2017 Authors


Herménégilde Chiasson speaks at 2017 Starts Now Conference

Herménégilde Chiasson, OC, ONB, artist, poet, playwright, film director, lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick (born 7 April 1946 in Saint-Simon, NB). An Officer of the Order of Canada, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award, and New Brunswick’s 29th lieutenant-governor, Chiasson is considered the father of Acadian modernism and is one of Canada’s foremost advocates of Acadian culture and the arts. He is also notable for his insistence upon Acadian culture being a living culture rather than a persecuted and exiled one.

Of Acadian descent, Chiasson was born and educated in Saint-Simon, New Brunswick. He earned a BA from the Université de Moncton in 1967, a BFA from Mount Allison University in 1972, a master’s degree in aesthetics from the Université de Paris 1 in 1976, an MFA from the State University of New York in 1981 and a doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1983.

Chiasson has enjoyed an exceptionally distinguished career in the Canadian arts both during and following his graduation from five degree programs. His first placement was as the director of the Galerie d’art de l’Université de Moncton in 1974, and he assumed the position of president at Galerie Sans Nom in 1980. From that time onward, Chiasson began to found and chair arts organizations, including Éditions Perce-Neige in 1984, the Aberdeen co-operative in 1985, the Imago workshop in 1987, and Productions du Phare-Est in 1988. In 1994, Chiasson assumed the position of curator of the Marion McCain exhibit at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and he served as president of the Association acadienne des artistes professionnel.le.s du Nouveau-Brunswick from 1993 to 1995. Chiasson was also employed by Radio-Canada as a director, playwright, journalist and researcher intermittently from 1968 to 1985, and served as a member of the teaching staff at the Université de Moncton’s fine arts department from 1988 to 2003.

Visual Art

In addition to his numerous tenures throughout his career, Chiasson has pursued his own love of art, poetry, theatre, and film, and his work has been celebrated both in Canada and worldwide. He has participated in over 100 exhibitions of his painting and photography, including 18 solo exhibitions such as La frise des archers (1983) and Mythologies (1996). He is also the co-author (with Patrick Condon Laurette) of a monograph on the New Brunswick sculptor and painter (and founder of the fine arts department and art gallery at the Université de Moncton), Claude Roussel, Claude Roussel Sculpteur/Sculptor (1985).

Poetry, Film, and Theatre

Chiasson is the author of 18 books of poetry, including his first two groundbreaking examinations of Acadian identity, Mourir à Scoudouc (1974) and Rapport sur l’état de mes illusions (1976), reflecting shifts brought about by student demonstrations at the Université de Moncton in 1968 and 1969 and the formation of the Parti acadien in 1972.Climat (1996) was translated into English under the title Climates (1999). Conversations won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 1999.

He has directed more than 15 films, mostly focused on Acadian identity, notably Robichaud (1989), Marchand de la mer (1991), Les années noires (1994), L’Acadie retrouvée (1995) and Épopée, which won Best Documentary Film at the Festival international du film francophone de Namur. He has also written 25 plays, including popular productions such as L’exil d’Alexa (1993) and Aliénor (1998).


On 29 August 2003, Chiasson was installed as New Brunswick’s 29th lieutenant-governor, succeeding Marilyn Trenholme Counsell. His term ended in 2009, and he was succeeded by Graydon Nicholas. He is the honorary chairperson and patron for numerous charitable organizations, both in New Brunswick and across Canada, and he is Artist-in-Residence at Mount Allison University and Université de Moncton.


Prix France-Acadie (1986 and 1992)

Chevalier de l’Ordre français des Arts et des Lettres (1990)

l’Ordre des francophones d’Amérique (1993)

Governor General’s Literary Award (1999)

Grand Prix de la francophonie canadienne (1999)

Prix littéraire Antonine-Maillet-Acadie Vie (2003)

Honorary Doctor of Literature, Université de Moncton (2009)



April Ossmann reads some of her poetry

April Ossmann is the author of the collections Anxious Music (2007) and Event Boundaries (2017) as well as the recipient of a 2013 Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant. She has published her poems widely and is also both an editor and publishing consultant (www.aprilossmann.com) in addition to being an Editor-in-Residence for the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at Sierra Nevada College. April was Executive Director of Alice James Books from 2000 to 2008. Event Boundaries considers ways our relationships and growth as individuals are interdependent, whether it’s possible to consider any relationship (including with ourselves) independent of the culture and environment it exists in; whether we create our culture and environment in part through the way we enact our relationships, to what degree reality is objective or a matter of perception and how we come to terms with our and others’ mortality. Of April’s latest book, the Pushcart Prize-winning poet Lynn Emanuel has written “This is a work of maturity and severity, a book that refuses to look away. Event Boundaries is, despite or because of its starkness, a pleasure to read, and, I would add, it is a necessary read.”



Elizabeth Wellington talks about Circus Girl

traveled the world alone at age sixteen and lived in India for a year. After earning a Master of Arts from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from Boston University, she taught at Boston University, Simmons, Babson, and Wellesley College. Elizabeth lives with her husband outside Boston. Circus Girl is her debut novel, a skillfully woven tale of youthful adventure, love and self-discovery. It recalls a time when the fantasy of “running off to join the circus” presented all sorts of possibilities for dream fulfillment commingled with disillusionment. This dichotomy of experience is embodied in the variety of brilliantly drawn characters inhabiting her book and is especially true of the courageous young woman who wholeheartedly embraced her anomalous, nomadic lifestyle in all its vivid wonder and excitement. In its review of Circus Girl, Kirkus wrote “In her debut novel, Wellington vividly portrays both the traveling circus and the South in the early 1970s, and Sarah’s voice lends intimacy to these descriptions.”