Stories from Here

The Upstart Writers Residency.

We are thrilled to share that we are now accepting applications for the 2024 Upstart & Crow Writers Residency, taking place this spring.

Applications are due April 15, 2024.

This is our second year holding the residency. We are seeking to grant this year’s opportunity to a writer with a powerful story or a bold idea who requires some time, space and resources to bring it to life.

Like last year, we’re seeking to support the creation and publication of a work that pushes boundaries in form or content; a piece that sparks conversations or actions that should be happening right now, in a world of cascading systems failures — but bright possibilities.

We accept applications from those who wish to work in fiction or nonfiction, poetry or an oral project. The form is less important to us than the originality and energy of a story or idea itself, as well as your demonstrated ability to convincingly explore it.

The residency is designed for emerging and established writers who need space, time and resources to start and/or complete a finished project. The writer must be based in or have ties to British Columbia.

While in residence, our first grantee, RJ McDaniel, completed a draft of their book-length memoir manuscript. The support of the Upstart & Crow Writers Residency has been a pivotal moment in my journey as a writer,” they said of the experience, “and an empowering experience as I move forward in my career.

The Details:

The selected writer will receive a $4,000 stipend, be granted use of our beautiful mezzanine workspace for one month, and receive editorial support from the Upstart & Crow team. At the end of the residency, we will work with you to get your work published either in-house or with a publishing partner. The writer will hold the rights to future publication.

The residency will begin between May and July 2024, at the writer’s discretion.

We welcome applications from writers who wish to solely use the mezzanine space for their work, or work remotely, or a combination of both. We expect the project to be completed within three months. The location of the writer during this time is optional, but we prefer the writer is B.C. based or has ties to B.C.

The writer will be expected to participate in two public events within six months of the residency, the goal and nature of which will be decided in partnership with the Upstart & Crow team. This could include communing a focus group, holding a reading, or presenting the final product to the public.

We also hope to publish an excerpt or piece of the project in-house to share with our community, though the rights to any work created remain fully with the writer.

Why are we doing this? Our inspiration is simple. We love stories and we exist to share them. At a time when social media tends to drown out new ideas, our residency aims to promote and present them with creativity, quality and passion.

About Upstart & Crow:

Upstart & Crow Literary Arts Studio exists to share stories and to support the literary arts in Vancouver and beyond. Located on Granville Island, one of our city’s cultural hubs, we host live events and storytelling workshops, arrange conversations and collaborations between writers, and sell books from independent presses and under-discovered voices.

Our mezzanine writers’ studio is a beautiful and peaceful space, looking out over our bookshop. Our operations director, Robyn Smith, has a decade of experience as an editor and will offer editorial support for the project. Our team is well connected in the literary landscape, and we’re holding this residency to provide a stepping stone in a local writer’s journey.

Questions about the residency can be directed to hello [@]

About the Selection Process:

Applications will be assessed based on:

  • Originality of the idea or concept.
  • Importance of exploring the topic or bold idea in relation to current issues.
  • Perceived ability of the writer to execute their concept.
  • Writing style and quality of the application.
  • Priority will be given to Indigenous and other racialized applicants, or a candidate facing clear barriers in finding support for their writing work.

About the Jury:

  • Jorge Amigo is the Head of Cultural Programming at the Vancouver Public Library, where he is responsible for arts and culture events. He is also part of the Board of Directors of the Indian Summer Arts Society and sits on the City of Vancouvers Arts and Culture Advisory Committee.
  • Carleigh Baker is an nêhiyaw âpihtawikosisân /Icelandic writer who lives as a guest on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwu7mesh, and səl̓ilwəta peoples. Her new book is the short story collection Last Woman (McClelland & Stewart). Her work has appeared in Best Canadian Essays, The Short Story Advent Calendar, and The Journey Prize Stories. She also writes reviews for the Globe and Mail and the Literary Review of Canada. Her debut story collection, Bad Endings (Anvil, 2017) won the City of Vancouver Book Award.
  • Zoe Grams is an entrepreneur, writer and communications strategist. Her current roles include principal of Zg Stories, a B-Corporation storytelling agency; and co-founder of Upstart & Crow Literary Arts Studio. Her work and her writing has been featured in publications across the country. She lives on unceded Tla-o-qui-aht Ha-Hoothlee.
  • Am Johal is the director of SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement and co-director of SFU’s Community Engaged Research Initiative. He has taught courses in the Semester in Dialogue, School for Contemporary Arts, Graduate Liberal Studies and Urban Studies. He has served on the boards of 221A, the Indian Summer Festival, Vancity Community Foundation, the Vancouver International Film Festival, and the City of Vancouver Arts and Culture Committee. He is also an author.
  • Emi Sasagawa is a settler, immigrant and queer woman of colour, living and writing on the traditional, ancestral and stolen territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Selilwitulh Nations. Her debut novel Atomweight, was published in 2023 by Tidewater Press.

To Apply:

Complete our application form. We’ll ask for your contact information and a brief biography.

We also request a proposal, of no more than 500 words, summarizing your project, idea or focus. This should include something about the story you wish to tell or the bold idea you wish to pursue, why it’s so important for this to be widely disseminated, and any current thinking in the topic or subject area you wish to expand on. 

Applications should also include thoughts on how your creative endeavour will recognize and contribute positively to the lands and waters of the xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) host First Nations, on which Upstart & Crow is located.

You don’t need previous publishing experience to be the successful candidate, but keep in mind that we seek to support someone whose bold idea is already well-germinated so that the residency starts off strongly and the work can be finished in the time allocated. As such, writing portfolios are welcome but not required.


We are accepting applications until April 15, 2024.


We’re offering a $4,000 resident stipend to address one of the highest barriers to participation in the arts: low pay.

Once the resident writer is selected, we’ll work together to determine any access needs. Our studio mezzanine is not currently wheelchair or mobility device accessible. Public events generally take place in our wheelchair-accessible main space. Our washroom is accessible to mobility devices. Public events for the residency may include ASL interpreters and/or livestream capabilities for those unable to attend in-person.


We gratefully acknowledge that Upstart & Crow is located on the unceded territories of the xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Host First Nations. We ask that applicants articulate a plan for going beyond standard protocols in recognizing the Host First Nations (of which they might well be members). Our aim is to ensure any applicant’s creative endeavour stretches the boundaries of what it means to acknowledge the cultural complexities of working in place, whether it is their place or where they consider themselves to be guests.

With Further Thanks:

The Upstart & Crow Writers Residency is made possible thanks to funding from the City of Vancouver. We are grateful for their support.