Fred Wah, Sonnet L’Abbe and Leesa Dean


Three authors on Thursday, Oct. 8 will celebrate nearly 50 years of creative writing education in the West Kootenay.  Reading at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Presentation Series of Nelson’s Oxygen Art Centre will be local pioneer creative writing teacher Fred Wah and Nelson’s two newest writing instructors, Sonnet L’Abbe and Leesa Dean.

The event is free ($5 donation appreciated) and open to the public.  The Oxygen Art Centre is located at 320 Vernon St. (alley entrance).

Wah, who served as the Parliamentary Poet Laureate 2011-2013, taught from 1967 to 1989 in Nelson and Castlegar at David Thompson University Centre and Selkirk College.  He has published more than 20 books of poetry and prose, including the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning Waiting for Saskatchewan, and a prose memoir Diamond Grill, about growing up in Nelson in the 1950s, which won Alberta’s Howard O’Hagen Award.

Wah will be talking about and reading from a book forthcoming later this fall: Scree: the Collected Earlier Poems 1962-1991.

Reading with Wah will be poet and editor L’Abbe, who is the instructor for the University of B.C.’s first-ever creative writing course in Nelson which began Sept. 25.

She won the national Bronwen Wallace Award for emerging writers in 2000, and has two collections of poems from Toronto’s McClelland and Stewart Publishers.  She edited the annual anthology Best Canadian Poetry 2014, and has taught for the University of Toronto, UBC’s Kelowna campus, and Vancouver Island University.

L’Abbe most recently was writer-in-residence at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.  While in Nelson she serves as the UBC Nelson Rotary Writer-in-Residence, providing advice and feedback on manuscripts to aspiring local writers.  Information on how to set up an appointment with L’Abbe is on the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival website ( under the “Writer-in-residence” tab.

Rounding out the evening reading will be Dean, who teaches an introductory creative writing course for Selkirk College this fall in Nelson.

A graduate of the University of Guelph’s MFA program in writing, Dean’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry and interviews have been published in The New Quarterly, Matrix, and Lemon Hound among other journals, and she is currently the interviews editor for the Humber Literary Review.  Her first book of short stories will appear from B.C.’s Brindle and Glass Publishing in 2016.

Dean is a member of the organizing committee for Nelson’s 2016 Elephant Mountain Literary Festival.  The Festival is a co-sponsor of the Oct. 8 reading.\

Screen shot Wah Labbe Dean

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