Barbara Nickel

About the Author


Barbara Nickel grew up in Saskatchewan and attended Goshen College in Indiana, where she studied music (violin) and English literature. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, where she also taught. Barbara writes for adults and young people. Her poetry for adults has been published in many anthologies and magazines, including The Walrus, Poetry Ireland Review, Best Canadian Poetry 2021, Best Canadian Poetry 2024, and is featured on BC’s Poetry in Transit. One of her poetry collections, The Gladys Elegies, received the Pat Lowther Award. Her children’s titles include Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach, which won a B.C. and Yukon Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, as well as a picture book, A Boy Asked the Wind, which was a finalist for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award. Her third poetry collection, Essential Tremor, was released by Caitlin Press to critical acclaim. A children’s novel, Dear Peter, Dear Ulla, won the High Plains Book Award (US and Canada), and was a finalist for the 2022 B.C. and Yukon Book Prizes,  the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, and several young readers’ choice awards, including the Rocky Mountain Book Award. Barbara lives and writes in Yarrow, British Columbia, on the Stó:lo territory of the Pilalt and Ts’elxwéyeqw.


Dear Peter, Dear Ulla has been selected as a finalist for the 2023/2024 Chocolate Lily Book Award. 

Barbara’s poem “Three-in-One,” originally published in Grain Magazine, has recently appeared in Best Canadian Poetry 2024  (Biblioasis) edited by Bardia Sinaee.

Check out Barbara’s 45-minute teaching video on Creating Believable Characters for the BC and Yukon Book Prizes’ In Class video library.

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla was a finalist for the 2022 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla has been nominated for the 2023 Rocky Mountain Book Award (Alberta Young Readers Choice Award).

The Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards (MYRCA) has nominated Dear Peter, Dear Ulla as a 2023 Northern Lights (Grades 7-9) finalist!

Essential Tremor reviewed in The Vancouver Sun. Read full review here.

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla is reviewed and “Highly Recommended” in CM (Canadian Review of Materials)! Read the full review here.

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Author Visits

Interested in booking Barbara to visit your school or library? Choose from a wide range of presentations, from poetry workshops to readings of historical fiction.

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