News and Interviews

The Writers' Trust Announces their 2022 Rising Stars, including Trillium Book Award Winner Téa Mutonji

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This afternoon, the Writers’ Trust of Canada announced their five 2022 Rising Stars. Each year the programme, which has run since 2019, invites five acclaimed Canadian writers to select, endorse, and mentor a promising writer who is in the early stages of their career. Past Rising Stars include Windham-Campbell Literature Prize winner Canisia Lubrin and award-winning writer, literary agent, and former Open Book columnist Chelene Knight.

Each "Star" not only receives the individually tailored mentorship and guidance from their champion, but also $5,000, professional career development assistance, and a two-week residency at the prestigious Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. 

The 2022 Writers’ Trust Rising Stars are:  

  • Vanessa Bell (Quebec City), Selected by Nicole Brossard 
  • Wendy Bone (Bandung, Indonesia), selected by J.B. MacKinnon 
  • Xaiver Michael Campbell (St. John’s), selected by Lisa Moore 
  • Joseph Kakwinokanasum (White Rock, BC), selected by Darrel J. McLeod 
  • Téa Mutonji (Toronto), selected by André Alexis   

The selecting writers were effusive about their choices. Brossard praised Bell's writing as "vivid and sharp, a whirlwind of audacity", while MacKinnon held up Bone, his fellow nonfiction writer, as an author whose "writing positively thrums with a soulful engagement with reality".

Moore called Campbell's writing "sensuous, daring, and sometimes wildly erotic — full of wry humour" and McLeod's endorsement of Kakwinokanasum highlighted his ability to breathe "life into his characters at their first mention" and his writing as "deliberate and skillful, magical, and meticulously raw". 

Alexis focused on Mutonji’s acclaimed Shut Up You’re Pretty in his endorsement, praising the book's "subtlety of detail, the way power and longing are related, and the extraordinary control of her language". 

The WT Rising Stars programme is made possible by the generosity of presenting sponsor BMO Financial Group and five founding program sponsors: Margaret Atwood, Jim Balsillie, Kari Cullen, and William Bonnell, Clair Duff in memory of Catherine Shepard, and Deb MacLeod and Ward Sellers.

The 2022 Rising Stars were announced via a live streamed event hosted by author Eddy Boudel Tan, a previous Rising Star recipient. Starting tomorrow, Writers’ Trust will be accepting public nominations for the 2023 Rising Stars program. You can recommend a developing Canadian literary writer with great potential and view the full eligibility details on the Writers' Trust website.

See below for full bios from all five 2022 Rising Stars.

Vanessa Bell is the co-director of CONTOURS, a critic at Le Sabord magazine, a member of the editorial board at Lettres québécoises, president of the Table des lettres de Québec et Chaudière-Appalaches, and a frequent contributor to Radio-Canada. Her literary and artistic practice has been showcased across Quebec and Europe. Bell’s debut collection of poetry, De rivières, was published byLa Peuplade in 2019. She co-edited l’Anthologie de la poésie actuelle des femmes au Québec 2000-2020 and MONUMENTS and won the 2021 Félix-Antoine-Savard Prize.

Wendy Bone is of Cree-Métis and Scottish heritage. She earned an MFA in creative writing from UBC and specializes in literary journalism about the environment and human rights. Her most recent work includes an investigation into crimes committed against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority for The Investigative Journal and a piece on land grabs of Indigenous Orang Rimba territory in Indonesia for The Fiddlehead. Her fiction has appeared in the anthologies Bawaajigan: Stories of Power and Cli-Fi: Canadian Tales of Climate Change.

Xaiver Michael Campbell is a fiction writer born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. He now considers Newfoundland and Labrador home after living in the province for over a decade. His work has appeared in The Malahat ReviewRiddle Fence, and in the anthology Us, Now published by Breakwater Books.

Joseph Kakwinokanasum is a member of James Smith Cree Nation. He is a graduate of Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio and The Writer’s Studio Graduate Workshop. His work has been published in the 2022 anthology Resonance: Essays on the Craft and Life of Writing by Anvil Press, the Humber Literary Journal, and Emerge, The Writer’s Studio anthology. He was shortlisted for the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize and his manuscript Woodland Creetures was awarded the 2014 Canada Council for the Arts Creation Grant for Aboriginal Peoples, Writers, and Storytellers.

Téa Mutonji’s debut collection of short stories, Shut Up You’re Pretty, was published by VS.  Books/Arsenal Pulp Press in 2019. She was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and won the Edmund White Award and Trillium Book Award. Her essay “The Price of Being Pretty” was nominated for a Digital Publishing Award from the National Media Awards Foundation. She holds a degree in media studies with minors in both English literature and creative writing from the University of Toronto Scarborough and is the recipient of the Jill Davis Fellowship in Fiction at New York University.