Saturday, April 4, 2020

Joanna Lilley


Poet and novelist Joanna Lilley is from the UK and now lives in the Yukon, Canada, where she made her home in 2006 some 15 years after cycling alone nearly 6,000 miles across Canada and over the Arctic Circle.

Her fifth book, Endlings, out in spring 2020, is a collection of poems about extinct animals. In 2018 her debut novel was published, Worry Stones, which is about a daughter trying to keep her family together when her parents sell up the family home and join a religious sect. Worry Stones was longlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award.

Joanna’s other books are a short story collection, The Birthday Books, and the poetry collections If There Were Roads and The Fleece Era, which was nominated for the Fred Joanna_Lilley_photo_credit_Michael_EdwardsCogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry.

As well as having given readings all across Canada and in the UK and the US, Joanna has delivered workshops as far afield as Alaska and Iceland. Although she lives in Canada, she makes regular visits to the UK to visit family and friends. She’s received support from the Touring Artist Fund to travel to literary events in Canada and in other countries.

Joanna has won or been listed in many writing competitions and has received four Advanced Artist Awards from the Government of Yukon and an Emerging Northern Writers and Artists Fund award to support her work. She has an MLitt degree in creative writing from the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde and is a Humber School for Writers graduate.

She’s grateful to reside in Whitehorse on the Traditional Territories of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.

Website address:
Twitter: @circumpolarjo 
Instagram: lilley.joanna


2020 – Endlings, Turnstone Press
2018 – Worry Stones, Ronsdale Press
2017 – If There Were Roads, Turnstone Press
2015 – The Birthday Books, Hagios Press (now Radiant Press)
2014 – The Fleece Era, Brick Books
Buy Joanna Lilley’s Books on Amazon UK

Publishers in Canada:
Ronsdale Press
Turnstone Press
Radiant Press
Brick Books

Synopses of books

Endlings (forthcoming in spring 2020)

Endlings takes us across continents and through the long expanse of aeons to give voice to the dead. In poems that are lyrical, exact and deeply melancholic, Joanna Lilley demands audience for the final moments of animal extinction. From the zebra-horse quagga and chiding dodo, to the giant woolly mammoth and delicate Xerces blue butterfly, the haunting, urgent words of these ‘endlings’ cut to the bone to expose the brutality of nature and the devastating repercussions of human ignorance and intent, while giving hope that our humanity will help save what remains. Endlings is Joanna’s third poetry collection.

Worry Stones (2018)


High in the Canadian Arctic British art history Jenny pursues her passions: Inuit art and an attractive geologist. But the sudden news that her mother has suffered a stroke reels Jenny back into her old life – the responsible youngest daughter of parents who gave up everything to join a religious sect. In Inverness, Jenny tries to put the jumble pieces together, while turning to her collection of ‘worry stones’ for comfort. Did her mother

escape from the sect? Is her father, a prominent cult leader, threatening to take her back? Can Jenny persuade her two sisters to set aside old grievances to save their mother? Amidst the turmoil, Jenny tries to break free of the childhood pressures that stifled her creative talents and emerge as an artist in her own right. Joanna’s debut novel, Worry Stones was longlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award in 2016.

The Birthday Books (2015)

The first short story collection by an award-winning writer whose stories take readers’ hearts and hopes north from Greenland to Alaska. Author Patricia Robertson says: ‘In her debut collection, Joanna Lilley empathetically enters lives as different as those of an Inuit sculptor, a middle-aged Scottish sheep farmer, and a trapeze artist who wants to run away from the circus. Her empathy extends to animals, plants, and the natural world, and her rural and wilderness settings captivate. Lilley also offers readers a fresh UK perspective on The-Birthday-Booksthe Canadian landscape in clean uncluttered prose – a winter lake is “glutinous” – that is leavened with dry wit.’

Awards & Prizes

Joanna’s first poetry collection, The Fleece Era, was nominated for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. While she was working on her debut novel, Worry Stones, it was longlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award and the Fish Young Adult Novel Prize and also shortlisted for the Bluechrome Opening Pages competition.

Joanna’s writing has won or been listed for a range of awards, including first prize in the Planet in Peril, Vancouver International Writers’ Festival, Lothian Life and Worldwise writing competitions and the Zurich Insurance business feature award. She won second prize in the Dr William Henry Drummond Poetry Contest, third prize in the Great Blue Heron Poetry Contest and fourth place in Guernsey’s International Poetry Competition.

Literary Festival Appearances

BIG LIT Stewartry Book Festival (Dumfries and Galloway), Cascadia Poetry Festival (Seattle), Edmonton Poetry Festival, gritLIT (Hamilton, Ontario), Growing Room (Vancouver), Live Words (Whitehorse, Yukon) NorthWords NWT (Yellowknife, the Northwest Territories) and the Whitehorse Poetry Festival (Yukon).

Joanna Lilley reads from The Fleece Era

Podcast interview with Active Voice host Katie Bausler

Joanna reads her poem about the pink-eared duck as part of the Bimblebox Art Project

Pitch to Publishers & Festival Organisers

Joanna Lilley is an engaging, accessible poet and novelist who loves sharing the joy of words with readers and writers through readings, discussions, workshops and in one to one chats.

She feels compelled to write about the challenges of everyday life, from dealing with extinction and the environmental impact of western living to trying to keep your family together and finding your place in the world.
Joanna delivers workshops on writing poetry and fiction for beginners and more experienced writers alike and is currently developing a series of workshops on writing about animals.
Contact email:
Contact telephone? 00 1 867 633 3926


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