Nancy Holmes, MFA

Emeritus Faculty

Creative Studies

Research Summary

Creative Writing: Poetry, Creative Non-Fiction & Fiction; Canadian literature; Ecopoetics; Community-based Art; Place-based art; Collaboration and interdisciplinary research methods; Sustainability; First World War poetry; Early 20th century literature for girls; Editing; Place, community, and artistic collaboration.


Nancy Holmes has published six collections of poetry, mostly recently Arborophobia (University of Alberta Press, 2022). Her last publication, The Flicker Tree: Okanagan Poems (Ronsdale Press, 2012), is a collection of poems about the place, people, plants and animals of the Okanagan valley in the southern interior of British Columbia.  She is also the editor of Open Wide a Wilderness: Canadian Nature Poems (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009).  With her colleague Denise Kenney in Interdisciplinary Performance, she worked on several initiatives of the Eco Art Incubator, a large scale research project  federally funded  by SSHRC (Canada’s Social Science and Humanities Research Council .  She has just completed work on another  SSHRC funded project with research partner Dr. Cameron Cartiere of Emily Carr University of Art + Design called Border Free Bees which harnessed the power of art to raise awareness and to develop initiatives to protect native pollinators, especially bees, in both the lower mainland of British Columbia and the Okanagan.   Nancy has been both Head of the Department of Creative Studies and the Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC.



Masters of Arts, English and Creative Writing, University of Calgary, 1990; Bachelor of Arts, English Honours, University of Calgary, 1982

Research Interests & Projects

Place, community, and artistic collaboration have become her latest interests, joining her commitment to the writing and teaching of poetry and fiction. Over the past few years, she has become increasingly active in eco-themed community-based art projects with her students and other artists.

Community Art Projects

Mar 2018 – Jun 2018 “The Kelowna Bee Ambassador Project”- a community art project to sign up over 200 citizens to become Bee Ambassadors in Kelowna and “The Bee Ambassador Sessions” two workshops on Bee ID and the art of photographing small things.

Jan 2017 – Aug 2017 “The Kelowna Nectar Trail”- a community art project to create a 7.4 km series of flowery footsteps for native bees in south Mission area of Kelowna and “The Nectar Trail Sessions” four workshops on planting for native bees and launching the project’s Bee ID app.

Jan 2016- present “The Public Art Pollinator Pasture”- a meadow planting and art project with the City of Kelowna and multiple community partners, including a community curriculum development for planting.

Jun 2015- Sept 2015 “Bee Central.” A community art project with four artists (Rhonda Neufeld, Samuel Roy-Bois, S. Megan Hunter, Lor Mairs). Facilitated by Nancy Holmes. The Brent’s Grist Mill Heritage park, Leckie Ave, Kelowna BC.

Apr 2013- Apr 2015 “Dig Your Neighbourhood.” A large student/ community art project- 37 artworks created by student writers and artists with works delivered to the Welcome Wagon for delivery to newcomers to Kelowna neighbourhoods. Facilitated and produced by Nancy Holmes.

Jul 2013 – Aug 2014 “The Yellow School House Project.” A community art project with over 40 local artists) Workshops facilitated by and exhibition curated and produced by Nancy Holmes and Denise Kenney (50% each). The Peachland Community Art Council gallery, Beach Avenue, Peachland BC.

Jun 2012 “Vivarium.” A community eco art workshop with 15 local artists, facilitated by Beth Carruthers. Produced by Denise Kenney and Nancy Holmes (50% each.) EECO Centre and Knox Mountain Park, Kelowna BC

Apr 2012- Sept 2012 “Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary”- a series of events and art projects for the general public on two dates, one in April, featuring stuent work, and one in September featuring local artists. Facilitated and curated by Nancy Holmes. Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary, Coldstream BC.

Apr 2010- Nov 2010 “The Woodhaven Eco Art Project”- 83 artists and 60 art projects curated, facilitated, and produced by Nancy Holmes and Lori Mairs (50% each). Woodhaven Nature Conservancy, 4711 Raymer Road, Kelowna BC

Selected Publications & Presentations

The Flicker Tree: Okanagan Poems. Vancouver BC: Ronsdale Press, 2012. 108 pages.

Mandorla. Vancouver BC: Ronsdale Press, 2005. 112 pages.

The Adultery Poems. Vancouver BC: Ronsdale Press, 2002. 89 pages.

Down to the Golden Chersonese: Victorian Lady Travellers. Victoria BC: Sono Nis, 1991. 114 pages.

Valancy and the New World. Vernon BC: Kalamalka New Writers Society, 1988. 61 pages.

Edited Books

Open Wide a Wilderness: Canadian Nature Poems. Ed. Nancy Holmes. Introduction by Don McKay. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2009. 511 pages.


With Denise Kenney. “Site-specific Performance and the Art of Not Leaving” Choreographic
Practices, 9:1 (2018): 31–43. doi: 10.1386/chor.9.1.31_1.

With Cameron Cartiere. “A Little Friendly Flagging Tape: A Conversation About Border Free Bees.” Public Art Dialogue Vol 6; Issue 2 (2016): 173- 183.

”’In Flanders Fields’ Canada’s Official Poem: Breaking Faith”’. Studies In Canadian Literature-Etudes En Litterature Canadienne 30.1 (2005): 11- 33.

Poem. “The Tribes of Grass.” Crannóg 47 (Spring 2018),]: 74. (Ireland)

Essay. “Flaubert’s Hummingbirds.” The Malahat Review 201 (Winter 2018): 55- 61.

Poem. “Pitted.” The New Quarterly Winter (2018): 108.

Poem. “Paths Taken.” FreeFall 27.1 (2017): 22-23.

Essay. “The Flowering Plum Tree: Bees, Science, and Sadness.” HAL: Hamilton Arts & Letters 9.1 (2016). Available at:
Poem. “Dementia, the Queen.” Winner of “Editor’s Choice in Poem of the Year Contest.” ARC Poetry Magazine, Summer 2014: 18-19.

Books Chapters

With Cameron Cartiere. “Design on the Wing: Collaborating with Nature.” Design & Nature. Edited by Kate Fletcher, Louise St Pierre, Mathilda Tham. Routledge, forthcoming.

“Romantic Novelist as Naturalist: John Foster and the Bird Woman”. L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s) Ed. Rita Bode and Jean Mitchell. McGill University Press, 2018. 58-73..

With Cameron Cartiere. “A Tale of Two Pastures: Sustainable Arts Research in the ‘Field’/ História De Duas Pastagens: Investigação Sustentável No ‘Campo’” In New Perspectives on Research in Arts Between Serendipity and Sustainability/ Novas Perspectivas sobre a Investigação em Artes Entre a Serendipidade e Sustentabilidade. Lisboa Portugal: Outubro, 2017. Engl 72-90. Port: 92-109.

“The Woodhaven Eco Art Project: Sustaining Collaboration.” Sustaining the West: Cultural Responses to Canadian Environments. Eds. Liza Piper and Lisa Szabo-Jones. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2015. 33-42.

Selected Grants & Awards

SSHRC Connections Grant: Border Free Bee Symposium, 2018

SSHRC Engage Grant: Citizen Science through the Artist Lens, 2018

World Wildlife Federation: Community Go Wild Grant Eco Community Projects: The Kelowna Bee Ambassador Project, 2018

FCCS Faculty Research Support Fund: Border Free Bees Mapping Project, 2018

World Wildlife Federation: Telus Community Grants- Go Wild Eco Community Projects: The Kelowna Nectar Trail, 2017

SSHRC Partnership Development Grant: The Public Art Pollinator Project, 2015-2018

City of Kelowna Community Arts  Grant: Bee Central, 2015

UBCO- Okanagan Sustainability Institute: Okanagan Aesthetics, 2012-2013

SSHRC Aid to Conferences: Association for Literature, Environment and Culture in Canada Biennial Conference at UBC Okanagan, 2012

City of Kelowna Culture Projects Grant: Vivarium- An Eco Art Workshop,2012

SSHRC Research Creation Grant: The Eco Art Incubator, 2011-2014

Teaching Awards

Winner, Robert Kroetsch National Teaching Award, Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs, 2015
Co-Winner, Arts Educator Award, Central Okanagan Arts Council, 2015

Research Awards

Researcher of the Year Award (SSHRC category)—University of British Columbia Okanagan, March 2018.
Pollinator Advocate of Canada 2017, (SSHRC funded Border Free Bees project with Dr. Cameron Cartiere) North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), October 2017

Literary Awards

Winner, Malahat Review Creative Non-Fiction Award, Malahat Review, 2017
Winner, Editor’s Choice Award, Poem of the Year Contest, ARC Poetry Magazine. 2014
Nomination, Raymond Souster Award, League of Canadian Poets, 2013

Professional Services/Affiliations/Committees

Member:  Association of Literature, Environment and Culture in Canada;  and UBC Research Institutes BRAES and ICER

Graduate Supervisions

Fionncara MacEion Johnston, MFA Creative Writing, 2015-2017

Daan Hoekstra, MA IGS, 2014-2016

Emily Nilsen, (CGSM SSHRC recipient), MFA Creative Writing, 2013-2015

Kelly Shepherd, MFA IGS, Creative Writing, 2012-2014

Lori Mairs, (CGSM SSHRC recipient), MFA IGS, Visual Art, 2011-2013

John McGregor, MFA IGS, Creative Writing, 2011-2013

Portia Priegert, (CGSM SSHRC recipient), MFA IGS Creative Writing, 2010-2012

Annathea McLennan, MFA IGS Creative Writing, 2009-2011

* Nancy Holmes will not be accepting graduate students in 2022


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