Karen Connelly was UNB’s eleventh writer-in-residence for the 1993-1994 academic year. Connelly began writing poetry at the age of eleven, and in 1988 she had received a Junior Writer's Grant from the Alberta Foundation for Literary Arts. This grant allowed her to travel to Thailand to do some schooling while she was seventeen - the writing that came out of this time in Thailand would be what eventually came to be her travel memoir Touch the Dragon. She taught English as a second language for a while in Spain after this time in Thailand. In 1991, Connelly had won the Pat Lowther Award for the best book of poetry published by a Canadian woman in the preceding year for her poetry book entitled The Small Words in my Body. In 1992 she recieved grants from the Canada Council and the Alberta Foundation for Literary Arts so she could continue to devote time to her craft. The youngest writer-in-residence ever at the University of New Brunswick, Connelly had produced two books of poetry by 1993 and had already arranged to have her Thailand travel book Touch the Dragon published in the fall of 1993. She was awarded the 1993 Governor General’s Award for English Language Non-fiction for her book/travel memoir Touch the Dragon at only twenty-four years old, making her the youngest winner of the award.
Karen Connelly was originally only going to be the writer-in-residence for the first term of that academic year due to financial difficulties in receiving the funding needed for both terms, but during a reception held on November 30th (in the Alumni Memorial Building) which was honoring Connelly's Governor General's Award, UNB's president at the time Robin Armstrong extended the writer's tenure to the end of spring.
Connelly gave her first public reading on September 20th in Memorial Hall. She held her last reading as writer-in-residence on February 9th, 1994 with some short stories in Memorial Hall. English professor Mary Rimmer said that Connelly was valued for “her writing as well as her communication skills.” In 2007 Karen Connelly won the Orange Broadband Award for New Writers with her novel The Lizard Cage.
UA Case 191; Section 2; Karen Connelly
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