The Writers’ Alliance of NL (WANL) has revealed the names of this year’s two apprentices for its famed Mentorship Program. The program pairs new voices with established local writers who help their apprentices hone their skills, learn about the book industry, and sharpen their latest manuscripts, over an intensive 5-month period.

An independent jury has paired established poet and critic Mark Callahan with Matthew Hollett – best known until now as a visual artist. The second pairing will see Bridget Canning work with novelist, children’s author, and celebrated short story author Ed Kavanagh.

Canning’s manuscript is a young adult novel called Imogene Tubbs. “At the moment, I would describe it as a coming of age/family secrets/revenge driven/unrequited love story. It takes place in the late eighties/early nineties in a small community on the Southwest Coast of Newfoundland and in St. John’s.”

The mentorship program was voted by Overcast Readers as “The Best Opportunity for Emerging Writers in St. John’s.” For the past decade it has been solely funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, but as of this year, it secured itself a new co-sponsor.

Seeking to strengthen and diversify its support, WANL actively searched for an arts-friendly business partner. “We recognize that the arts play an important role in building vibrant communities and strong economies,” says Mike James, VP, Commercial Financial Services, RBC Royal Bank. “We are pleased to partner with the Writers’ Alliance on this great opportunity for emerging writers to advance their careers.”

The program costs its apprentices, like Bridget and Matthew nothing, while putting a fine chunk of cash in the pockets of its mentors. Past apprentices include many familiar names, including this year’s Winterset Award winner, Megan Coles.