Herself a musician, Barbara Nickel wrote the young adult novel The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart, shortlisted for the Mr. Christie, the Geoffrey Bilson and the Red Cedar awards, and a collection of poems for adults, The Gladys Elegies (Coteau, 1997). She has also published a young-adult novel, Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach (Penguin, 2005), which follows two girls born centuries apart whose lives entwine through the music of Bach's Concerto for Two Violins. It's the story of Catharina Bach who is too frightened to sing for her famous father, and a modern-day Saskatchewan pianist named Hannah Waters who had planned to play the Concerto with her mother. Shortlisted for a Governor General's Award, it received the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize in 2006. "I'm quite humbled,"; said Barbara Nickel, accepting the Egoff Prize. Nickel acknowledged the influence of the UBC Creative Department and fellow writer Rhea Tregabov.

Nickel was born in Saskatoon in 1966 and raised in Rosthern, Saskatchewan. Prairie images abound in her children's book From the Top of a Grain Elevator (Beach Holme 1999), a cyclical evocation of melting ice, emerging gophers, purple-blue saskatoons, ruby raspberries, burning leaves, wool socks on the line and the magical blue dusk of a winter's night. Disappearing grain elevators watch over the changing seasons. The illustrations by Kathy Thiessen echo the poems with an elevator in every sky.

Nickel received her MFA in Creative Writing from UBC where she was poetry editor of PRISM international. Having won the Malahat Review Long Poem Prize and the Pat Lowther Award for her collection The Gladys Elegies, she returned to poetry for Domain (Anansi, 2007), a collection devoted to the wonderment of childhood. Also a violin teacher, Nickel lives with her family in Yarrow, B.C.


The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart (Sumach Press, 1996; Second Story Press, 1997).
The Gladys Elegies (Coteau, 1997).
From the Top of a Grain Elevator (Beach Holme 1999).
Hannah Waters and the Daughter of Johann Sebastian Bach (Penguin, 2005). $17
Domain (Anansi 2007). 0-88784-759-5 $18.95
The Mozart Girl (Second Story Press 2019) $10.95 978-1-77260-089-6

[BCBW 2019] "Kidlit" "Poetry"