Performers 2015

LV1smallsiteLeslie Vryenhoek is the acclaimed author of Scrabble Lessons (fiction), Gulf(poetry) and a new novel, Ledger of the Open Hand. Her work has been published and broadcast across Canada and internationally. A Manitoban now based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, she is also the founding director of the Piper’s Frith writing retreat. Leslie’s communications career has focused on local and international development, advanced education and disaster response–sometimes all at once.

berniBerni Stapleton is a Newfoundland-Labrador actor and playwright. She works to explore the inner lives of Newfoundlanders who find the extraordinary within the ordinary. She is committed to the creation of plays which illuminate the culture and heritage that is unique to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mark-McCrowe-2Mark McCrowe was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Growing up around simple Newfoundland dishes using fresh seafood and wild game inspired an appreciation of the city’s local style of food and where it comes from. After studying Culinary and Baking and Pastry Arts in British Columbia and working in some of Vancouver’s finest kitchens, he returned home to further his own individual style as a chef. He opened his first restaurant, Aqua, at the age of 26 and his second more casual gastro-pub, The Club, at the age of 29. Mark is living his dream, cooking the food he loves to cook and doing it in the place and for the people that mean so much to him. Island Kitchen will be an extension of Mark’s love for the island and the food and producers that make it such a special place.

wangerskyRussell Wangersky is a writer, editor, and columnist from St. John”s, Newfoundland. His five books include Whirl Away, a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and winner of the Thomas Head Raddall Award for Fiction, Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself, a memoir of his years as a volunteer firefighter, which was a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book, won the BC National Award for Nonfiction, the Edna Staebler Non-Fiction Award, and The Glass Harmonica winner of the BMO Winterset Award. He works at the St. John’s Telegram as the editorial page editor.

demariaffiElisabeth de Mariaffi is the Giller Prize-nominated author of one book of short stories, How To Get Along With Women (Invisible Publishing, 2012) and the new novel, The Devil You Know (HarperCollins, Canada; Simon & Schuster, USA 2015). Her poetry and short fiction have been widely published in magazines across Canada. In 2013, her story “Kiss Me Like I’m the Last Man on Earth” was shortlisted for a National Magazine Award.Elisabeth now makes her home in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she lives with the poet George Murray, their combined four children and a border collie — making them CanLit’s answer to the Brady Brunch.


Country-folk trio The Secrets, comprised of Newfoundland natives Karla Pilgrim, Terri Lynn Eddy and Renée Batten – all three accomplished singers and solo musicians – met in college. They quickly discovered a natural blend to their voices and musical aspirations, traded jigs and reels for whiskey, mandolins and faded jeans, and haven’t looked back. Their debut album, Break Even was named Country Recording of the Year at the 2014 MusicNL Awards, and nominated for a 2015 ECMA in this same category. The Secrets repertoire is built on a foundation of classic country hits infused with an impressive, and ever-growing catalogue of country-folk originals. With their gift of voice and seemingly effortless natural harmony, coupled with their individual talent and skill as musicians, The Secrets fresh delivery of their chosen work is authentic, exciting and thoroughly entertaining for all who see and hear them.

whatoddshiWhat Odds — Wanda Crocker, Gerry Strong, Jean Hewson and Rick West are all long-time contributors to the Newfoundland traditional music scene. They have played with each other in sessions and in various combinations on stage over the years without unfortunate incident. So, why not answer Newfoundland’s desperate need for another traditional band and find fame and fortune before geezerhood takes over entirely? “What odds, may as well”, they thought and hatched WHAT ODDS in the (very early) spring of 2013. The rest is unwritten history.