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Drew Hayden Taylor joins Ryerson as writer-in-residence

Award-winning humorist shares his love of native storytelling, literature, writing with students and faculty

Drew Hayden Taylor

Drew Hayden Taylor is Ryerson’s new writer-in-residence.

Drew Hayden Taylor, one of Canada’s most talented writers, has made Ryerson University’s Department of English his academic home as its newest writer-in-residence.

“We are honoured that Drew Hayden Taylor is bringing his distinctive literary voice to the Ryerson community this semester,” said John Isbister, interim provost and vice-president, academic. “A master of his craft, Taylor’s appointment reflects the university’s priority of enriching the academic experience of students.”

Over the next two months, Taylor will engage students and the Ryerson community in guest lectures and public readings about various forms of native writing in film, television, short stories, creative non-fiction and theatre. A master class for advance English students in writing is also in the works. Taylor will also be available as a resource for students to help with their own creative writing.

“I am immensely pleased and flattered to be joining Ryerson University as their writer-in-residence,” says Taylor. “Ryerson exists both figuratively and literally at the heart of Toronto, and I only hope I will be able to share my talents with those that already exist there.”

When he’s not meeting with students and faculty, Taylor will be busy working on several projects of his own including a draft for his new novel, Chasing Painted Horses, a pilot script for a native sitcom and a new family play about children and horses.

The celebrated artist has close ties to Ryerson. He has been a guest lecturer on many occasions with several professors in the Department of English. He is also closely connected to the university’s Aboriginal Student Services and has participated in many of their events, including a book reading for his latest novel Motorcycles and Sweetgrass (Random House 2010), with Hon. James Bartleman, former lieutenant governor of Ontario in 2011. The novel was nominated for a Governor General Award for Fiction in 2010.

“I am delighted and honoured to welcome renowned Ojibway writer Drew Hayden Taylor to Ryerson,” says Jean-Paul Boudreau, dean, Faculty of Arts. “Drew brings a rich literary tradition and practice to the English department and the arts faculty. It’s exciting to have our students and faculty experience important aspects of Ojibway drama, fiction and humour from an award-winning writer.”

Originally from Curve Lake First Nations near Peterborough, Ontario, Taylor has worn many hats in his literary career, from performing stand-up comedy to overseeing Canada’s premiere native theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts, as its artistic director. His “journey” as he calls it, spanning 25 years, has given him the opportunity to lecture and travel to 18 countries worldwide and 130 native communities in Canada. An award-winning playwright and prolific author, he has written 70 productions, wrote 23 books and worked on 17 documentaries exploring the native experience.

Taylor co-created and was the head writer for Mixed Blessings, a television comedy series. In 2007, a made-for-television movie he wrote based on his Governor General’s Literary Award-nominated play, In a World Created by a Drunken God, was nominated for three Gemini Awards, including best movie. His most recent endeavors include a collection of essays, News: Postcards from the Four Directions (Talon Books, 2010) and a comedic play, Dead White Writer on the Floor (Talon Books, 2011).

Now as Ryerson university’s writer-in-residence, the self-described contemporary storyteller can inspire Canada’s next generation of writers, humorists and playwrights through his teachings.

The Department of English launched its successful writer-in-residence program last year with Fred Wah, Canada’s poet laureate. Taylor has been a writer-in-residence at the University of Michigan, U.S., University of Western Ontario, and the University of Luneburg, Germany.

For a full biography of Drew Hayden Taylor, visit www.drewhaydentaylor.com.

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