Wanda Taylor, BJ’08 has been hired as the first mentor apprentice in King’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Nonfiction program.
“Wanda brings a range of experience as a writer and acquisitions editor who is deeply engaged in creating space for stories from Nova Scotia’s marginalized communities,” says Kim Pittaway, executive director, King’s MFA in Creative Nonfiction. “As an author, she has explored both historic and current issues related to Nova Scotia’s Black communities. As an editor, she is commissioning works on a range of subjects and has a demonstrated commitment to amplifying voices from a range of backgrounds.”
In addition to her King’s journalism degree, Wanda also has degrees in social work and early childhood education, and a master of education. She is acquisitions editor for Formac Publishing and the former executive director of Stepping Stone Association in Halifax. Her nonfiction books include Adult Talk (Fierce Ink Press), Birchtown and the Black Loyalists (Nimbus Publishing), Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children: The Hurt, the Hope, and the Healing (Nimbus Press) and the forthcoming It’s Our Time (Nimbus Publishing). She has also published a play, a novel and a young adult novel. You can read her full profile at ukingscommunity.ca.
Because of past inequities and systemic bias, King’s wanted to expand opportunities for early-career writers and editors from marginalized communities to develop their teaching and mentoring skills through the mentor apprenticeship. The nine-month 2018/19 position was open to applicants from traditionally marginalized communities including writers/editors of Indigenous, African-Nova Scotian, POC, LGBTQ2+, disability or low-income backgrounds.
It’s an effort to redress an imbalance, Kim says. “But the interaction isn’t one-way: we know that writers and editors from marginalized communities bring insights—about writing, about issues related to their specific communities, and about their own specific writing and editing interests—that will enrich the conversations we as a group will have through our residencies and the rest of the year.”
Wanda says she hopes to add to students’ ways of looking at their writing and expanding their perspectives, and to help them think about how the people in their stories are affected by the places and spaces they occupy. “I also hope to share my insights around diversity and inclusivity in creative writing,” she says.
King’s President William Lahey says Taylor’s appointment is a step forward in recognizing the value that those with diverse experiences and backgrounds bring to King’s MFA program. “The range of Wanda’s experience, as well as her enthusiasm and commitment to further develop her skills as a nonfiction editor, teacher and mentor will make an important contribution to King’s,” Bill says.
She’ll be shadowing mentors as they work with students, and will be involved in all faculty conversations and meetings. She’ll also work with cohort directors Dean Jobb and Stephen Kimber, develop a lecture, attend the New York residency in January, and write a paper about mentoring/writing which she will share with MFA team when her term ends in April 2019.
Wanda says her time in the journalism program at King’s, combined with past experience in leadership roles and teaching adults, her work as an author, and her 20-plus years working on the ground— particularly around social issues and the human condition—have prepared her to assume this new role.
“I anticipate it will be a thrilling ride,” Wanda says.
King’s is grateful for a two-year funding commitment to this apprenticeship made possible as part of a larger gift from the John and Judy Bragg Family Foundation.