Alberta has always had a reputation for dragging its feet when it comes to recognizing the equality of its LGBTQ+ population. But that has never stopped Queer artists from using this province not only as a home base, but as a source of their inspiration.
Is it something in the water that encourages so many talented Alberta Queer creators to speak loudly and proudly about their lives and loves? Or did the repression of the last few decades actually prompt several generations of important Queer voices to emerge from this province, sometimes moving on to international recognition?
This list is just a sampling of Albertan LGBTQ+ writers that can be found at many Edmonton Public Library branches. Dive into the imagination of these talented wordsmiths, and gain a new appreciation for the kaleidoscope of the Queer experience.
A child of Medicine Hat, Ronnie Burkett rose to prominence as a very funny and versatile puppeteer, wielding multiple marionettes at once.
With the premiere of the award-winning Tinka’s New Dress, he was elevated from puppeteer to a writer of significance.
What followed were three more epic, nuanced and poetic plays that spoke to the human condition with wit and compassion.
Check out String Quartet: Four Plays, opens a new window to read Tinka along with Happy, Provenance and my favourite, Street of Blood.
An Edmonton poet and speculative fiction writer, Candas Jane Dorsey’s range is vast.
Her 1997 novel Black Wine, opens a new window won the James T. Triptree Award, the Crawford Award and the Prix Aurora Award for science fiction.
She was also editor-in-chief for Edmonton’s own The Books Collective until 2005, she served on the executive board of the Writers Guild of Alberta and is a founder of SF Canada (a community of Canadian authors who work on speculative fiction).
Billy-Ray Belcourt grew up in Driftpile Cree Nation and—as poet, scholar and author—has created work that challenges our notions of race, sexuality and gender.
Belcourt, an advocate of LGBTQ+ and Indigenous communities, is the newest recipient of the Griffin Poetry Prize for his collection of poetry This Wound is a World, opens a new window, which was also named CBC’s Best Book of 2017 in the Canada Poetry category.
A former sports journalist, Laurie MacFayden left that work to become a full-time artist. Not only has she created several books of poetry, but her own paintings grace the covers of said books.
Her writing has appeared in The New Quarterly, FreeFall, Queering the Way and Alberta Views. Her short story, Haircut, won the Howard O’Hagan Award at the 2017 Alberta Literary Awards.
I adore White Shirt— partially because of the writing, but also because of the Pollock-esque original MacFayden painting on the cover.
Originally from Newfoundland, Marc Colbourne is an Edmonton-based social worker and writer of fiction and non-fiction, whose work explores the experience of marginalized communities.
He co-authored the memoir Exiled for Love: The Journey of an Iranian Queer Activist, opens a new window, which details the experience of Arsham Parsi, who was forced to flee Iran for his work fighting human rights abuses against Iranian LGBTQ+ people.
Now a resident of Prince George, B.C. Alex Powell has strong Edmonton connections. Powell is a genderqueer writer from northern Canada who has a self-confessed unhealthy obsession with Victorian Gothic literature.
In addition to several novellas for LGBTQ+ publisher Less Than Three Press, Powell is also a contributor to Geek Out: A Collection of Trans and Genderqueer Romance, opens a new window.
A poet, novelist and associate professor at University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts, Suzette Mayr creates work focused on race and ethnicity in Canadian culture.
With four novels under her belt, her work has been nominated for several literary awards. Monoceros, opens a new window tells the story of the suicide of a 17-year old bullying victim—inspired by real life events. (Monoceros is also available as an eBook, opens a new window.)
Want to explore more local writers? Check out our blog about talented authors in Edmonton, opens a new window.
This blog post has recommendations that are a perfect fit for our 2018 EPL Reading Challenge, opens a new window. The Reading Challenge is a fun way to dare yourself to read outside your comfort zone—and it’s not too late to take part! One of the themes is to read a book by a local author.