Reading in Tamagawa Garden

Lys Morton

Essay Contest Winner, Lys Morton, Innovation Category, 2019-2020 

Lys Morton

Lys Morton has just finished a degree in Creative Writing at VIU (Class of 2020) and sees English classes as having been an important part of this process, as they provided a way of building broader knowledge of the literary world. In particular, the class that led to Lys's award-winning essay—ENGL 221: North American Indigenous Literatures, with Professor Nelson Gray—provided a means of situating specifically First Nations stories in relation to the larger literary world. Indeed, Lys's piece, “The Marrow Thieves, Coming-To, and the Ownership of Queer Narratives,” itself has a broader aim; beyond being part of an essay marked in an English course, its argument also functions, Lys says, as “a way to start holding space for all the Coming-Out and Coming-To stories that have yet to be told.”

As well as urging us to read the novel by Cherie Dimaline that the essay focused on (2017's The Marrow Thieves), Lys also recommends two recent works of autobiographical non-fiction that look at contemporary masculinities: Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man by Thomas Page McBee, and All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson.

As a recent graduate, Lys has some helpful advice for current and future students in English: “Breathe. Seriously. Release your shoulders, you’re going to be okay.” Lys also recommends taking classes “outside your wheelhouse.” You can read more of Lys's work at Lys Writes Now.