Emma Teitel

Columnist, Toronto Star

Bachelor of Arts, English, 2011

I think that the Foundation Year Programme (FYP) was essentially a columnist’s bootcamp.

When Emma Teitel compared the Toronto rapper and recording artist Drake to Isabel Archer, the protagonist in Henry James’ novel Portrait of a Lady, she was channeling her time at King’s.

Emma made that comparison in Maclean’s magazine. And it wasn’t the first time, not even close.

“There have been a number of times in my career so far where especially in a feature story for Maclean’s, … I have drawn comparisons between contemporary pop stars or actors in mainstream media to a literary character, a philosopher - something I learned in FYP.”

Emma graduated with an English degree and immediately secured an internship with Maclean’s. That quickly turned into a full time job as a columnist. In 2013 she was presented with the National Magazine Gold Award for Columns.

Emma stayed with the magazine until 2015 when she joined The Toronto Star, also as a columnist.

“I think I knew I was going to be a professional writer,” she says. “I just wasn’t sure in what capacity. I didn’t know in what direction I would go in until I went to school.”

And when she did get to King’s, her first year pointed the way.

“I think that FYP was essentially a columnist’s bootcamp... I had to write basically a column with more research and fewer colloquialisms every week. I don’t think I would be where I am today without it.”

But now with The Star she writes three columns a week. “It’s hard,” she admits. But she loves it. As the newspaper’s website says Emma writes about “anything and everything”. “[I}have so much freedom.”

And she takes advantage of that, writing about social media and the attacks in Paris,

the long federal election campaign, poppies and New Year’s Eve and Babylonian priests. Her favourite though was a column about her grandmother who had recently passed away. “It’s a funny sad personal column.”

Anything and everything.

Emma writes her columns in a variety of places. “I sort of split my time between the office, a coffee shop and my house,” she says.

At King’s her writing place was in the stacks of the university’s library, a place where dusk turned to dawn while she wrote essays about the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. “It was pretty awful but also kind of a great experience. I don’t think I have ever thought so hard as I did at that moment.”

It might be interesting to ask her about that some afternoon as her column’s deadline approaches.

Posted: Apr. 2016

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