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Writers at school


Host an Artist or Writer.

Joel Yanofsky

Creative non-fiction


Joel Yanofsky
Photo: Doreen Lindsay

Joel Yanofsky has worked as a freelance journalist, book reviewer and columnist, essayist and literary biographer for the last two decades. He has interviewed dozens of artists, including Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields, Roberston Davies, John Updike, Saul Bellow and Mordecai Richler. Joel Yanofsky's work has appeared in The Gazette, Canadian Geographic, Chatelaine, The Globe and Mail, and Reader's Digest, among other publications. He is the author of a book of comic essays, Homo Erectus: And Other Popular Tales of True Romance and the novel Jacob's Ladder, which was also translated into French. His latest book, published in the fall of 2003, is Mordecai & Me: An Appreciation of a Kind. It is about writers, the writing life and Mordecai Richler. He has recently written personal essays on autism and has won literary prizes for two pieces: Bad Day (The Malahat Review 2008 Prize for Creative Nonflctlon) and What You Need (QWF/CBC Writing Competition for 2008). He has also co-written a musical, Love U: The Grad School Musical, which was performed in Southern California in April 2008.

Suggested reading*

Mordecai & Me: An Appreciation of a Kind
Jacob's Ladder
Bad Day
What You Need

*These titles have been suggested by the author based on the activities that he/she proposes to students.
It is, however, up to teachers to verify whether the titles are appropriate for their groups (age and education level, specific context, etc.).
Teaching staff are invited to contact the author for clarification on this aspect and assistance in preparing their groups for his/her visit.

Proposed approach and type of activities

Joel Yanofsky is a personal writer and, as such, he believes that the best way to get students interested in reading and writing is to make them aware of how much of their own life experience can be used as material. This approach has to be twofold: first, to encourage students to trust the story they have to tell and second, to make them realize that what matters most is how they tell it. This means shaping their unique material into stories that will be of interest to others. The goal is to use the particular to get to the universal. The author's particular approach would be to use a hands-on strategy to show how young writers find their voice and subject matter by looking into their own experience. Mostly, he would teach by using himself as an example.

Examples of activities

  • Write a book review using the first person.
  • Use the workshop method to discuss class work.
  • Write a profile of a friend or relative.
  • Create a story based on an incident from a newspaper.

Special conditions

For information

Joel Yanofsky
Téléphone : 514 486-8876
Téléphone autre : 514 972-8876
Télécopieur : 514 486-8876
Courriel :

Subject to taxes (GST, PST)



1er secondaire, 2e secondaire, 3e secondaire, 4e secondaire, 5e secondaire

Available in

Laval, Lanaudière, Laurentides, Montréal, Outaouais

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