Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek
Otoniya is an Acholi poet. Her collected published poetry and essays provide revelatory new insights into, and narratives of, war and processes of reconciliation based on a deeply-rooted cultural understanding of the practices of storytelling. Otoniya has twice received the Canadian Council for the Arts Award and has been invited to national and international poetry festivals and events.
While at SFU, she proposes to amplify and provide spaces for conversations about belonging from the perspective of marginalized people who can relate as hyper-visible and invisible at the same time, including immigrants, refugees, racialized, differently abled, cis or not cis, and queer.
Otoniya plans to work on a collection of stories entitled “un/scripted: writing from these unceded lands”, which will build on her current work “Settled/Unsettled”, a collection of poems that grapple with marginality and belonging. She will also hold manuscript consults with students, emerging writers and others who may wish to discuss their creative writing on a one-on-one basis.
As part of the residency, Otoniya has begun a collaboration with Chantal Gibson from SFU’s School of Interactive Design and Technology. Some of this work is already up at the Belzberg Library as an exhibition titled “un/settled”, featuring the poetry of Otoniya and photography by Chantal.