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~ Debbie Okun Hill ~

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Debbie Okun Hill has been writing for over 30 years but has only been focusing on poetry since 2003. She is an experienced journalist/communication specialist, previously employed at two rural newspapers as well as The Winnipeg Art Gallery, Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. As a freelance writer, she wrote media releases, advertorials for local magazines and had work published in such international publications as Chicken Soup for the Soul and other inspirational books.

In addition to reading and writing, she loves to promote the work of other writers. For eight seasons (September 2005 to June 2013) she co-hosted Spoken Word, a monthly open mic event for poets and storytellers in the Sarnia-Lambton area and was named The Ontario Poetry Society's Member of the Year, 2007 for her volunteer work with the organization. She has read her work throughout Ontario including the Fringe Stage of the 2011 Eden Mills Writers Festival, the 2012 PoeTrain Express/Spring Pulse Poetry Festival in Cobalt and the Artword Artbar in Hamilton. She has also been invited to read in such Canadian cities as Fredericton, Calgary, and Vancouver.

Born/raised on the prairies, Debbie earned a Diploma in Applied Arts, Creative Communication Program from Red River Community College and has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Lakehead University. From 2001 to 2005, she returned to her studies and completed on-line college courses on creative writing and poetry as well as in-class workshops with Brian Henry. In 2012 she attended a poetry retreat led by Allan Briesmaster and in 2014 took a half-day workshop with Don McKay. She now gardens words full-time in rural southwestern Ontario.

Memberships:
The Ontario Poetry Society, 2004 - Present (Executive Member Jan. 2007 - Dec. 2013)
League of Canadian Poets, Full member June 2014 - Present, Associate 2009 - 2014
Writers in Transition (WIT), 2002 - December 2013
AfterHours Poets, 2012 - Present
Lambton Writers' Association, Jan. 2014 - Present
Grants:
*2013-2014 Ontario Arts Council Writers' Reserve
*2012-2013 Ontario Arts Council Writers' Reserve
Books Published:
Tarnished Trophies In her first full collection of poems by a trade publisher, Debbie Okun Hill leaps from the bleachers into the light and shadow of the sports world. According to John B. Lee, the Poet Laureate of the city of Brantford "these poems are not without humour…and the bittersweet is not too sweet, not too bitter." Sarnia author Norma West Linder adds "the judicial use of original metaphor makes this collection a rewarding experience for the reader". Black Moss Press, 2014 ISBN 978-0-88753-528-4 88-pages, http://blackmosspress.com/debbie-okun-hill/

Anthologies Edited and Compiled:
MINDSHADOWS - A Canadian Poetry Anthology featuring the work of participating members of The Ontario Poetry Society. Scheduled for release in the Summer 2015.

Selected Publications and Anthologies:
EnCompass I, a 75-page anthology edited and compiled by Kate Marshall Flaherty and featuring the work of Canadian poets Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews, Debbie Okun Hill, Bernice Lever, Lynn Tait and Jan Wood; Beret Days Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-897497-73-9

Since the Fall 2004, over 275 of her poems have been or will be published in over 101 different Canadian anthologies, websites, and magazines, including Descant, Existere, Vallum, The Windsor Review, Other Voices, Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine, And Left a Place to Stand On: Poems and Essays on Al Purdy, Ascent Aspirations Magazine, Whisky Sour City, Leaf Press 'Monday's Poem' and several TOPS anthologies including Arborealis and Executive Sweet. In the United States, her work has also appeared in several issues of MOBIUS, The Binnacle, Still Point Arts Quarterly, Thema, phati'tude Literary Magazine, and Blast Furnace. Her free verse poem "In a Hospital Garden" was translated/printed in Chinese in North American Maple.

Published Chapbooks:
Swaddled in Comet Dust: A Collection of Award-winning Poems, The Stanza Break Chapbook Series #27, Beret Days Press, 2008, ISBN 978-1-897497-10-4 24-pages

Another Trail of Comet Dust: Poems Pulled from Earth, The Stanza Break Chapbook Series #43, Beret Days Press, 2011, ISBN 978-1-897497-53-1 24-pages

Contest Judge:
TOPS Emerging from the Shadows Poetry Contest, 2010. Results compiled in the chapbook Emerging Stars, Beret Days Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1-897497-42-5 21 pages

TOPS Double Your Pleasure Poetry Contest, 2013; Results compiled in the chapbook Two Pens on a Page - A Canadian Anthology of Co-Authored Verse, Beret Days Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-897497-80-7

Writing Awards for Poetry:
*2007 Ted Plantos Memorial Award

*2011 Editor-in-Chief Choice Award from Mobius Magazine

*1st place, The Ontario Poetry Society's (TOPS) No Matter What Shape Your Poem is Contest 2005 and The Lah Dee Dah Dee Dah Poetry Contest 2009

*1st place, The Sarnia-Lambton Alzheimer Society "Forget Me Not" Writing Contest (Adult Poetry) 2013; 2nd place in 2012

*2nd place, Canadian Poetry Association (CPA) Annual Membership Poetry Contest 2006

*2nd place in Adult Category, 2007 Dan Sullivan Memorial Poetry Contest

*3rd place in Individual Poem Category, Writers' Federation of New Brunswick (WFNB) 2010 Literary Competition

*3rd place in Adult Category, 2006 Toward the Light Poetry Contest

*Shortlisted in FreeFall 2008 Prose and Poetry Contest

*Finalist in the West End Writers 2009 Writing Contest

*Third Honourable Mention in Mobius Magazine's the fourth Dr. Zylpha Mapp Robinson International Poetry Award Contest and in The Ontario Poetry Society's 2013 Golden Grassroots Chapbook Award

*Honourable Mention awards in various other contests: Ascent Aspirations Magazine Anthology Five Poetry Competition 2008; Big Pond Rumours Poetry Contest Summer 2006; The Binnacle's Annual Ultra-Short Competitions 2010 to 2012; Canadian Author's Association (Niagara Branch) The Saving Bannister anthology contest 2011; Canadian Poetry Association (CPA) Annual Membership Poetry Contest in 2006 and 2007; and numerous contests organized by The Ontario Poetry Society 2004 to 2013

*Judges Selections award from Canadian Author's Association (Niagara Branch) The Saving Bannister anthology contests in 2004, 2007 to 2012; plus Cranberry Tree Press Themed Poetry Anthology Contests in 2006 to 2008

Contact Information:
Debbie Okun Hill
E-mail: Debbie

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