Kelly Kaur

By Meghan Power

For emerging Calgary writer Kelly Kaur, travelling to Bali was a pivotal experience as a newly published novelist. In October 2022, Kelly Kaur’s first novel, Letters to Singapore (Stonehouse Publishing, 2022) made its first international launch (previously launched in Canada) at the Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali — an annual international festival that features world renowned writers and thinkers such as Fatima Bhutto, Hanya Yanagihara, Teju Cole, and now, Kelly Kaur: “To be able to engage with an international group of peers and readers allowed me not only to share my experiences and challenges as a writer and help others on a similar path as me to learn, but also contributed to my growth as a writer.”

Letters to Singapore borrows from Kaur’s firsthand experiences as a woman uprooting her life in Singapore and moving to Calgary to study at the University of Calgary in the ’80s and ’90s. The novel explores the main character’s experiences of being an immigrant, a student and a woman finding her identity. Just as the experiences of the women in Kaur’s novel are universal and echo the experiences of many women around the world, Kaur also discovered while attending the festival that many of her experiences and challenges as an emerging writer were also common with other writers. “Having the success of my launch and presentation at the festival has helped me become more comfortable and self-assured in sharing my journey as a writer and being able to support communities of writers around the world.”


“Before, I often didn’t have the courage to apply for arts funding because I lacked confidence. Receiving funding from CADA gave me a sense of confidence and credibility that has both metaphorically and literally expanded my world as a writer.” After returning from the festival, Kaur has felt her drive to write increase and has had a number of pieces accepted for publication in upcoming international anthologies, including two poems on human rights that have been accepted into a travelling exhibit that is part of the 2023 International Human Rights Art Festival (North Dakota, USA), and also three poems and two non-fiction pieces that will be featured in upcoming international and Canadian anthologies.


Kaur has also recently been shortlisted as one of 75 immigrants from across the country for Western Union’s 15th Annual Top 25 Immigrant Awards. “This is all because of my writing journey, and I am feeling very emotional and grateful. The validation I felt being accepted for the Calgary Arts Development (CADA) micro-grant program said to me that not only was I being seen, but that I bring value to the Alberta and Calgary arts community.”