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About the MFA in Writing

The goal of the Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing program is the training of a writer in the professional and creative aspects of the craft. The MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan balances the intensive study and practice of writing in several genres with an interdisciplinary flexibility. To the study of poetry, fiction and playwriting, the program adds a variety of non-fiction genres, allowing students to merge a wide variety of intellectual interests with their writing ambitions.

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Recent News

Never MindAn Interview with MFA in Writing's latest New-Book Author Katherine Lawrence - By Shannon McConnell

Click here to read the interview (pdf document).




CaseyProfile on Allan Casey, MFA in Writing Instructor

Click here to read the profile, written by MFA in Writing alum dee Hobsbawn-Smith. Allan Casey's Work as Community Lecturer in the MFA in Writing was generously supported by The U of S Office of Community Engagement and Outreach.

AltroggeMFA in Writing Student Wins Poets' Choice Award

Danielle Altrogge, a student in the MFA in Writing, won the Poets' Choice Award at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Saskatoon in October, 2015. Danielle is a member of the Saskatoon Slam Team, this year's champions of the week-long event. Congratulations, Danielle!



MFA Grads Oct 2015MFA in Writing graduates Largest Cohort In 2015

Seven students graduated from the MFA in Writing on October 24, the largest graduating class in the program's five-year history. The students graduating come from Finland, the UK, Toronto, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Theses were completed in fiction, experimental poetry, and creative non-fiction. Pictured here are three of this year's graduates: Danielle Potter, Gayle Smith, and Sara-Jane Gloutnez with program coordinator. Congratulations!

New MFA in Writing Student Immerses in Saskatchewan's Literary History

Shannon McConnell, fresh from the west coast, arrived in Saskatchewan last month to study her MFA in Writing. Shannon had a wonderful introduction to the province's literary culture by virtue of meeting two of our most passionate and generous philanthropists, Henry and Cheryl Kloppenburg who sponsor the annual Kloppenburg Award. Read about it here!

LawrenceMFA in Writing Student Wins John V. Hicks Poetry Award

Katherine Lawrence, a student in the MFA in Writing program has won the John V. Hicks Award for her poetry submission titled Never Mind. The award will be presented at the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild AGM in Regina in October, 2015. An award-winning poet, Katherine is the author of two previous books of poetry and two chapbooks. She is also a past president of The Sage Hill Writing Experience Board of Directors. Her latest collections of poems will be published by Turnstone Press in 2016. Congratulations, Katherine!

deeMFA in Writing Alum Named 2015-16 Writer in Residence in Saskatoon Public Library

Dee Hobsbawn-Smith, a graduate of the MFA in Writing at U of S (Class of 2014), has been named Writer in Residence at Saskatoon Public Library. Hobsbawn-Smith is the author of seven books, most recently the poetry collection Wildness Rushing In and a collection of short stories, What Can’t Be Undone. She has received many awards and honours for her poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. Her MFA thesis is a novel, The Dryland Diaries. Dee’s term as Writer in Residence begins on September 1, 2016. Congratulations to Dee from the MFA in Writing!

(Photo credit: Shelley Banks)

MFA in Writing Student Wins Untethered Magazine's Writing Contest

Sara-Jane Gloutnez, a second-year student in the MFA, won Untethered Magazine's first writing contest. The contest judge was Author Extraordinaire and U of T professor George Elliott Clarke. Congratulations, Sara-Jane!

Landslide Year for MFA in Writing Students' Awards, Scholarships, and Award Nominations

In 2015, Elise Godfrey won the first thesis prize in the MFA for her experimental poetry thesis Rabbit Lake. Courtney Loberg and Leah MacLean-Evans received SSHRC grants. Patrick O'Reilly and Courtney Loberg were awarded University Graduate Scholarships. Meaghan Hackinen won the Flash Fiction contest in Ireland. Texis Walkem received an Aboriginal Graduate Scholarship from the College of Arts and Science. Incoming MFA student Lindsey Kiesman from Brandon Manitoba received a Dean's Scholarship. MFA alum Dee Hobsbawn-Smith was nominated for two Saskatchewan Book Awards for her first poetry collection. Congratulations to all!

Spring 2015 Newsletter

Click here to download a pdf copy of the MFA in Writing newsletter.

MFA SuccessCUE UP! First Annual MFA in Writing Billiards Party A Success 

On March 8, 2015, MFA in Writing students and their families gathered for the first annual MFA in Writing Winter Billiards Party at Pacific Billiards in downtown Saskatoon. Pictured here (left to right) are MFA students Sara-Jane Gloutnez and Nicole Haldouplis. A good time was had by all.

MFA 2014

Untethered: MFA in Writing Student launches New Magazine

Nicole Haldoupis, a student in the MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan, along with York University students Stephanie McKechnie and Sophie McCreesh, launched the literary magazine Untethered recently. The magazine publishes two issues per year. Issue two was launched in February 2015, and featured the writing of several MFA students from the University of Saskatchewan. Untethered accepts original, unpublished fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics and visual art. Congratulations to Nicole and the two other founding editors of Untethered – Long may this magazine untether the written word!




Writing is often a lonely, solitary endeavour but as recent collaborations undertaken by MFA in Writing students reveal, this doesn't have to be the case. MFA students partnered with students at Saskatoon's Mount Royal Collegiate to workshop writing by Mount Royal students in March. Thanks to Mr. J.P. Ducasse, the teacher at Mount Royal who formed the writers' circle and initiated the partnership with the MFA at U of S. Our MFA students also partnered with students from the CMRS program (Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Studies) at U of S for an intensive writing workshop in February, 2015.  Thanks to Professors John Porter, Jon Bath, and Brent Nelson for instigating this lively partnership. 

MFA 2014

MFA in Writing Class of 2014 Graduates on October 25

The thesis work of our 2014 class ranged from a Cree poetry thesis, to experimental poetry based on uranium mining, to a prairie family sage, to freaks, geeks, and gamers, to a young adult novel that imagines the University of Saskatchewan campus in a distant dystopian future, to a steamy mystery set in Victoria, B.C.. Congratulations to our graduates!
Pictured are graduates of the second cohort of the MFA in Writing: (left to right): Mika Lafond, dee Hobsbawn-Smith, James Pepler, Elise Godfrey, Sheila Janzen (missing Sarah Taggart).

MFA in Writing Mentor’s Work Chosen For Inclusion in the Journey Prize Anthology

Congratulations to MFA in Writing Mentor Leona Theis! Theis’s story “High Beams,” originally published in Grain Magazine, is included in The Journey Prize Stories 26, out now from McLelland & Stewart. “High Beams” is both a stand-alone short story, and the first chapter of a novel-in-progress. Last year, Leona’s story “How Sylvie Failed to Become a Better Person through Yoga,” which will be the second chapter of the same novel-in-progress, was long-listed for the Vanderbilt–Exile Award. 

MFA SuccessNew MFA Grads (Class of 2014) Share Tips on 'Success in the MFA in Writing' 

On October 20, three MFA in Writing Graduates presented a Writ 990 Panel on “Tips for Success in the MFA.” Dee Hobsbawn-Smith, James Pepler, Sheila Janzen dished on how to make the most of the two years of the MFA. Elise Godfrey offered tips as well, via email. Fresh out of the program, Hobsbawn-Smith, Janzen, Pepler, and Godfrey graduated in October 2014. Godfrey emphasized balance when choosing what work to submit to peers for workshops – most definitely not first draft material – rather, material that has gone through a couple of revisions and needs a further push. Hobsbawn-Smith advised ‘do more’, ‘always do more’, thus generating a trove of writing. Janzen described the MFA defense as a ‘really great conversation’ and a rare opportunity to receive feedback from engaged readers. Hobsbawn-Smith stressed making the most of the mentorship, an opportunity to work intensively with a professional writer. Pepler advised: ‘don’t take yourself too seriously but take your work seriously’. He also overviewed the many resources available for graduate students including a ranked list of ‘best places to write on campus’. Program Coordinator Jeanette Lynes encouraged students to get involved in the writing community in Saskatoon – a ‘cultural hub’ – as an excellent way to build a professional network. The session was well attended by new MFA students and those who recently completed their mentorships. 

MFA in Writing Mentor Sandra Birdsell Wins Prestigious Award

Sandra Birdsell has been a mentor with the MFA in Writing at the U of S from the program’s beginning in 2011 and we were thrilled that on September 16, 2014, she was awarded the Cheryl and Henry Kloppenburg Award for Literary Excellence.  Read more 

Leah MacLean-Evans First MFA in Writing Student to Win Dean’s Scholarship

Leah MacLean-Evans will begin the MFA in Writing this fall, and she has been awarded a Dean’s Scholarship. Leah grew up in Ottawa and graduated from Canterbury High School’s Literary Arts Program in 2010. Currently, she is completing an undergraduate degree in Psychology and her honours thesis is on the variables affecting how French readers make decisions about the congruence of grammatical gender. For the past three years, Leah has worked as a Communications Assistant in the International Development Department at the Canadian Co-operative Association. Her short fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry have appeared in The Globe and Mail and On Spec Magazine, among other publications. Leah is the first MFA in Writing student to win a Dean’s Scholarship.

First Book Published by MFA in Writing Student

wildness rushing inWildness Rushing In, a poetry collection by dee Hobsbawn-Smith (Fiction, 2014) has just been released by Hagios Press. "Writing with passion and wit," Don McKay says of this collection. A book launch will be held on Wednesday, May 14 at 7:00 pm at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon.  Congratulations, dee!  For more information on the book, click here.



MFA in Writing Newsletter, Vol. 2, Winter 2014, Just Released!

To read the newsletter, click here!

BunnyhugA Tradition in the Making – The MFA ‘Bunnyhug’ 

Some university students, on graduating, receive a golden ring. Others a silver pin. Here on the prairies, we like to stay warm and cozy, and do things a bit differently. Our first MFA graduates (Class of 2013) received a bunnyhug. No, this is not an embrace from a warm fuzzy animal before it hops quickly away towards an endless horizon. A bunnyhug is known, in some parts of the world, as a ‘hoodie’. In Saskatchewan a bunnyhug is a bunnyhug is a bunnyhug. Each MFA class chooses its ‘text’ to be printed on the back of the hoodie. The first graduating text was composed by Andrea Ledding: “I came for the bunnyhug – I stayed for the MFA in Writing’. This year’s graduating text is now being drafted collaboratively. Will the Class of 2014 top this witty text and come up with something better? Stay tuned!   

MFA in Writing 'Celestial Writers Fundraising Campaign' to Launch in 2014

Stay posted for details on how to support the MFA in Writing through our first fundraising campaign.

MFA in Writing Students Launch New Reading Series - The River Volta

MFA in Writing students Chelsea Forbes and Sara-Jane Gloutnez launch The River Volta Reading Series in October.  The inaugural reading will be held at D'Lish Cafe (702A 14th St E) from 7pm-9pm on October 23, featuring reader Mari-Lou Rowley and open-mic readings.

For more information, please see:

First GraduationMFA in Writing Graduates First Students!

At U of S Convocation Ceremonies on October 26, 2013, the first four MFA in Writing students in the history of the University of Saskatchewan crossed the stage and received their degrees.  Feature story


LeddingMFA in Writing Student Andrea Ledding Shortlisted for Lieutenant-Governor's 2013 Emerging Artist Award

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MFA in Writing Student Awarded Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship

MFA in Writing student dee Hobsbawn-Smith has been awarded a Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship of $10,000. The award is to support her research for a novel, The Dryland Diaries, which explores a Hutterite family in the dryland farms of central Saskatchewan.

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