The Ontario Poetry Society
Debbie Okun Hill ~

About TOPS










Ted Plantos Dedication






Debbie Okun Hill is a Life Member and Past President of The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS), a Member of The League of Canadian Poets, the Writers' Union of Canada, the Canadian Authors Association (Niagara Branch), The Lambton Writers Association, and the Lake Winnipeg Writers' Group.

One of her passions is promoting the work of other writers. Since 2014 she has written and posted over 155 features on her literary blog Kites Without Strings and for eight seasons (September 2005 to June 2013) she was also a co-host of a monthly open mic event in southwestern Ontario.

Her interest in words stems from her earlier writing career. She worked as a journalist at two rural newspapers and as a communication specialist with The Winnipeg Art Gallery, Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. When her first child was born, she juggled employment as a freelance writer, creating media releases, advertorials for local magazines and articles/stories for such international publications as Chicken Soup for the Soul and other inspirational books.

Since turning to poetry in 2003, over 415 of her poems have been published in over 150 different publications/websites including Descant, Existere, In/Words Magazine & Press, Juniper: A Poetry Journal, Poetry Pause, Synaeresis art + poetry, The Fieldstone Review, The Literary Review of Canada, The Quilliad, The Windsor Review, Vallum, Voices, and several TOPS anthologies including Arborealis. In the United States, her work has also appeared in Blast Furnace, LUMMOX, MOBIUS, phati'tude Literary Magazine, Philadelphia Poets, Still Point Arts Quarterly, TAMARACKS, The Binnacle, and Thema. Voices Israel published her poetry overseas.

Her free verse poem "In a Hospital Garden" was translated/printed in Chinese in North American Maple and ten of her poems were reprinted and translated in Greek in the anthology Hellenic Encounters (CANCYP Publications, 2018).

She has read her work throughout Ontario including the Fringe Stage of the 2011 Eden Mills Writers' Festival, The Artword ArtBar in Hamilton, The Art Bar Poetry Series in Toronto, and during the 2012 PoeTrain Express/Spring Pulse Poetry Festival in Cobalt. She also presented her work across the western Canadian provinces as part of the 2015 Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour and in Dearborn, Michigan in the United States.

Born/raised on the prairies, Okun Hill 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, took a half-day workshop with Don McKay in 2014, and was mentored by Harold Rhenisch for several months in 2017.

She now gardens words full-time in rural southwestern Ontario.

*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, Beret Days Press, 2015.

Selected Publications and Anthologies:

Tenfold: An Anthology of Poetry by 10 Life Members of The Ontario Poetry Society, Beret Days Press, 2019.

Hellenic Encounters, CANCYP Publications, 2018.

EnCompass I, Beret Days Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-897497-73-9

Published Chapbooks:
Chalk Dust Clouds, winner of The Ontario Poetry Society's 2017 Golden Grassroots Chapbook Contest, Beret Days Press, 2017.

Drawing from Experience, runner-up in The 1st Annual Big Pond Rumours Chapbook Contest, Big Pond Rumours Press, 2017.

Another Trail of Comet Dust: Poems Pulled from Earth, The Stanza Break Chapbook Series #43, Beret Days Press, 2011.

Swaddled in Comet Dust: A Collection of Award-winning Poems, The Stanza Break Chapbook Series #27, Beret Days Press, 2008.

Contest Judge:
She has judged numerous contests including the Brooklin Poetry Society Inaugural Poetry Contest, 2018; the Idea Exchange Cambridge Poetry Contest, Children's Poetry Category, 2016; TOPS Golden Grassroots Chapbook Award, 2019; TOPS The Ultra Short Poem Competition, 2015; TOPS Double Your Pleasure Poetry Contest, 2013; and TOPS Emerging from the Shadows Poetry Contest, 2010.

Writing Awards for Poetry:

*2007 Ted Plantos Memorial Award

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

*1st place, TOPS Golden Grassroots 2017 Chapbook Award, The Lah Dee Dah Dee Dah Poetry Contest 2009, and The No Matter What Shape Your Poem is Contest (Haiku Category) 2005

*1st place, The Lake Winnipeg Writers' Group 2018 Write On the Lake Contest (Adult Poetry category)

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

*2nd place, TOPS The Ultra Short Poem Competition 2014

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

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

*3rd place, Big Pond Rumours's 2017 Chapbook Contest; TOPS 2016 Arborealis Prize for Poetry, Food for Thought Poetry Competition, 2014, and The Ultra Short Poem Competition, 2014; Writers' Federation of New Brunswick (WFNB) 2010 Literary Competition (Individual Poem Category); and 2006 Toward the Light Poetry Contest (Adult Category).

**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 plus TOPS Golden Grassroots Chapbook Award, 2013.

*Honourable Mention/Judges Selection awards in various other contests organized by: Ascent Aspirations Magazine, Big Pond Rumours, The Binnacle, Canadian Author's Association (Niagara Branch), Canadian Poetry Association (CPA), Craigleigh Press, Cranberry Tree Press, Dr. William Henry Drummond Poetry , and The Ontario Poetry Society 2004 to 2018.

Contact Information:
Debbie Okun Hill
Website Blog