Drew Hayden Taylor
During the last thirty years of his career, Drew Hayden Taylor has done many things, most of which he is proud of. An Ojibway from the Curve Lake First Nations in Ontario, he has worn many hats in his literary career, from performing stand-up comedy at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., to being Artistic Director of Canada’s premiere Native theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts. He has been an award-winning playwright, a journalist/columnist (appearing regularly in several Canadian newspapers and magazines), short-story writer, novelist, television scriptwriter, and has worked on numerous documentaries exploring the Native experience. Most notably as a filmmaker, he wrote and directed REDSKINS, TRICKSTERS AND PUPPY STEW, a documentary on Native humour for the National Film Board of Canada, and for CBC, co-created SEARCHING FOR WINNITOU, an exploration of Germany’s fascination with North American Indigenous culture.
As a playwright, Drew has proudly been a part of what he refers to as the contemporary Native Literary Renascence. An author of more than 20 plays (resulting in almost a hundred productions), his popular plays such as TORONTO AT DREAMER’S ROCK, ONLY DRUNKS AND CHILDREN TELL THE TRUTH, THE BERLIN BLUES, and COTTAGERS AND INDIANS have left their mark on the Canadian theatre scene.
In the world of prose, he enjoys spreading the boundaries of what is considered Indigenous literature.
In 2007, Annick Press published his first Novel, THE NIGHT WANDERER: A Native Gothic Novel, a teen novel about an Ojibway vampire. 2010 saw the publication of his novel MOTORCYCLES & SWEETGRASS (Finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction). More recently, Douglas & McIntyre published a collection of his Native themed science fiction short stories, titled TAKE US TO YOUR CHIEF AND OTHER STORIES. This fall, a new novel titled CHASING PAINTED HORSES, published by Cormorant Press, will brings his publication total to 33 books.
His success as a writer has allowed him the opportunity to travel the world, spreading the gospel of Native literature. Through many of his non-fiction books, from the four volume set titled FUNNY, YOU DON’T LOOK LIKE ONE, to the ME FUNNY, ME SEXY, ME ARTSY series, he has tried to educate and inform the world about issues that reflect, celebrate, and interfere in the lives of Canada’s First Nations.
Self-described as a contemporary story teller, his exploration of the storytelling tradition has explored many boundaries. For example, he co-created and was the head writer for MIXED BLESSINGS, a television comedy series as well as contributed scripts to four other popular Canadian television series including BEACHCOMBERS and NORTH OF 60. In 2007, a made-for-tv movie he wrote, IN A WORLD CREATED BY A DRUNKEN GOD (based on his play which was a finalist for the Governor General Award for Drama) was nominated for three Gemini Awards, including Best Movie. In 2011 and 2012, he wrote the script for the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, now known as the INDSPIRE AWARDS
The last few years has seen him proudly serve as the Writer-In-Residence at the Berton House in Dawson City Yukon, the University of Michigan, the University of Western Ontario, University of Luneburg (Germany), Ryerson University, Wilfrid Laurier, as well as a host of Canadian theatre companies i.e. Cahoots theatre, Blyth Theatre etc.
The years of writing have brought him many accolades by his peers, including the Floyd S. Chalmers Award, Dora Mavor Moore Award and the Canadian Author’s Literary Award, He has also been the recipient of many other varied honours; an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Mount Allison University, a Plaque of Honour on the Peterborough Walk of Fame, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award, Ontario Premier’s Award for Creative Arts and Design, and Victoria Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement in Theatre, to name a few.
Oddly enough, the thing his mother was most proud of was his ability to make spaghetti from scratch.