About Us

The first session of the Street Writers took place in the spring of 2008 at the Parkdale Library branch. Our goal was to bring together a critical mass of youth who lived in the area and were interested in trying different kinds of writing, through a series of hands-on workshops led by local authors and artists. An outstanding 38 people registered. We were had a ridiculously fun time and publish some of their work here, in The Scrawl.

The following year, we got funding to extend the program for seven months, and ended it with a huge party, where we launched our print zine A Collection of Tuesdays and Thursdays. Since then, we've gone on to expand and create sister programs, like Impossible Words (a literary salon that pairs up members of the group with professional authors on stage), a filmmaking group, a hip hop program, specialized writing intensives, and even a video game creation workshop.

Workshop leaders are all professional authors. They've included storyteller Dale Jarvis, novelists Ibi Kaslik, Mariko Tamaki, and Kristyn Dunnion, street artist and videographer Stro1, hip hop lyricist Mindbender, and comics artist Willow Dawson. They ran workshops on everything from finding your character's voice, to turning your life into a song, to writing reviews, to the basics of writing film scripts, to creating comics even if you can't draw.

The program is coordinated by award-winning Toronto author Emily Pohl-Weary, who grew up in the area, and wanted to create a safe community-based learning environment for young writers who don't easily fit into more traditional institutions. Writer-in-residence Dianah Smith, and our two program assistants, Dizia Raposo-Ferreira and Adhimu "Mindbender" Stewart also help coordinate, organize and shape the program.

In early 2012, we were fortunate enough to move into a permanent workshop space at the Academy of the Impossible (at Bloor and Lansdowne).

If you're interested in finding out more about the Toronto Street Writers, please send a message to info(at)parkdalewriters.ca or call 416-779-1448.

Coordinator
Emily Pohl-Weary
is an award-winning Toronto author, arts educator, editor, and PhD student at University of Toronto. Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, her teen novel, is forthcoming in 2013 with Penguin Canada and Amazon Children’s Books. She’s writing a poetry collection and a screenplay supported by Astral Media's Greenberg Fund. From 2009-12, she facilitated a writing group for Aboriginal men living at Sagatay (Native Men's Residence). She’s the co-founder of the Academy of the Impossible, an innovative learning centre that focuses on writing, arts, media production, and social engagement. Her doctoral research looks at transformative educational models and how creative writing groups can empower people.

Writer-in-Residence
Dianah Smith is a Jamaican-born, Ottawa-raised writer, teacher and arts educator. She is the Founder of ‘A’ is for Orange, a reading series featuring queer Caribbean emerging writers. Dianah is the recipient of several grants, including an OAC Works in Progress grant to complete her first novel. She has been published in McGraw-Hill Ryerson’s Voices in the Hall textbook, The Best of Rabble 2009, Siren, Flirt, Shameless Magazine, No More Potlucks and Rabble.ca.

Program Assistants

Addi "Mindbender" Stewart is a rising star in Toronto hip hop, has performed with EL-P, Pharoahe Monch, Del and many others, played countless shows across North America, received local and international press. He organizes Toronto's best open mic night, In Divine Style and has been featured in movies with 50 Cent, Mos Def, and Don Cheadle, as well as doing journalism for Pound and Now. Mindbender is a hip hop historian, a Canadian culture documentarian, and a musician like no other.

Dizia Raposo-Ferreira is a young mother who grew up in Parkdale and worked throughout her teens at arts camps for kids with mental and physical disabilities. She speaks Portuguese and Spanish, is a natural leader with an ability to put other youth at ease, an avid reader, and constantly scribbles in her diary. She studies at Ryerson’s Early Childhood Education program.