Stories from Here

The Upstart Writers Residency. Applications closed.

Are you a writer with a powerful story or a bold idea that could benefit from a writers’ residency to bring to life?

Upstart & Crow invites you to apply for our Upstart & Crow Writers Residency. 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.

It’s a chance to bring something brilliant into the world.

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 2023, 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.

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 (most recently as editor in chief of The Tyee for seven years) 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:

  • Jeanette Ageson is publisher of The Tyee, an award-winning non-profit news organization based in Vancouver. She leads all Tyee operations and revenue-generating activity, including growing its base of paying members, called Tyee Builders. She holds a degree in communications from Simon Fraser University and is an alumna of the Online News Association Women’s Leadership Accelerator.
  • Jorge Amigo is the Head of Cultural Programming at the Vancouver Public Library, where he is responsible for arts and culture events, including exhibitions and performances. He is also part of the Board of Directors of the PuSh Festival and the Indian Summer Arts Society.
  • Billy-Ray Belcourt is a writer from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He is an Assistant Professor in the School of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of four books: This Wound is a WorldNDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the FieldA History of My Brief Body, and A Minor Chorus.
  • Zoe Grams is an entrepreneur, writer and communications strategist. Her current roles include principal of Zg Stories, a B-Corporation storytelling agency; co-founder and curator of Upstart & Crow Literary Arts Studio; and co-chair of WISH Drop In Centre Society, the largest sex worker advocacy organization in Canada. 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.

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 14.


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.