Leslie Vryenhoek is a writer whose fiction, poetry and memoir explore the landscape of intimate relationships. Her writing has been published around the world, and has garnered critical acclaim and awards. Leslie is the author of four books, many audio essays and hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics. Central to her work are questions of what it means to belong, and how the uneven hand of fortune plays out across lives. Leslie also works as an editor and mentor with other writers, and as a communications professional. She lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
More about Leslie in this interview on Rhonda Douglas's blog
The Longer Story
Leslie grew up in the suburban south hills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her parents were Canadian, but the opinions expressed at the dinner table were very American and the debates were lively. As her parents drifted further right, Leslie took a sharp left and dreamed of living somewhere interesting, of writing books and pursuing lofty notions of do-goodedness. Her parents said, "Get a real job".
On summer visits to Manitoba, Leslie fell in love with the prairie and at 18, moved to the country her parents had fled. She completed a bachelor of arts at the University of Manitoba, had two daughters, and lived for two decades in Winnipeg. Real jobs included communications and public relations for the University of Winnipeg and the Canadian Red Cross.
In 2005, Leslie relocated to St. John's, Newfoundland (it's a long story, one with a U-Haul and a few sharp corners). There, Leslie leapt into the literary fray. Over the next 15 years, she published four books, edited a dozen more, founded and ran Piper's Frith: Writing at Kilmory, and served on the editorial board of Riddle Fence. She was also a director for Winterset in Summer Literary Festival, OchreFest and the St. John's International Women's Film Festival for several years.
Leslie worked for Memorial University and The Rooms in St. John's before joining the team at WIEGO, a global organization that works to secure livelihoods for informal workers. That work has taken her to Africa, Asia and Latin America, where she has interviewed and written about street vendors, waste pickers, domestic workers, coffee growers and garment workers.
As an editor, Leslie specializes in helping authors hone their words, smartening up (never dumbing down) complex ideas to create clear and compelling pieces.
Leslie is married to journalist and author Russell Wangersky. In 2021, the couple relocated to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They have, between them, four children, two grandchildren, and lively debates over the dinner table.