Susan McMaster


Almost a decade ago, poet Susan McMaster and her husband Ian found a beautiful summer home in Minasville on the Fundy shore, where they now spend much of each summer, returning to Ottawa each winters. Susan was the president of the League of Canadian Poets (2011-12), and is the author or editor of some 30 poetry books, anthologies, and periodicals, including recordings with First Draft, SugarBeat, and Geode Music & Poetry. Recent collections completed in Nova Scotia include Haunt>, Lizard Love: Artists scan poems by Susan McMaster, Pith & Wry: Canadian Poetry (ed.), Paper Affair: Poems Selected & New, and The Gargoyle’s Left Ear: Writing in Ottawa. Crossing Arcs: Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me, which both began and was finished in Minasville, was shortlisted for the the national Acorn-Plantos award and Lampman Poetry Prize, as well as the Ottawa Book Award.

Susan has presented her poetry across Canada and abroad, and broadcast on such shows as WordBeat, Go!, Richardson’s Roundup, As It Happens, and Morningside. Other projects include founding the national feminist and arts magazine Branching Out; writing “Dangerous Graces: Women’s Poetry on Stage” for the Great Canadian Theatre Company, “Dark Galaxies” for the National Arts Centre Atelier, and “Poetry in the Park,” for the summer festival in Ottawa. She organized “Convergence: Poems for Peace”, a millennial project to bring poetry and art from across Canada to all Parliamentarians in 2001. Convergence included a selection by Nova Scotian Carole Glasser Langille.

McMaster enjoys collaboration, and her poetry has inspired works by many artists and composers. She is grateful for a warm welcome into the Nova Scotia literary world through readings arranged by Marc Petersen at the Acoustic Maritime Music Festival (with bassist Alrick Huebener), Heather Pyrcz at Acadia University, Jeannette Lynes at St Francis-Xavier, David Rimmington at the Seahorse Tavern, Susan Sweet and Gwen Frankton at Galley 215, Doris Hagmann at the Avon Emporium, Kelly Bingham at Bing’s Eatery, the jams at the Minasville Community Centre and elsewhere, and Scott Rines and Kennetcook School. In 2006, Susan read her poem, written 25 years earlier, “Today, I turned everything around” and drank a glass of champagne with neighbours and friends and the crew who had just lifted her house up with two cranes, moved it 80 feet, and turned it around so 12 of 17 windows now open to views of the sea.


{Haunt} (Black Moss, 2018)

Haunted by family and friendship, grief and jubilation, politics and philosophy, this warm, human, and conversational poetry speaks to a wide range of readers. Her images and inspiration spring from the natural world of forest and lake and sea.


Ottawa Book Awards, shortlist 2005, 2010


Archibald Lampman Poetry Prize, shortlist 1992, 2005, 2010


Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award, shortlist 2010


CBC National Literary Contest, poetry, shortlist 1988 and 1991


Best Poet in Ottawa, SAW Gallery Apple Awards, shortlist, 2003.


Jane Jordan Poetry Awards, HM in 1994, 2nd place 1996, 3rd place 1998.


Canadian Author’s Association, Ottawa, Poetry, HM 1994.


League of Canadian Poets National Poetry Contest Anthology 1993.


Canadian Author’s Association National Poetry Award shortlist 1992.

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure that each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those with no professional publications (yet!) or a few short professional publications (i.e., poems, stories, or essays in literary magazines, journals, anthologies, or chapbooks).
  • Emerging writers: those with numerous professional publications and/or one book-length publication.
  • Established writers/authors: those with two book-length publications or the equivalent in book-length and short publications.
  • Professional authors: those with more than two book-length publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” creative writing workshops, which provide more opportunities for participant-to-participant feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at