bio & press kit

Juliane Okot Bitek has never stopped exploring the power of narrative, focusing her essays, poetry and nonfiction work on political and social issues.  Her work has been published widely on-line, in print and in literary magazines such as Event, The Capilano Review, Room, Arc, Whetstone, Fugue, and recently anthologized  in Love Me True: Writers Reflect on the Ups, Downs, Ins & Outs of MarriageTransition: Writing Black Canadas, Great Black North; Contemporary African Canadian Poetry and Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them. Juliane’s 100 Days (University of Alberta 201) was shortlisted for several writing prizes including the 2017 Pat Lowther Award (League of Canadian Poets), 2017 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (BC Book Prizes), 2017 Canadian Authors Award for Poetry (Canada Authors Association), Alberta Book Awards, Robert Kroetsch Award for Poetry. 100 Days won the 2017 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award for Poetry and the 2017 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry.

100 Days (University of Alberta Press, 2016) is a poetic response to the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  Inspired by the photographs of Wangechi Mutu, Juliane wrote a poem a day for a hundred days and posted them on this website and on social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. The poems were exhibited at the Lobby Gallery for the Liu Institute for Global Issues in summer 2015 as Resisting Voice: A Selection of Poems from #kwibuka20#100days. and featured in Zocalo Poets as they emerged during the summer of 2014.

Sublime: Lost Words (The Elephants 2017) is an open access poetry chapbook available for download as an ePub or PDF. (International readers, please note the instruction for a North American postal code at The Elephants shop).

In 2004, Juliane’s short story Going Home won a special mention in the 2004 Commonwealth Short Story Contest, and was featured on the BBC and CBC; War No More, won first prize in a StopWar post-secondary essay competition in 2005. On Iris Chang’s Rape of Nanking, won a special mention in 2006 and is included in an anthology of winning essays from that year.

In 2007, Juliane received a Canada Council grant which supported her writing a collection of non-fiction. Her essays have been published on as well as her book review on Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s fine novel, Dust.

Juliane Okot Bitek holds a Master’s Degree in English and a BFA in Creative Writing, and is currently a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Students Graduate Program at the University of British Columbia’s Liu Institute for Global Issues.  Her doctoral research focuses on the impact of social forgetting on citizenship through the exploration of the quiet story of a 1979 naval accident where several Ugandan exiles lost their lives.

Along with northern Ugandan women’s advocate Grace Acan, she has co-authored a book Stories from the Dry Season (unpublished).  Some excerpts from that book can be found here in African Writing Online and here in Maple Tree Literary Supplement.  Juliane has been an invited poet at the Medellin International Poetry Festival (2008) Colombia (2008) and V Festivale Internacionale de Poesia en Granada (2009) Nicaragua.  She continues to write and speak about issues of home, homeland, exile, citizenship and diaspora.

Juliane has been a Poetry Ambassador for the City of Vancouver, working under the auspices of Vancouver Poet Laureate Rachel Rose.

Juliane Okot Bitek

Juliane Okot Bitek photo: Colleen Butler 793×720

Juliane Okot Bitek

Juliane Okot Bitek photo: Kalina Kojwang 308×325

Click on images to download.