Mayor's Arts Award for Literary Arts

Betsy Warland (left) and Jónína Kirton (right), 2016 Mayor's Arts Award for Literary Arts honoree and emerging artist, respectively

2016 recipients

Betsy Warland


Betsy Warland has written 12 books of poetry, creative non-fiction, and lyric prose including bestseller Breathing the Page – Reading the Act of Writing (2010). In April 2016, Oscar of Between – A Memoir of Identity and Ideas was one of two books that launched Caitlin Press’ new imprint, Dagger Editions.

In 1975, Betsy initiated the Toronto Women’s Writing Collective. She also initiated and co-coordinated the Women and Words – les femmes et les mots conference (Vancouver, 1983), which brought together a thousand women from across Canada. She designed and directed The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University from 2001-2012 and initiated the annual DTES Writers’ Jamboree at Carnegie Centre (2008-2012).

In 2004, Betsy co-founded the cross- Canada Creative Nonfiction Collective; in 2007 she founded the six-month Vancouver Manuscript Intensive program, where she continues to mentor. She has been a professional creative writing teacher and manuscript consultant/editor for the past 30 years.

Jónína Kirton

Emerging artist

Jónína Kirton, a prairie born Métis/Icelandic poet and facilitator, currently lives in Vancouver, the unceded territory of the Coast Salish people. Jónína graduated from The Writer’s Studio at Simonn Fraser University in 2007, is currently a member of their Advisory Board and is the liaison for their Aboriginal Advisory Board. She is also a member of the Room Magazine Editorial Board. 

Her work has been featured in numerous anthologies and literary journals including, Ricepaper’s Asian/Aboriginal Issue, V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out, Pagan Edge, First Nations Drum, Toronto Quarterly and Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine.

Her first collection of poetry, page as bone – ink as blood, released in April 2015 by Talonbooks, has been described as “restorative, intimate poetry, drawing down ancestral ideas into the current moment’s breath.” Her next collection of poetry, An Honest Woman, is scheduled for release in the Spring 2017 with Talonbooks.

Past recipients

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2015 recipients

2014 recipients

2013 recipients

2012 recipients

2011 recipients

2010 recipients

2009 recipients

2008 recipient