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Carlyn Zwarenstein

Photo: Anna Martin 2016

Carlyn Zwarenstein is a Toronto writer. Her first book, Opium Eater: The New Confessions, was published in 2016 by Nonvella, a small B.C. press. Opium Eater is a short memoir and meditation on pain, Romanticism, mental health and addiction, patient experience, creativity, escape, the consolations of literature, the writer Thomas De Quincey and the artist Frida Kahlo... and of course, narcotic drugs and the prescription opioid crisis.

Opium Eater: The New Confessions will be taught on two English literature courses (literatures of addiction) at Queen's University in the coming year, alongside writers like Oscar Wilde, Thomas De Quincey and Charles Baudelaire. Excerpts from Opium Eater have also appeared around the world on's Canadian, American, Swedish, UK, Australia/New Zealand, Mexican and Colombian local sites (the latter two in Spanish translation) and on

Carlyn has freelanced on social justice topics for many years and contributed to publications such as Canadian Geographic, the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, NOW weekly, eye weekly, the Guardian, Our Times, High Times, Spacing, and many others. She has also mentored youth writers and newcomer (immigrant) journalists and published poetry in The Malahat Review. Carlyn also works as a plain language and medical writer and editor for a wide range of clients (currently,, and most recently, Open Medicine). Most of Carlyn's current writing fits into categories like social justice, literature and states of mind. She is working on her first novel, which transposes a real-life massacre of students in 1968 Mexico to an unreal, divided Toronto and explores questions of meaning, oppression, friendship, and escape.

Phone number:
c/o Writers' Union of Canada


Opium Eater: The New Confessions. Nonvella, 2016
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