Incoming regional writer in residence to focus on supporting rural writers

The Metro Federation of Libraries has named Rayanne Haines as its 2022 regional writer in residence, with her time to be split between Strathcona County, Fort Saskatchewan, and St. Albert.

"I grew up in a rural community so I really wanted to have that opportunity to work with writers who are in the same position and don't have access to as many opportunities or workshops as writers that are in the city core," Haines told Taproot.

Haines is an award-winning and bestselling author of three poetry collections and four novels. She also teaches in MacEwan University's faculty of fine arts and communications, and hosts the Crow Reads Podcast.

Haines was a single mother when she was developing her writing career, and credits her growth to being able to attend workshops and receive valuable mentorship from writers like Alice Major.

"I know there's a lot of people like me who don't have the opportunity or the money to go and take a creative writing degree. So I really wanted to be able to be that person that could encourage those writers and offer workshops, mentorship, and conversations about writing," she explained.

"It just seemed like the right fit to ... be able to pass the torch and offer the same kind of support that I was offered."

Haines will spend about half of her time mentoring other writers and the other half on personal projects, like an experimental fiction novel, written in short stories that combine to tell a broader story.

Haines will also host conversations with writers every month in different locations throughout the region outside of the libraries, to discuss a variety of themes with other authors. The series will aim to highlight writers with different backgrounds, who may speak other languages or have different lived experiences.

Haines, who now lives in Edmonton, will begin her tenure in early January.

Rayanne Haines smiles in front of a concrete pillar

Rayanne Haines will be the regional writer in residence for 2022. (Supplied)

Norma Dunning, who recently won the Governor General's Literary Award for English-language fiction, will take over as the Edmonton Public Library's writer in residence in the new year, spending time at branches throughout the city.

"We often think of libraries as a space for reading," Dunning said in a news release. "My hope and goal is to turn the library into a space for writing, for all ages."

The residency program is currently wrapping up its ninth year with outgoing writers Nisha Patel and Vern Thiessen.