Professional Profiles

One of Canada's most important black authors now directing The Writer's Studio


By Amy Robertson

One of Canada’s most important black authors has taken over as director of The Writer’s Studio, a creative writing program at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies.

Wayde Compton, an accomplished Vancouver author, creative writing instructor, and co-founder of Western Canada’s first and only black literary press, took up his new post in January 2012.

In a review of Compton’s most recent book, David Chariandy, a colleague, said that Compton is “among the most brilliant and accomplished black Canadian writers of his generation.”

Those words struck a chord with the search team at SFU Continuing Studies—they knew they should take notice of the soft-spoken writer, teacher, and musician.

“Wayde is the perfect blend of experienced mentor, leader in education, and writer that we need,” said Katherine McManus, who helps oversee The Writer’s Studio, which emphasizes creating in community with other writers.

Compton is well-acquainted with both the university and the Studio. He did both his undergraduate and master’s degrees in English at SFU. He was also a group mentor for The Writer’s Studio from 2006 to 2009, during which time he worked with several authors, including Gurjinder Basran and Ayelet Tsabari, both of whom have recently signed major publishing contracts.

Compton first wanted to return to the program a year ago when he saw Basran at a festival where both he and she were scheduled to present their work.

He realized something while Basran read from the story he’d helped her draw out.

“This is what happens to books,” he says. “They get away from you. They take on a life of their own. They become part of the people who read them...

“That’s what we do at The Writer’s Studio. We’re putting books into the world that change the world. It's the most exciting lab for creating work that I’ve ever seen.”