Ivan Coyote was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. An award-winning author of six collections of short stories, one novel, three CD’s, four short films and a renowned performer.
Ivan is good old-fashioned kitchen table stories. Imagine you are drinking black tea with canned milk, and it is snowing outside. The kitchen smells like homemade soup, and you don’t have to work tomorrow so you can sit up all night talking and smoking cigarettes. Or maybe it is a warm night in the middle of July, and you are sitting on a wool blanket in the sand, resting your back against a big-beached log. The lake is smooth as glass and there is plenty of wood for the campfire. Someone is talking, telling you a story.
Ivan Coyote was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. An award-winning author of six collections of short stories, one novel, three CD’s, four short films and a renowned performer, Ivan’s first love is live storytelling, and over the last thirteen years she has become an audience favourite at music, poetry, spoken word and writer’s festivals from Anchorage to Amsterdam.
Ivan began performing in 1992, and in 1996 co-founded Taste This, a four person performance troupe that combined live music, storytelling and performance poetry to create a text-driven genre-busting collaborative exchange. Taste This toured North America extensively and in 1998 the four artists published Boys Like Her, a critically acclaimed book that took the stage show to the printed page. Boys Like Her sold out three editions and continues to be considered a notable Canadian contribution to the dialogue around gender identity and sexuality.
Ivan teamed up with Arsenal Pulp Press in 2000, and has since released five books. Close to Spiderman (2000) was runner up for the Danuta Gleed Award for short fiction. Then came One Man’s Trash (2002) and Loose End (2005), which was short listed for the Ferro Grumley Award, and was a finalist for the 2008 Vancouver Public Library’s One Book, One Vancouver. Ivan’s first novel Bow Grip (2006) was also short listed for the Ferro Grumley Award, and won the 2007 ReLit Award for best fiction. Her latest collection of short stories, The Slow Fix, was released in September of 2008, and has been nominated for a 2009 Lambda Award.
Ivan is still fascinated by the intersection of storytelling and music, and works with a number of well-established Canadian musicians, including pianist and composer Veda Hille, songwriter Dan Mangan, folk artist Rae Spoon, cellist Cris Derksen, and violinist Lyndell Montgomery. Ivan is interested in collaborations where the text and the score are equal players, not just storytelling with musical accompaniment, but a conversation between two artists: the text is listening to the chord progressions and pacing itself with the downbeat, and the music is responding to what happens next in the story. Ivan has released two Cds of storytelling with music, You’re A Nation (2003) and You Are Here (2007). You Are Here is a recording of a full-length multi-media performance, scored by musician Rae Spoon and accompanied by a haunting visual backdrop of images of the Yukon in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
In 2001 Ivan landed a little gig teaching short fiction at Capilano College in North Vancouver. This little night school class led to an accidental discovery: Ivan loves to teach creative writing. She continued to teach short fiction and classes and workshops, and in 2007 was invited to become Carleton University’s writer in residence. While in Ottawa she taught a third year fiction class, and three memoir writing classes for senior citizens. It was while teaching seniors that Ivan realized her true calling. Ivan strongly believes in listening to the stories of our elders, and encouraging them to write down their lives. Not only did her memoir classes sell out, but several of her students continue to meet and workshop their writing together to this day. Ivan currently teaches memoir writing at the newly renamed Capilano University in North Vancouver.
In addition to her literary and teaching accomplishments, Ivan continues to tour extensively throughout North America and Europe, telling stories not only to festival audiences, but to high school students, social justice activists, transsexual autoworkers, adult literacy students, and senior citizens all across the continent. Ivan believes in the transformative power of storytelling, and that collecting and remembering oral history not only preserves a vital part of our families and where we come from, but that a good story can help inspire us to reinvent a better future.