Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

October 13, 2004

Award-winning playwright Djanet Sears U of G’s writer-in-residence

Djanet Sears, a Governor General Award-winning playwright, is the 2004 writer-in-residence at the University of Guelph. Sears will give a talk Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 224 of the MacKinnon Building. The event is free and open to the public.

“The writer-in-residence program allows us to bring into our community outstanding writers like Djanet Sears, who complement and expand the writers who are on our faculty,” said Jacqueline Murray, dean of the College of Arts. “It is an unparallelled opportunity for our students to meet and discuss writing as an art and a craft, and to receive feedback from writers like Sears, who are shaping the next generation of Canadian literature.” The program is made possible by the Canada Council for the Arts and the College of Arts.

Alan Shepard, director of the School of English and Theatre Studies said Sears “brings a unique artistic perspective to the university. Artistic communities, to stay vital, need brilliant visitors. That’s why Djanet’s presence on campus is so important."

Sears wrote Canada’s first stage play published by a woman of African descent, Afrika Solo, in 1990. The sequel to that play, Harlem Duet, won the 1998 Governor General’s Literary Award, the Dora Mavor Moore Award and the Floyd S. Chalmers Award for outstanding new Canadian play. In 2003, Sears received the Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. Her most recent play, The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, finished two runs in Toronto at the DuMaurier Theatre in March 2004.

Sears said she’s delighted to have the opportunity to dedicate the next four months to writing in Guelph. Being away from all of her own things in Toronto removes distractions and allows her to concentrate, she said. “A great writer once told me that the biggest trick to writing is ‘bum in seat.' You just have to sit there and do it and wait for the resistance to go.” During her time at Guelph, she will be working on a play and another piece of fiction.

In addition to her own writing, Sears will visit classes on campus to talk about writing and is holding office hours to enable student writers and members of the community to discuss their writing and projects with her. She is scheduled to visit the two literature classes that are currently studying Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God and Harlem Duet.

Sears is no stranger to speaking in front of university classes and meeting with students one-on-one. She has been an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto since 2000.

When meeting with students, she encourages them to find their own writing process. “They already know a lot about how and where they like to write, whether it be at a coffee shop, in bed or at a desk. I try to get them to find out things about their own writing process that are already in place but that they just aren’t aware of.”

Sears’s office hours are on Wednesdays and Thursdays, starting at 1 p.m. To make an appointment, contact Elizabeth Gilbertson, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53147, or

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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