Edna Staebler Writer-in-Residence: The Me in Memoir: Getting Personal

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Event Details

Registration required, visit: Writer-in-Residence: The Me in Memoir: Getting Personal

Over the course of four lectures, author, critic and journalism professor Kamal Al-Solaylee will take participants on a guided tour of writing narrative nonfiction for general-interest magazines and books. He’ll start with developing and writing a pitch (or query letter) for a feature in the first lecture and end with crafting a detailed proposal for a nonfiction book in the fourth. In between, Al-Solaylee will guide his audience toward reporting, structuring and writing a complete feature story in the second lecture, and identifying and writing a personal essay or memoir piece in the third. Taken together, the four lectures will act as a beginners’ guide to the world of nonfiction writing for a general audience with little or no prior experience.

Personal essays and memoir pieces are great genres to explore pressing social issues and to put into words (and into the world) the contours of your life experience. In this lecture, we’ll explore why personal writing is enjoying a golden age and how to lend shape to the chaos and frictions of life.


Kamal Al-Solaylee is the author of the national bestselling memoir Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes, which won the 2013 Toronto Book Award and was a finalist for the CBC’s Canada Reads, the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction.

His second book, Brown, was hailed as “brilliant” by The Walrus and “essential reading” by the Globe and Mail. It was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction, the Trillium Book Award and won the Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. Brown is reported from ten different countries, including Canada. Both books draw on his skills as a storyteller and ability to synthesize complex social and political issues into accessible narratives.

His ten years as a theatre critic, first at Eye Weekly and then at the Globe and Mail, honed his sense of drama. He has written reviews and features on film, television and culture for all major Canadian publications, including Toronto Star, National Post, The Walrus, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, Elle Canada, the Literary Review of Canada and Quill & Quire.

Kamal holds a PhD in English Literature from Nottingham University and is a professor of journalism and creative nonfiction at Ryerson University. He was the 2018 Jury Chair for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and has served as a juror for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award as well as CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize. In 2019 he was one of three finalists for the Allan Slaight Prize for Journalism and the winner of the Gold Medal at the National Magazine Awards for his column “Point of Departure” in Sharp magazine.


Event Type(s): Arts, Culture and Entertainment, Special Events
Age Group(s): Adults