in October 2016. Leesa is a featured author at EMLF’s 100-Mile Opening Gala.



Joy Kogawa, one of North America’s most celebrated writers, is the award-winning author of three novels, seven collections of poetry and two books for children. Obasan, which the New York Times called “a tour de force…brilliantly poetic in its sensibility,” continues to be taught across North America, and the opera based on her children’s book Naomi’s Road has toured in Canada and the United States. Kogawa has worked to educate Canadians about the history of Japanese Canadians and is a long-time activist in the areas of peace and reconciliation. In 2010, the Japanese government honoured her with the Order of the Rising Sun. Her latest book, Gently to Nagasaki, has been shortlisted for the 2017 Hubert Evans Nonfiction Prize.  Joy takes the stage at our Saturday Night Live! event.



Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, where she writes about books and publishing, as well as film, TV, visual art, theatre, dance and other cultural matters. Born and raised in Toronto, Marsha moved to Vancouver in 2007, when she joined The Globe. Before that, Marsha worked for CBC Radio, where she held a variety of positions, including National Arts Reporter. Prior to joining CBC, she worked as a private radio talk show host, reporter and news anchor. She has degrees from Ryerson and York University. She says one of the best things about her job is getting paid to read and write about books. Marsha will interview our Saturday Night Live! authors on stage.



Lee Maracle is the a member of the  Sto: Loh nation and the author of many award winning and critically acclaimed literary works, including: Sojourners and Sundogs, Daughters Are Forever, Bent Box, Memory Serves, Celia’s Song, and Talking to the Diaspora, and has co-edited a number of anthologies and scholarly works. Lee serves as an instructor at the University of Toronto, is the Traditional Teacher for First Nation’s House, and is an instructor with the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. Lee has received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from St. Thomas University and  the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work promoting writing among Aboriginal Youth. She has received the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Ann Green Award. Lee takes the stage at EMLF’s Saturday Night Live!



Dr. Micheline Maylor is Poet Laureate of Calgary. Her collection Little Wildheart was short-listed for the Robert Kroetsch award for experimental poetry. She teaches at Mount Royal University. She was the Calgary Public Library Author in Residence in the fall of 2016. She serves as poetry editor at Frontenac House Press and as the Past-president and co-founder of Freefall Literary Society and remains a consulting editor. She says: “Poetry connects, it rallies, it grieves, it seduces, it explores, it captivates. It takes your hand in rapture, exaltation, depression, when you’ve lost hope, when you have faith. Poetry is the stuff of life. It will wring you out, then save you.” Micheline is a featured participant in EMLF’s Saturday panel discussions.



Emily Nilsen was born and raised in Vancouver. Otolith, her first book of poetry, was published in spring 2017 by Goose Lane Editions. On the publisher’s website, the book description reads: “Born in the fecundity of British Columbia’s coastal rainforest, these poems are full of life and decay; they carry the odours of salmon rivers and forests of fir; salal growing in the fog-bound mountain slopes.” Emily has published poems in PRISM, Lake, and The Goose, and in a chapbook entitled Place, No Manual. Nilsen was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2015, and has been longlisted for the prize on three separate occasions. Her work has also been longlisted for the UK National Poetry Prize. Emily is a featured author in EMLF’s 100-Mile Opening Gala.



Eileen Delehanty Pearkes explores landscape and humanity in her books The Geography of Memory, The Inner Green (with K.L. Kivi), River of Memory, (ed. William Layman) and The Glass Seed, a memoir. Her guest-curated exhibit for Touchstones Museum of Art and History on the Columbia River Treaty won the Canadian Museum Association’s Award of Excellence. Born in the United States and a Canadian resident since 1985, Eileen’s research interests support her bi-national perspective. A River Captured: the Columbia River Treaty and Catastrophic Change was released in fall 2016. In December 2016, she was named Nelson’s 2017 Cultural Ambassador. Eileen is a featured author in EMLF’s 100-Mile Opening Gala.



Fred Stenson has written 19 books and 150 films and videos. His novel Who By Fire was published by Doubleday Canada in 2014 and was long-listed for the IMPAC Award. Other fiction titles include the historical novels The Great Karoo, Lightning and The Trade. The Trade won the WGA George Bugnet Novel Award, The City of Edmonton Book Prize, and the Grant MacEwan Writer’s Prize, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. The Great Karoo won the Grant MacEwan Writer’s Prize and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Fred was the director of the Wired Writing Studio at The Banff Centre for 15 years; his book on the craft of fiction, Things Feigned or Imagined, is available from Banff Centre Press. He was the 2015-16 Writer In Residence at the University of Alberta. Fred joins us as EMLF’s Writer-in-Residence and Saturday Night Live! featured author.



After completing a BA from York University, Margaret Tessman moved to Nelson in 1981 to attend David Thompson University Centre. She has worked as a bookseller, small business owner, adoption support worker, freelance editor, M.P.’s assistant and librarian. In 2001 she moved back to Toronto for a year to complete the certificate program in publishing at Ryerson, after which she worked as an editor for University of Toronto Press, among others. Since 2006 Margaret has been the editor of ARTiculate magazine, a publication of the West Kootenay Regional Arts Council, assigning stories, managing deadlines and juggling details. In her spare time she does freelance editing for Harbour Publishing, including Arthur Black’s humour collections and Gwen Sjogren’s O Canada crossword puzzle books. Margaret is a featured participant in EMLF’s Saturday panel discussions.



Richard Carver loved the arts, he loved the Kootenays, and he was invested in the community as both a keen observer and a tireless volunteer. He was a mover and shaker on the board of the Nelson and District Arts Council, the sponsor of this award named in his honour. He was generous with his encouragement. He encouraged everyone to get out there and do whatever it was that called to them: paint, or sing, or dance, or write. He honoured all stages of artistic growth. His passing was a great loss to the community. EMLF is proud to partner with NDAC in the presentation of The Richard Carver Award for a deserving writer in the early stages of a bright literary career.

This year’s prize winner–to be announced in June–will read at EMLF’s 100-Mile Opening Gala.

Watch this page for more 2017 presenters as our lineup is finalized.