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RSJ professor selected as Kitchener Public Library writer-in-residence

By: Jonathan Bradley
November 06, 2020
Photo of Kamal Al-Solaylee

Photo credit: Gary Gould

Kamal Al-Solaylee, a Ryerson School of Journalism professor, has been chosen, external link as the Kitchener Public Library’s writer-in-residence. 

“I was honoured,” said Al-Solaylee. “I am a professor, but I am also a writer of non-fiction. These kinds of opportunities usually go to fiction writers, so it is not very often that non-fiction writers become writers in residence.” 

Al-Solaylee has written “Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes” , external linkand “Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone).”, external link He has worked as a theatre critic at the Globe and Mail, and his work has been published in news outlets such as the Toronto Star, the National Post, and the Walrus. 

He said he has a connection to Kitchener-Waterloo because he taught at the University of Waterloo before he started at Ryerson University. His first book was nominated for the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, which is named after a writer from the area. He held events at the KPL in 2016 and 2018. 

One of his responsibilities as writer-in-residence is to meet with unpublished authors from southwestern Ontario to discuss samples of their writing. Those interested in meeting with him will have to submit an application. He will go through the applications and select up to 30 participants who he will meet with for half-an-hour. 

He will give them feedback, edit their work, and tell them where they can publish it. The advice he provides will be tailored to the person who he is talking to and the level of writing he or she is at. 

Al-Solaylee will also be giving four public lectures. The lectures will start with developing and writing a pitch for a feature in the first lecture and end with crafting a detailed proposal for a nonfiction book in the fourth. These lectures will take participants on a guided tour of writing narrative nonfiction for general interest magazines and books. 

Lectures will be done over Zoom. Registration is required to attend each lecture. He is hoping more people can attend because these events are online. 

He said he is happy he will be providing guidance to unpublished authors. 

“I bring 10 years of working on books and 23 years of working as a journalist,” said Al-Solaylee. “I bring real life experience.”