The Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador was founded on March 29, 1987, to provide support for our province’s writers. The organization emerged out of a series of panel discussions called Overcoming Isolation and continued to take shape in living rooms around St. John’s. While the Writers’ Alliance was not the first nor the last writing organization in Newfoundland and Labrador, unlike its predecessors, WANL was the first organization created to support and advocate for writers during all stages of their literary careers—a mandate we maintain today. From emerging writers, to authors with multiple publishing deals, nobody is turned away. Since its inception the scope of the Writers’ Alliance has extended to all corners of the province—with continual effort to reach writers in communities large and small.
With a list of potential members from the Overcoming Isolation conference, by September of 1987 the Writers’ Alliance had gained a membership of seventy-five. Founding board members were Lillian Bouzane, Peter Gard, Peggy Krachun, Linda Green, Doreen Ayre, Isobel Brown, Joan Clark, Wade Kearley, and Winston Ruby. The core values established by this group remain intrinsic to the Alliance: to create a community and network of communication among writers of Newfoundland and Labrador, to provide advice and assistance to anyone seeking information and knowledge about the literary arts, to encourage and develop public awareness of and appreciation for the work of writers in the province and to enhance the quality of writing in Newfoundland and Labrador through our many services and programs. By the time WANL celebrated its first birthday in 1988 it had grown into a robust organization with over one-hundred members and a host of volunteers.
Over the years the WANL office has moved from building to building, with a continually rotating staff, board executives and directors overseeing day-to-day tasks and strategic planning in the ever-shifting economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. Now in its 30th year of operation, the not-for-profit has more than three-hundred members from across the province and boasts some of the finest programs and services for writers in Canada, including: the WANL Manuscript Evaluation Service, the WANL Emerging Writers Mentorship Program, the Spring Tides Reading Series, the Visiting Author Reading Series, workshops for authors and poets across all genres, the newly implemented Write Coast Podcast, as well as the WANL e-newsletter (sent out every second week), online member profiles and the WORD quarterly publication, all of which are exclusive perks of being a member.
Lastly, advocacy is key to our organization. Recently, our Board of Directors, staff and members have worked to reverse the provincial government’s 2016 budget cuts to the libraries of the province. Scheduled readings in the hometown libraries of established authors, many of whom are members of the Alliance, and support from community members, have helped show the provincial government the overwhelming interest in keeping our libraries open, and have contributed to the government’s recent decision to revisit library closures with a full-scale review. While the future of these fifty-four libraries is still up in the air, many members of the Alliance are still rallying and advocating for literacy and the resources that writers in this province rely on.
With initiatives around Newfoundland and Labrador, the Writers’ Alliance continues to support local authors. Operating through various national, provincial and municipal grants, our programs continue to weave a tight knit community and support system for anyone with an interest in writing.