VS. Books

An imprint of Arsenal Pulp Press

A mentorship and publishing opportunity
for an Indigenous or Black writer, or a writer of colour,
over the age of 50 living in Canada

This spring, Téa Mutonji and I joyfully promoted her book, Shut Up You’re Pretty, the first book published under the VS. Books imprint. During our promotional tour, I was repeatedly asked how I had settled on the age limits for eligible authors in the open calls (the range was 18–24 in the 2017 call and 18–28 in 2018).

When asked this question by an older woman at Brampton’s FOLD festival, I responded with my usual comment that my focus was on mentoring youth, and closed by respectfully adding, “Also, what could I possibly teach you?”

She responded, “Many older writers are here precisely because we want to learn from you.”

After this event, I found myself reflecting on this exchange. I thought about how often the parameters of mentor relationships are typically rooted in the assumption that an older person will teach a younger one, even though mentorship is ideally a reciprocal process and youth are important cultural teachers. I also thought about how the resources and opportunities available to artists in marginalized communities, however few, tend to favour youth (and how I myself missed out on many opportunities for queer and trans youth because I came into these identities as an adult).

Lastly, I thought about how many older writers from marginalized communities have faced harsher systemic barriers than the ones that exist today, and have missed out on the advantages of increased representation, rights, and demand for more diverse books. As Tracey Lindberg succinctly stated: “Please remember: ‘emerging writers’ includes old birds who stopped fearing and started writing…”

In rethinking my ideas (and biases) around mentorship, age, emergence and access, I have decided to take the third open call of VS. Books in an exciting new direction by mentoring and publishing the work of an older BIPOC writer.

If you are an unpublished writer living in Canada who is Indigenous, Black or a person of colour and who is 50 or older, you are invited to email VS.Books@vivekshraya.com by January 4, 2021 with the following:

The mentorship will include:

Please note that if we have worked together before through previous mentorship programs or in another capacity, you are still welcome to apply. You may also apply if you have self-published a book, but the manuscript you submit must be new and not previously published in full elsewhere, including online. Feel free to email me if you have any questions!

The application deadline is January 4, 2021. All applicants will be notified about the selection by the end of May 2021. The selection process will be based primarily on my ability to support your work on your manuscript.

Look forward to working with you!


As heard on q with Tom Power

More press