“Warland is a liminal creature, thriving at the boundaries where prose meets poetry, teachers meet students, the city meets nature, and one writer’s attentive, lucid mind encounters the quotidian glories and fierce adventures of life lived on the edge.”

—Vancouver Sun

betsy about


Betsy Warland is the author of fourteen books of creative nonfiction, memoir, and poetry. Two of those books are now published as second editions with new material.

A leading mixed-genre writer, teacher, and manuscript mentor/editor in Canada, her collection of essays on writing, Breathing the Page—Reading the Act of Writing, became a bestseller in 2010. A second edition, with ten new essays, was published in November, 2023. Also in its second edition, Warland’s most enduring book, Bloodroot—Tracing the Untelling of Motherloss (2000), was released in a second edition in 2021 with a foreword by Susan Olding, and a long essay reflecting on the book twenty years later by Warland.

Reviews out of the US, Germany, and Canada have called Warland’s memoir, Oscar of Between—A Memoir of Identity and Ideas (2016,) “an achievement,” “a roman a clef,” “truly luminous,” and a “tour de force.” In 2022, composer Lloyd Burritt’s street opera, “Camouflage Complex,” premiered in Vancouver, BC. The libretto, written by Warland, is based on Oscar of Between.

In 2020, Adrienne Drobnies wrote in the Ormsby Review, that Lost Lagoon/lost in thought (a collection of 55 prose poems and essay), deftly encapsulated Warland’s narrative approach: “This is Betsy’s 13th book and her command of art and of language is that of a virtuoso.”

Warland’s contribution to the arts was recognized in 2016 when she received the Mayor’s Arts Award for Literary Arts in Vancouver.

Throughout her career, Warland has been dedicated to emerging writers. In 1975, she initiated the Toronto Women’s Writing Collective that produced numerous literary events and publications. She also initiated and co-coordinated the Women and Words — les femmes et le mots conférence (Vancouver 1983), that brought together one thousand women from across Canada involved in all aspects of contemporary literature. She designed and directed The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser from 2001-2012, where she held faculty and mentor positions for a number of years.

betsy about

Betsy Warland reading at the launch of the second edition of Bloodroot, hosted by the Massy Arts Society.

betsy about

Jordan Abel, inaugural 2021 winner of the VMI Betsy Warland Between Genres Award for his book, Nishga.

In her own writing as well as her work as a teacher and organizer, Warland is deeply committed to community and collaboration. In 2004, Warland co-founded Canada’s Creative Writers Nonfiction Collective with author Myrna Kostash. In 2007, Warland also founded, directed and mentored in the six-month Vancouver Manuscript Intensive program until 2020. In 2021, Vancouver Manuscript Intensive Co-Directors Elee Kraljii Gardiner and Rachel Rose created a new award to celebrate Warland’s innovative and convention-defying work—the VMI Betsy Warland Between Genres Award. The winner of the inaugural award, was Jordan Abel, for his book, Nishga. In 2022, the award was given to Remnants, written by Céline Huyghebaert and translator Aleshia Jensen. The winning book in 2023 was House Within a House, written by Nicholas Dawson and translated by D.M. Bradford.

betsy about

Betsy continues to work in both mentorship and teaching. A professional writing teacher, manuscript consultant, and editor for the past 30 years, Betsy’s passion is exploring the idiosyncratic nature of narrative and its quirky, intrinsic relationship to form. From one-on-one manuscript consulting to leading workshops and classes, Betsy sees her role as being all about encouraging and strengthening writers in their work.

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