The Literary Arts Foundation NL

Inspiring excellence in Newfoundland & Labrador writing...

Piper's Frith Faculty for 2016

Poetry Mentor:

Don McKay is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry including Birding, or Desire (1983), Night Field (1991), Apparatus (1997), Another Gravity (2000), and Strike/Slip (2006). Camber, a book of selected poetry, was published in 2004, and Foglio a foglia|Leaf to Leaf, a selection of poems translated into Italian, in 2010. Five of McKay’s books have been nominated for the Governor-General’s Award, which he has twice won. In June 2007 he won the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize for Strike/Slip. In 2012, he received the Winterset Award for his collection of essays The Shell of the Tortoise.


For 27 years, Don taught English and creative writing at the University of Western Ontario and the University of New Brunswick.


Don was co-founder and editor of Brick Books, one of Canada's leading poetry presses, and has served as editor of the literary journal The Fiddlehead and as the Associate Director for Poetry at The Banff Centre for the Arts. His abiding interest in natural history and the environment has led to two books on the poetics of wilderness: Vis à Vis (2001) and Dedicated West 100 (2005). In 2009, he was named to the Order of Canada.


Having lived all over Canada, McKay now makes his home in St. John’s, where he edits and writes full-time.

Fiction Mentor:

Leslie Vryenhoek is a writer, editor and communications expert. Her novel Ledger of the Open Hand (2015) was shortlisted for the BMO Winterset Award. Leslie is also the acclaimed author of a short fiction collection, Scrabble Lessons (2009) and her poetry collection Gulf (2011), which was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award.


As an editor and mentor, she has worked closely with authors and poets to help them amplify their own distinct style and voice. Editing credits include Samuel Martin’s novel A Blessed Snarl (nominated for the Impac Dublin Literary Award), Jill Sooley’s blended family extravaganza Baggage, and Janet Merlo’s memoir No One To Tell: Breaking My Silence on Life in the RCMP, (shortlisted for the NL Book Awards Nonfiction Award) a book that continues to make waves as Janet is the face of the class-action suit against the RCMP involving more than 400 women.


As a communications professional, her career has focused on international development, emergency response and post-secondary education. In recent years, she has written about women’s struggles in east Africa and India. Based in St. John’s, Leslie founded Piper’s Frith and served as its director for six years, this is her first year as a mentor.

Playwriting Mentor:

Robert Chafe is a St. John’s based playwright whose work has been seen across Canada, the UK, and Australia. He is the author of 18 stage scripts and co-author of another ten.


He is Artistic Director and playwright for Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, where he frequently collaborates with NAC English Theatre Artistic Director Jillian Keiley. Two of his plays (Tempting Providence and Butler’s Marsh), published in 2004 by Playwrights Canada Press, were shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Drama. His play Afterimage won the award in 2010.


Tempting Providence, directed by Jillian Keiley and produced by Theatre Newfoundland Labrador, is entering its eighth year of national and international touring. His recent work, Oil and Water, premiered in St. John’s in a sold out run in February 2011, and has toured nationally, which included the National Arts Centre in 2014.


He has been a guest instructor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, and the National Theatre School of Canada. Robert is spending the summer of 2016 touring Artistic Fraud's concert version of his latest play Between Breaths.

Link to Application Guidelines

(Applications are now closed for 2016 although we may be able to squeeze in 1-2 more playwrights. Playwrights contact us at [email protected])


To pay your fees for Piper's Frith you can mail a cheque to:

Piper's Frith
PO Box 2662
St. John's, NL
Canada A1C 6K1 

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