Itani

Frances
Itani

Image Credit – Maggie Knaus

Frances Itani, C.M., was born in Belleville, Ontario, one of five children, and at the age of four moved to the tiny Québec village of Deschênes, beside the Deschênes Rapids on the Ottawa River. She attended three rural one-room schools before a community school was built in South Hull. She loved to read, but could never get her hands on enough books. After completing High School in Hull, Québec, at the age of 15, she worked for two years as a Cost Accountant for a General Motors firm in Hull (now Gatineau), learning early on how to support herself. From Hull, she moved to Montréal, where she studied Nursing at the Montréal General Hospital for three years. After graduation, she worked as an Intensive Care Nurse at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, and then moved to England for a year, working as an Executive Secretary, and travelling throughout Europe and Russia.

From England she moved to Duke University in North Carolina where she studied and practised Recovery and Post-Op Nursing in the university-hospital setting. She went on to McGill to study graduate nursing, and worked part-time at the Montréal Neurological Institute while putting herself through school. After a year at McGill, in 1967 she was hired as a Classroom and Clinical Nursing Instructor and Director of Inservice Education at the Royal Edward Chest Institute on rue Saint-Urbain in Montréal. While moving about, she also practised Nursing in hospital settings for short periods in Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and British Columbia.

Frances eloped with her husband, Ted, in the late sixties in Montréal, and had two children in the early 70s, which is when she began to switch careers. While her children were babies and of pre-school age, she studied during the evenings and summers, graduating from the Univ of Alberta with a B.A. in Psychology, and from the Univ of New Brunswick with an M.A. in English Literature. During this period, she also travelled to Japan.

1963 – R.N. Montreal General Hospital School of Nursing

1965-66 – graduate work at Duke University Hospital

1966-67 – Graduate Nursing studies McGill University, Montreal (Teaching & Administration)

1974 – B.A. in Psychology, University of Alberta (Edmonton)(Studied with W.O. Mitchell and Rudy Wiebe)

1980 – M.A. in English Literature, University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) (Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Fred Cogswell). During her studies at UNB she was awarded a Senior Fellowship and worked as editorial assistant to Fred Cogswell at Fiddlehead Poetry Books.

Between 1980-83 Frances lived in a village on the outskirts of Heidelberg – in what was then West Germany – where she raised her children, travelled, studied the language and continued to write. She has been writing professionally since the 70s, has won many awards and honours, and has published 18 books (best-selling novels, stories, poetry and children’s works), as well as articles, essays and reviews for a wide range of North American newspapers, journals and magazines, including the Washington Post, Canadian Geographic, Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, Saturday Night, Brick, Toronto Life, Ottawa City Magazine, The Ottawa Citizen, Canadian Literature, The Gazette, etc. Her work has been widely anthologized and she has contributed chapters to several books about the writers’ craft. Her books have been translated and published in 18 countries. She also co-edited, with Susan Zettell, One of the Chosen, a collection of stories by her former student, the late Danuta Gleed. She was advisor for 16 years to the annual Danuta Gleed Literary Award, which is administered by The Writers’ Union of Canada.

She has written stories, drama and poetry for CBC Radio, and is a three-time winner of the CBC Literary Award (1st prize 1995 and 1996; 3rd prize 1984). CBC Radio aired several features about her work, including readings/dramatization of her books Leaning, Leaning Over Water; and a children’s book, Linger by the Sea. In 1977, she wrote a 60-minute drama for CBC Radio, Keepers of the Cranes, directed and produced by Jean Bartels for CBC Stage, starring Frances Hyland, Eve Crawford, David Hemblen and John Stocker. Her work has been read or dramatized by CBC State of the Arts, Richardson’s Roundup, Between the Covers, CBC Anthology, This Country in the Morning and Take Five. In 1987, two stage-plays in progress were workshopped by The Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa.

Frances is well known as a researcher, teacher and public speaker, and has been Writer-in-Residence many times at Trent, Univ. of New Brunswick, Nepean Public Library, Banff Centre and, in 2018 for the Arts Council of the Haliburton Highlands. She has taught several times at The Banff Centre, and participated in the Banff International Literary Translation Program in 2004. She returned to Banff again in 2011 to teach Historical Fiction. She taught evening classes in Creative Writing at University of Ottawa from 1985-92. Between 1996-98, she was Poetry Editor for The Canadian Forum. In 2013-14, she mentored an Ottawa student for MASC, for a year and remains in contact as a mentor. Frances has judged national, provincial, city and regional writing competitions and has served on and chaired literary juries for Canada Council, CBC Awards, The Ontario Arts Council, The Writers’ Union of Canada, The Writers’ Development Trust, Q-Spell, Vicki Metcalf Award, Chapters/Indigo, Embassy of Japan, W.O. Mitchell Literary Prize, Carleton University, Kobzar Award and others.

She was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2006. In 2009 she was awarded a 6-week Fellowship by the Civitella Foundation at a castle in Italy, Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, where she resided with other international artists and worked on her novel, Requiem.

In 2012 she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2019 she was awarded The Library and Archives Canada Scholar’s Award. In 2021 The Writers’ Trust of Canada presented her with the Matt Cohen Award for a Distinguished Body of Work over a Lifetime of Writing.

Her involvement with the Arts has included conferences, retreats, workshops, teaching sessions, school visits, bookclub discussions, and countless readings in Canada, USA, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland and Australia. She served for two years on the Membership Committeee of TWUC (The Writers’ Union of Canada), is a member of PEN, TWUC and Access Copyright Canada. Her literary papers are held by the Literary Manuscripts Division of Library and Archives Canada.

Frances has been involved in humanitarian work all her life and has volunteered for literacy organizations such as ALSO and PWC in Ottawa; Big Sisters, Multiple Sclerosis Society, CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario), Habitat for Humanity, Ottawa Deaf Centre (where she also served on the Board of Directors), Overbrook-Forbes Community Centre and several other organizations. She has taught English to new immigrants and has volunteered in public schools and acted as mentor to young writers. In 1999, she established The Itani Family Award for Flute, which is presented annually to a young musician at the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy. She taught tai chi for a number of years and served as advisor and as a final judge for several years for Youth in Motion’s Top 20 Under 20 awards.

Frances has studied Latin, German, Japanese, Spanish, French and American Sign Language and is able to get by in varying degrees in some of these. Though she is not fluent in any but her first language, English, she loves the study of languages, nonetheless. She also has a great love of music and film, enjoys walking and tai chi, and participates in regular fitness classes in Yoga and weight-lifting. She lives and works in Ottawa. – Source – Author’s Website

Image Credit – Maggie Knaus

Frances Itani, C.M., was born in Belleville, Ontario, one of five children, and at the age of four moved to the tiny Québec village of Deschênes, beside the Deschênes Rapids on the Ottawa River. She attended three rural one-room schools before a community school was built in South Hull. She loved to read, but could never get her hands on enough books. After completing High School in Hull, Québec, at the age of 15, she worked for two years as a Cost Accountant for a General Motors firm in Hull (now Gatineau), learning early on how to support herself. From Hull, she moved to Montréal, where she studied Nursing at the Montréal General Hospital for three years. After graduation, she worked as an Intensive Care Nurse at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, and then moved to England for a year, working as an Executive Secretary, and travelling throughout Europe and Russia.

From England she moved to Duke University in North Carolina where she studied and practised Recovery and Post-Op Nursing in the university-hospital setting. She went on to McGill to study graduate nursing, and worked part-time at the Montréal Neurological Institute while putting herself through school. After a year at McGill, in 1967 she was hired as a Classroom and Clinical Nursing Instructor and Director of Inservice Education at the Royal Edward Chest Institute on rue Saint-Urbain in Montréal. While moving about, she also practised Nursing in hospital settings for short periods in Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and British Columbia.

Frances eloped with her husband, Ted, in the late sixties in Montréal, and had two children in the early 70s, which is when she began to switch careers. While her children were babies and of pre-school age, she studied during the evenings and summers, graduating from the Univ of Alberta with a B.A. in Psychology, and from the Univ of New Brunswick with an M.A. in English Literature. During this period, she also travelled to Japan.

1963 – R.N. Montreal General Hospital School of Nursing

1965-66 – graduate work at Duke University Hospital

1966-67 – Graduate Nursing studies McGill University, Montreal (Teaching & Administration)

1974 – B.A. in Psychology, University of Alberta (Edmonton)(Studied with W.O. Mitchell and Rudy Wiebe)

1980 – M.A. in English Literature, University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) (Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Fred Cogswell). During her studies at UNB she was awarded a Senior Fellowship and worked as editorial assistant to Fred Cogswell at Fiddlehead Poetry Books.

Between 1980-83 Frances lived in a village on the outskirts of Heidelberg – in what was then West Germany – where she raised her children, travelled, studied the language and continued to write. She has been writing professionally since the 70s, has won many awards and honours, and has published 18 books (best-selling novels, stories, poetry and children’s works), as well as articles, essays and reviews for a wide range of North American newspapers, journals and magazines, including the Washington Post, Canadian Geographic, Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, Saturday Night, Brick, Toronto Life, Ottawa City Magazine, The Ottawa Citizen, Canadian Literature, The Gazette, etc. Her work has been widely anthologized and she has contributed chapters to several books about the writers’ craft. Her books have been translated and published in 18 countries. She also co-edited, with Susan Zettell, One of the Chosen, a collection of stories by her former student, the late Danuta Gleed. She was advisor for 16 years to the annual Danuta Gleed Literary Award, which is administered by The Writers’ Union of Canada.

She has written stories, drama and poetry for CBC Radio, and is a three-time winner of the CBC Literary Award (1st prize 1995 and 1996; 3rd prize 1984). CBC Radio aired several features about her work, including readings/dramatization of her books Leaning, Leaning Over Water; and a children’s book, Linger by the Sea. In 1977, she wrote a 60-minute drama for CBC Radio, Keepers of the Cranes, directed and produced by Jean Bartels for CBC Stage, starring Frances Hyland, Eve Crawford, David Hemblen and John Stocker. Her work has been read or dramatized by CBC State of the Arts, Richardson’s Roundup, Between the Covers, CBC Anthology, This Country in the Morning and Take Five. In 1987, two stage-plays in progress were workshopped by The Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa.

Frances is well known as a researcher, teacher and public speaker, and has been Writer-in-Residence many times at Trent, Univ. of New Brunswick, Nepean Public Library, Banff Centre and, in 2018 for the Arts Council of the Haliburton Highlands. She has taught several times at The Banff Centre, and participated in the Banff International Literary Translation Program in 2004. She returned to Banff again in 2011 to teach Historical Fiction. She taught evening classes in Creative Writing at University of Ottawa from 1985-92. Between 1996-98, she was Poetry Editor for The Canadian Forum. In 2013-14, she mentored an Ottawa student for MASC, for a year and remains in contact as a mentor. Frances has judged national, provincial, city and regional writing competitions and has served on and chaired literary juries for Canada Council, CBC Awards, The Ontario Arts Council, The Writers’ Union of Canada, The Writers’ Development Trust, Q-Spell, Vicki Metcalf Award, Chapters/Indigo, Embassy of Japan, W.O. Mitchell Literary Prize, Carleton University, Kobzar Award and others.

She was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2006. In 2009 she was awarded a 6-week Fellowship by the Civitella Foundation at a castle in Italy, Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, where she resided with other international artists and worked on her novel, Requiem.

In 2012 she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2019 she was awarded The Library and Archives Canada Scholar’s Award. In 2021 The Writers’ Trust of Canada presented her with the Matt Cohen Award for a Distinguished Body of Work over a Lifetime of Writing.

Her involvement with the Arts has included conferences, retreats, workshops, teaching sessions, school visits, bookclub discussions, and countless readings in Canada, USA, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland and Australia. She served for two years on the Membership Committeee of TWUC (The Writers’ Union of Canada), is a member of PEN, TWUC and Access Copyright Canada. Her literary papers are held by the Literary Manuscripts Division of Library and Archives Canada.

Frances has been involved in humanitarian work all her life and has volunteered for literacy organizations such as ALSO and PWC in Ottawa; Big Sisters, Multiple Sclerosis Society, CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario), Habitat for Humanity, Ottawa Deaf Centre (where she also served on the Board of Directors), Overbrook-Forbes Community Centre and several other organizations. She has taught English to new immigrants and has volunteered in public schools and acted as mentor to young writers. In 1999, she established The Itani Family Award for Flute, which is presented annually to a young musician at the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy. She taught tai chi for a number of years and served as advisor and as a final judge for several years for Youth in Motion’s Top 20 Under 20 awards.

Frances has studied Latin, German, Japanese, Spanish, French and American Sign Language and is able to get by in varying degrees in some of these. Though she is not fluent in any but her first language, English, she loves the study of languages, nonetheless. She also has a great love of music and film, enjoys walking and tai chi, and participates in regular fitness classes in Yoga and weight-lifting. She lives and works in Ottawa. – Source – Author’s Website

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