about us

about us

what we are

Illuminate is an online international literary, art, and faith journal founded in Toronto.

Our vision is to seek truth and beauty by illuminating the human heart, in all its splendor, conflict and complexity, through the lenses of the written word and the visual arts. We’re not afraid of writing that wrestles with the hard facets of life because your story, your artistic expression, could be the key that unlocks someone else’s prison.

We encourage a slowing down, a respite, and a filling up on tender moments woven together in a landscape of imagination and faith. Our philosophy is inspired by this quotation from C.S. Lewis:

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”

about our faith perspective

Our masthead team is of the Christian faith who believe living for God’s glory is our greatest achievement and he designed each of us with unique gifts we are meant to use in serving and sharing with others. We believe in God-sized dreams and in working to support and inspire creatives to discover and live theirs.

Does that mean we only publish Christian work? The answer to that is no. Our philosophy is writing and artistic expression is a gift that emerges from the places deep inside which are meant to be encouraged, nurtured, shared and enjoyed with the world.

Illuminate Journal is interested in what compels you to write, whether that be about the writing life, mountain climbing, dance, photography, sports, under-water sea diving, travel, artistic passions, history, photography… as well as stories of faith, living in purpose, and growing in the Word.

founding team

Founding Team

who we are

The founding team are members of the Milestone Churches who formed the Inspired Writers Group in 2017. We have been writing together and bonding through our love of the written word, shedding tears, sharing stories, and vulnerabilities since then. Amid the historic Covid-19 pandemic, a sermon by our senior minister on the topic of Taking the Next Step inspired us to take action. How could we combine and use our God-given talents, our passion for writing and create moments of illumination and inspiration for others? The Illuminate Journal is the result.

Kiernan Antares, Editor-in-Chief, Contributing Writer, Creative Director

Kiernan is a writer, poet and editor. She is also the Founder of the Inspired Writers Group, author of the novel Phoenix Star – An Adventure of the Spirit, and an award-winning artist. Her work has been licensed by Blue Angel Publishing and featured in Centerpoint Magazine, Indigo Sun Magazine, Journey of the Heart and other publications, also forthcoming in the Raconteur Literary Magazine. Kiernan is currently writing a book of poetry. To learn more about Kiernan visit her website.

Peter Boven, Contributing Writer

Peter was raised on a farm in rural South-Western Ontario.  He now lives and works in Toronto and shares a home with his wife and two adult children. In his youth Peter discovered deep satisfaction in expressing himself through writing, but many years had passed with only limited output before Jack Pontes invited him to be a part of Inspired Writers a few years ago.  He is now working on a book of short stories and memories drawn from his 50-plus years of life.

Jack Pontes, Contributing Writer, Marketing, Social Media

Jack, a Fine Arts teacher for over 15 years, has written 4 musical theatre plays including, ‘Noah and the Ark’ staged in 2007. He has also written many social justice songs such as, ‘Hush Little Baby’, dedicated to the Peshawar Refugee Camp in Pakistan. Jack has also written children’s stories such as, ‘The Dragon Hunter’ which received a stellar review from Canadian novelist Makeda Silvera. Jack has also written many poems and lyric poems including, ‘The Bull Fight’, which was featured on Yahoo Glue and Humboldt, which was published in Raconteur Magazine. To learn more about Jack visit his website.

Paula Smellie, Contributing Writer, Editor

Paula holds a BSc in psychology from the University of Toronto, where she also earned her certificate in creative writing. A lifelong learner, she is currently working towards her M.Ed. in Leadership in Higher Education. Paula draws deeply from her rich Jamaican-Canadian heritage and her experiences growing up in Southern Ontario, living in the United States, and being a mom to three wonderful children to find inspiration for her writing. She is a firm believer in the power of writing groups and wishes to give a shout-out to her sister-writers in the Anthology Group and her comrades in Christ in the Inspired Writers Group. Her story, “Bone Keeper”, was published in the fiction anthology “Walking Through and Other Stories” in 2017. To learn more about Paula visit her her website.