MFA in Writing: Recent News

MFA in Writing student Cassi Smith receives RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award



Jeanette Lynes wins the first place of the 2023 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award

Jeanette Lynes, MFA in Writing Director & Faculty, is the First Place winner in the 2023 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Awards in Literary Nonfiction

Jeanette Lynes' third novel, The Apothecary's Garden (HarperCollins Canada) was a finalist for a High Plains Book Award and two Saskatchewan Book Awards. Her fourth novel is forthcoming from HarperCollins Canada in 2025. Jeanette is also the author of seven books of poetry. She directs the MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan. 

Congratulations, Jeanette!



Congratulations to Vijay Kachru on being awarded the Dick and Mary Edney Masters Scholarship for International Understanding through the Humanities & Fine Arts. 

Vijay Kachru has been selected as the recipient of the Dick and Mary Edney Masters Scholarship for International Understanding through Humanities and Fine Arts for the 2017-18 academic year. Vijay is working on her thesis project to write a literary novel exploring the aftermath of the Indian partition in 1947. This narrative will be informed by archival research of the verbal and written testimonies of the victims and their descendents. For this, Vijay plans to travel to India to study first-hand accounts in archives at Delhi and Punjab universities to build a research foundation on which to tell these women's stories. 

In this way, Vijay's thesis project aims to reach a wide audience to enhance understanding of Punjabi women's presence in Canada. 


MFA in Writing Grad Leah MacLean-Evans Wins Blodwyn Memorial Award in Fiction

Congratulations to Leah MacLean-Evans (Class of 2016)! Her short story "Uncle's News" has been awarded first place for the 2017 Blodwyn Memorial Prize for Fiction. "Uncle's News" is praised by the judges as a "beautifully small story . . . . that lingers far beyond its quick finish." 

Leah's award-winning story can be found here.  

MFA in Writing mentor David Carpenter launches his new novel The Gold

David Carpenter, MFA in Writing mentor, will be launching his new novel The Gold at McNally Robinson on May 8th at 7pm. 

Carpenter is the author of four novels, three collections of short fiction, one book of poems, and three works of literary nonfiction. His most recent books have won more than a dozen literary awards, among which are the Independent Booksellers (NYC) Silver Medal for short fiction (Welcome to Canada), the Saskatchewan Book Awards’ “Book of the Year” (A Hunter’s Confession), the National CODE Award (The Education of Augie Merasty), and the prestigious Kloppenburg Award for Literary Excellence. Carpenter wrote the early drafts of The Gold in a cabin on Little Bear Lake in Northern Saskatchewan.

Read more about this event here

Spring 2017 MFA in Writing Newsletter

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

Congratulations to Cassi Smith on being awarded the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize for Emerging Writers

Cassi Smith, a current MFA in Writing student who also received her BA at the U of S, has been awarded the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize for Emerging Writers. The award consists of a $10,000 prize and mentorship by author Ross King, who was this year's Taylor Prize recipient.

Read more about Cassi's award in The Globe and Mail here and a story from Global News here

Congratulations on Recent MFA Student Success!

MFA in Writing student Julianna McLean has been awarded an Aboriginal Graduate Scholarship. McLean's thesis will use poetry to express the legacy of the residential and day school system passed down from several generations of her family. 

There will also be two MFA in Writing students releasing books in May. Katherine Lawrence will release Stay, a young adult novel-in-verse that will be published by Coteau books and Mika Lafond will release nipê wânîn, a book of poems published by Thistledown Press. There will be a book launch at the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre to celebrate Mika's book release on Thursday, May 11th at 7:00pm. This event is free and open to the public. 

MFA in Writing Class of 2017!

Pictured here, left to right, powerhouse cohort of writers: Shannon McConnell, Cassi Smith, Katherine Lawrence, Danielle Atrogge, Julianna McLean. Pictured in centre: Program Coordinator Jeanette Lynes. 

MFA in Writing welcomes Gregory Scofield as Visiting Mentor

One of Canada’s leading Aboriginal writers and storytellers, Gregory Scofield, will be a visiting mentor in the MFA in Writing program for 2017-18. Scofield is Red River Metis and has taught First Nations and Metis Literature and Creative Writing at Brandon University, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and the Alberta College of Art + Design. He currently holds the position of Assistant Professor in English at Laurentian University where he teaches Creative Writing, and previously served as writer-in-residence at the University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg and Memorial University. Scofield won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 1994 for his debut collection, The Gathering: Stones for the Medicine Wheel. In addition to several volumes of poetry, Scofield is the author of the memoir, Thunder Through My Veins (1999), and his latest collection of poetry is Witness, I Am (2016). Scofield will mentor MFA student Julianna MacLean on her thesis project. 

MFA in Writing Student Makes National Track Team

Daniel Yetman, a first year MFA student, competed in the triple jump at the Canwest Championships last weekend for the Huskies and will advance to the Usport National final. Daniel's MFA in Writing thesis is a novel about an Olympic athlete. 

Photo credit: Louis Christ

MFA In Writing Student Katherine Lawrence's Poetry Collection Shortlisted For Two Saskatchewan Book Awards

Congratulations to Katherine Lawrence! Her poetry collection, Never Mind, published by Turnstone Press has been shortlisted for two Saskatchewan Book Awards: The Regina Public Library Book of the Year Award, and the City of Saskatoon and Public Library Saskatoon Book Award. Katherine is in her second year of the MFA in Writing; she also has a novel coming out in 2017. She is pictured here (left) with MFA in Writing Director Jeanette Lynes after the shortlist announcement in Saskatoon on February 9, 2017. 

MFA in Writing Honours Bill Waiser's Governor General's Award

On January 24, recipient of the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction and Professor Emeritus of History at U of S Bill Waiser was honoured for his award by the MFA in Writing. Waiser received the award for his book A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905. During the January 24 session, Bill also shared writing tips with MFA in Writing students. Cake was served after that. We thank Bill for his generosity and Candace Savage for opening her non-fiction workshop to all MFA in Writing students.

Bill Waiser is pictured second-to-right with MFA in Writing students, Non-fiction instructor Candace Savage (third from right) and MFA Director Jeanette Lynes (far right). 

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, Kalilaand 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. 

Read more about Cassi Smith's project.

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. 

Read Meaghan's profile.

Read Meaghan's story at One Throne magazine. 

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.

Never Mind

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 Grads Oct 2015

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.

MFA Success

CUE 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


 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 Success

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.

wildness rushing in

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:

First Graduation

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

Read More

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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