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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First MFA in Writing Thesis Accepted for Book Publication
The MFA in Writing, established in 2011, graduated its first class in 2013. Since then our graduates have gone on to produce plays, win and be nominated for writing awards, and work in the cultural sector. Numerous alumni and current students have published their work, including sections of their MFA theses. The first MFA thesis to be published in its complete form is the poetry collection nipê wânîn: askîy-iyinîsiwin acâhkowin by Mika Lafond (Class of 2014). Mika's mentor during the MFA was Saskatoon poet William Robertson. Thistledown Press will publish Mika's collection, written in both English and Cree, this spring. Congratulations, Mika! This is a landmark for both your writing career and the MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan.
Congratulations to Andréa Ledding on being shortlisted for the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize
MFA in Writing alum Andréa Ledding (Class of 2013) was a finalist for the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize. Ledding was one of five finalists shortlisted for the prestigious award. Ledding's nominated poem "kîwetinotahk pimâcihowin - northern journeys" and a selection of her work can be found here.
24th MFA in Writing Student Graduates on Oct. 22. Congratulations, Class of 2016!
The MFA in Writing began in 2011. Pictured here are four of seven students who graduated as the Class of 2016. From left to right: Nicole Haldoupis, Courtney Loberg, Program Director Jeanette Lynes, Leah MacLean-Evans, and Brent MacFarlane. These students completed theses in fiction, memoir, and graphic novel. They have already formed a post-graduate writing group. We congratulate you on your degree-completion achievement!
MFA in Writing presents Poets Catherine Graham and Rita Bouvier for Po-Vember
November is Poetry month and the MFA in Writing Program is hosting two critically acclaimed poets, Catherine Graham and Rita Bouvier at events on campus. Graham will lead a writing workshop on Nov. 2nd and give a public reading along with Rita Bouvier on Nov. 3rd.
Read more here.
New MFA student from Germany covers the 2016 Kloppenburg Awards
Simon Bohm, recently landed in Canada to study writing at the University of Saskatchewan, had his first introduction to Saskatchewan literary culture at the 2016 Kloppenburg Awards.
Read about it here.
Two MFA Mentors Win John V. Hicks Awards
MFA in Writing program mentors Leona Theis and Sherri Benning are recipients of the 2016 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Awards. Leona Theis received the first place prize for If Sylvie had Nine Lives, and Sherri Benning won the second place prize for In Ordinary Time.
Congratulations to all the winners and honourable mentions.
MFA in Writing presents Symposium on the Sentence with author Rosemary Nixon
Rosemary Nixon is an award-winning short story writer, novelist, free-lance editor, and a passionate creative writing teacher. Her works include The Cock's Egg, winner of the Howard O'Hagan Award, as well as the novels, Kalila and her latest, Are You Ready To Be Lucky? Rosemary has served as writer-in-residence at universities and libraries across Canada. She has judged numerous literary competitions, and offers Creative Writing workshops on the Island of Samos, Greece. She is an editor for Freehand Books.
This event is free and open to the public.
Find more information here.
MFA in Writing student awarded Innovation Scholarship
Cassi Smith was recently awarded a Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship of $16,000. The award is to support her project entitled "Opikinawasowin A Narrative of Empathy: Bridging the Gaps Between First Nations Families and the Ministry of Social Services." The project will examine the traditional teachings and methods of the Saskatchewan Elders Council in the area of conflict resolution and healing.
MFA in Writing student nominated for National Magazine Award
MFA in Writing student Meaghan Hackinen was recently recognized at the 39th National Magazine Awards held in Toronto on June 10. Her non-fiction essay "Where the Tide Rushes Between" was a finalist at the prestigious competion that honours the best of editorial and design in Canadian magazines. Hackinen was also recently profiled on the news and events website for the College of Arts & Science.
MFA in Writing program featured prominently at Awards Ceremonies
At the Saskatchewan Book Awards ceremony held on April 30th, Jeanette Lynes, Coordinator for the MFA in Writing program, won the Saskatchewan Arts Board Poetry Award for her collection Bedlam Cowslip. In addition, MFA in Writing mentor, Elizabeth Philips, also won an award for her novel The Afterlife of Birds. Another MFA in Writing mentor, David Carpenter, was shortlisted for an award. See the full list of the 2016 Saskatchewan Book Award winners and the shortlisted nominees.
Lynes was also one of the 2016 YWCA Women of Distinction Award winners in the category of Arts, Culture and Heritage. Read more about this event.
An Interview with MFA in Writing's latest New-Book Author Katherine Lawrence - By Shannon McConnell
Click here to read the interview (pdf document).
Profile 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.
MFA 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 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!
MFA 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!
MFA 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.
CUE UP! First Annual MFA in Writing Billiards Party A Success
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!
MFA in Writing Class of 2014 Graduates on October 25
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.
New 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 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!
A 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:
MFA 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
MFA in Writing Student Andrea Ledding Shortlisted for Lieutenant-Governor's 2013 Emerging Artist Award
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.