About Us

36 graduates and counting

"The MFA in Writing is dedicated to mentorship, student support, and an inclusive community. Writing can be a solitary activity. In the MFA at University of Saskatchewan, you belong to a program but more than that, to a welcoming community that values compassionate rigour, innovation, and diversity. Many of our graduates, while continuing to write and publish, work in the cultural sector, as editors, and literary entrepreneurs."

---Dr. Jeanette Lynes, MFA in Writing Director

What's New?

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.

Program Information

The MFA in Writing is a two-year program. Students will normally convocate in the fall at the end of the two years. This means that the students will normally defend their theses at the end of August and/or the beginning of September. In exceptional circumstances, a student may defend his or her thesis in June. This is a Full-Time program. Students should be prepared to devote the bulk of their time to it. The writing workshops are on-site only and do not have an on-line component. In both years students take a variety of courses; in the second, students also complete a thesis. The thesis can be a novel, a work of creative non-fiction, a play, a collection of poems or short stories.

The First Year

In the first year, all students in this program take two 3cu Workshop courses, in which they are required to present work in two genres (for example, WRIT 800.3, Short Fiction and WRIT 801.3, Poetry). As well, each student will take an 800-level (or, where approved, undergraduate level) course in another subject: the relevance of this course to the student’s writing must be demonstrated, and prerequisite requirements must be satisfied. Each student will take part in the program’s 990 colloquium The Profession of Writing, and in GSR 960, Introduction to Ethics and Integrity. During the first year, each student will be assigned an approved faculty supervisor. A co-supervisor, to be an established writer from the community with professional affiliate status in the College of Graduate Studies and Research, will also be assigned. Successful completion of the first year thus entails the completion of 9cu of courses plus GSR 960, consistent participation in WRIT 990, and progress in WRIT 994 (the thesis).

The Second Year

In the second year, upon successful completion of year one’s requirements, all students in the program will be required to take two more Workshop courses, each in an additional, distinct genre. They will continue to participate in WRIT 990. With regular supervision, including supervision throughout the summer, they will propose and carry out the thesis (WRIT 994). The second year will be completed with the submission and successful defense of the thesis.

Mentor Fellowships in the MFA

The six-month mentorship is a key component of the MFA in Writing. Students must achieve a minimum mark of 80% to be eligible for a mentor. It affords students the opportunity to work with published authors from the Saskatchewan writing community. The mentorship begins in the spring after the student’s first year and continues until September of that year. Mentors will respond to regular submissions of student work via in-person meetings, Skype, email, regular post or some combination of the above. The Coordinator will assign each student a mentor based on a ‘fit’ between the mentor’s work and the student’s proposed writing project. The student is free to suggest a mentor pending the Coordinator’s approval. The assignment of mentors will depend, of course, on the availability of the mentor. The creative project on which the mentor and student work together will essentially constitute a portion of the student’s MFA thesis.


WRIT 800.3 - The Craft of Writing Fiction

This course focuses on how to write dynamic and engaging fiction. The course offers compositional strategies for writing short stories and novels. Writ 800.3 is an intensive workshop consisting of peer critiques, a craft seminar, and discussion of assigned readings. Students will meet weekly and will be required, every week, to produce writing of their own and submit it for analysis by the rest of the class and the instructor. 

WRIT 801.3 – Poetry Workshop

Students in this course will meet weekly for a three-hour seminar, in which they will examine the key theories and issues in the writing of poetry. A professional writer should have experience in more than one genre: exploring the specific demands and opportunities of verse is fundamental to this program. The students will be required, every week, to produce writing of their own – commentary, then poems – and submit it for discussion by the rest of the class and the instructor.

WRIT 802.3 – Nonfiction Workshop

Students in this course will meet weekly for a three-hour seminar, in which they will examine some leading theories and methods in the making of nonfiction that could include biography, history, and investigative journalism. This course will develop the student’s proficiency in writing nonfiction for a general audience. The students will be required, every week, to produce writing and submit it for discussion by the rest of the class and the instructor.

WRIT 803.3 – Extended Forms

This capstone workshop focuses on the conceptualizing and creation of a book-length manuscript of prose (fiction, creative non-fiction) or poetry. It is also meant to sharpen editing skills and the ability to construct a theoretical basis for a writing project as well as situating that writing project within its broader literary context(s). The theory and aesthetic informing the writing project will be articulated in an Artist’s Statement. Each student will also be required to present a graduating craft talk, based on their writing project and open to other MFA students in the program. The student presenting the craft talk will be, in essence, teaching craft, using his or her own writing and reading as a basis. Extended Forms is the final workshop in the MFA. 

WRIT 990.0 – The Profession of Writing

Detailed, practical attention to the professional aspects of authorship provides a crucial dimension to training to undertake a career in writing. With completion of this course, students will have a grasp of the business of writing. Students in each year of the program are required to attend the seminars comprising this course. These seminars take place approximately once a month; they provide opportunities for students to consider and discuss various public and practical aspects of their work. The seminars, whose topics may include Submitting Work for Publication, The Role of the Editor, Intellectual Property and Copyright and Writing on Contract, will be led by experts from around and beyond the University.

WRIT 994.0 – Thesis

The Major Work culminates the MFA in Writing. The objective is a substantial, original piece of writing: a novel, a collection of short stories, a sequence of poems, a play, or nonfiction book or series of nonfiction work. The Major Work is to be completed in the second year of the program. At the end of the second year, the student will submit the completed work, meet with an examining committee, and defend the work submitted.

Note: In a special case situation where a student requires more than two years to complete the MFA in Writing program, continuous registration in WRIT 990 and WRIT 994 will be required on completion of the MFA.

How to Apply

Entry into the MFA in Writing requires a four-year Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent), with a minimum of 70% in the last two years, and a strong portfolio of writing. In exceptional cases, applicants without the degree may enter the program on a probationary basis: equivalency will be judged on previous participation in reputable workshops such as those offered by the Banff School of Fine Arts, the Sage Hill Writing Experience, and the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild; on relevant work experience; and on substantial publication.

Minimum Admission Requirements to the College of Graduate Studies and Research for Masters Degree, please click here.

Applications should arrive by January each year to be considered for admission in the following September. Late applications will be considered only under exceptional circumstances.  The MFA in Writing Program has only one intake a year, in September.

Next Application Deadline: January 30, 2020

Application Checklist

All applications for admission must include:

  • online application for admission: http://grad.usask.ca/programs/writing.php
  • a non-refundable application fee of $90 (in Canadian or equivalent US funds), which is payable online through the online application process
  • three letters of reference (the referees whose email addresses you provide in your online application will automatically be directed to an online form to submit). Please ask your references to assess your writing ability and work ethic, and your ability to work within a collaborative group workshop setting
  • statement of intent, indicating the genre(s) of literature in which you wish to specialize.  Applicants should be as detailed as possible with respect to the writing project they aim to undertake during their study (to be uploaded on your online application)
  • CV (resume) (to be uploaded on your online application)
  • portfolio of 30 pages of writing
    • This portfolio will be judged for evidence that the candidate has achieved a preliminary standard of originality, craft, style and literary sophistication. This can be submitted electronically in PDF format.  The writing portfolio will constitute a substantial portion of the applicant's qualification for admission. (to be uploaded on your online application)
  • transcripts from all post secondary institutions attended (to be uploaded on your online application)
  • test results of proof of English language proficiency from applicants from non-English speaking countries (eg. TOEFL, IELTS).  Click here for details.

MFA Student Resources


A good example of an artist's statement is found here (PDF file will open in new window).

Used with permission of Elise Godfrey, 2014.


A good example of the front matter of a thesis can be found here (PDF file will open in new window). 

Used with permission from Leah MacLean-Evans.

Faculty and Mentors

Faculty from the Humanities and Fine Arts departments will participate in the MFA in Writing as instructors and supervisors.

Program Director

Jeanette LynesLynes

Jeanette Lynes holds a PhD in Canadian Literature from York University and an MFA in Writing from the University of Southern Maine's low-residency Stonecoast Program. She has been a Writer in Residence at Saskatoon Public Library, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek, B.C., in addition to being appointed Pathy Professor of Canadian Studies at Princeton University in 2003. She is the author of one novel, The Factory Voice (Coteau Books), long listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a ReLit Award. The novel was also a 'Top 100' book in the Globe and Mail for 2009. Jeanette's seventh poetry collection, Bedlam Cowslip: The John Clare Poems (Woksak and Wynn/Buckrider Books) was shortlisted for two Saskatchewan Book Awards. Her co-edited book, Where the Nights are Twice as Long: Love Letters of Canadian Poets (with David Eso) was published by Goose Lane Editions in 2015. Jeanette was nominated for a 2016 Saskatoon YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Arts, Culture and Heritage category. In summer 2016, with support from the Canada Council for the Arts she presented her poetry at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival with 'The Shaken and the Stirred' Canadian poets; she will also present readings of her work in London and Northern Ireland. Her poetry recently appeared in Prairie Fire, Room Magazine, and Gutter Magazine (UK). In summer 2017 Jeanette and Daniel Scott Tysdal will lead the Emerging Writers group at the Sage Hill Writing Experience. Jeanette's second novel, The Small Things that End the Word, will be published by Coteau Books in 2018. 

Visit Jeanette's website here

Visit Jeanette's wikipedia page here

View Jeanette's sample publications here

Photo: Matt Braden Photography

Contributing Faculty

Sheri Benning

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Sheri Benning to the MFA in Writing this fall. She will be teaching workshops in poetry and nonfiction in the MFA in Writing, as well as the new English 120 course, Introduction to Creative Writing. Sheri is no stranger to the U of S, having studied here, and we welcome her back to her alma mater. Sheri grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. She has since travelled widely while studying. Her third collection of poetry, The Season’s Vagrant Light: New and Selected Poems, was recently published in the UK by Carcanet Press. Her previous collections, Thin Moon Psalm (Brick Books) and Earth After Rain (Thistledown Press), each won two Saskatchewan Book Awards. Thin Moon Psalm also received a ReLit Prize nomination and the Alfred G. Bailey Manuscript Award. Her poetry, short fiction and essays have appeared in numerous Canadian, British and Irish journals and anthologies, including Breathing Fire 2: Canada’s New Poets (Nightwood Editions); New Poetries V (Carcanet Press); and Best Canadian Poetry 2016 (Tightrope Books). She completed a PhD at the University of Glasgow and is currently the Faculty of Arts Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Regina. At the moment, she is working on what she *hopes* is the final draft of a novel. A previous draft won second place in the John V. Hicks manuscript awards. Excerpts have been shortlisted for the CBC short story prize, and won first place and honourable mention in Grain magazine’s short story contest.

 Jon Bath


Jon has been at the Digital Research Centre since it opened in 2006, and became the Director in the summer of 2011. He joined the department of Art & Art History in 2015 as an Assistant Professor.

He completed his PhD in English at the University of Saskatchewan in 2009. His PhD thesis, Blowing the Crystal Goblet: Transparent Book Design 1350-1950, traces the development of the “crystal goblet” metaphor for printing- the belief that the primary function of those who craft information interfaces is to make the medium as unobtrusive as possible so that readers can have the illusion of unmediated communication with their chosen authors. He is now working on a monograph, tentatively titled Coding the Crystal Goblet, which examines the discourse surrounding the design of electronic interfaces for the persistence of this belief that the “invisible” user interfaces are superior to those that assert their own materiality. He is an active scholar in the field of  Digital Humanities and Media/Book History. Most notably, he is a co-leader of the Modeling and Prototyping Team of the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) project, a SSHRC Major Collaborative Research Initiative.

David Parkinson

David Parkinson is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan. He has served as Director of the ICCC and Vice-Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts. As ICCC Director, he was involved in the establishment of the MFA program in Writing. 

Beverly Brenna

Bev Brenna is a Professor in Curriculum Studies, College of Education, whose work focuses on literacy and children's/young adult literature. She has published ten books for young people and her series of novels about a teen with autism, beginning with Wild Orchid, has earned a current place on CBC's list of 100 Young Adult Books That Make You Proud to be Canadian: http://www.cbc.ca/books/books100ya.html. The White Bicycle, also from the Wild Orchid series, was shortlisted for a 2013 Governor General's Award and won a 2013 Printz Honor book Award. For more information, please see https://www.beverleybrenna.com or http://www.usask.ca/education/ecur/profiles/brenna/index.php.

Dwayne Brenna

Dwayne Brenna is the versatile author of several books of humour, poetry, and fiction. Coteau Books published his popular series of humourous vignettes entitled Eddie Gustafson's Guide to Christmas in 2000. His two books of poetry, Stealing Home and Give My Love to Rose, were published by Hagios Press in 2012 and 2015 respectively. Stealing Home, a poetic celebration of the game of baseball, was shortlisted for several Saskatchewan Book Awards, including the University of Regina Book of the Year Award. His first novel New Albion, about a laudanum-addicted playwright struggling to survive in London's East End during the winter of 1850-51, was published by Coteau Books in autumn 2016. His short stories and poems have been published in an array of journals, including GrainNine, and The Antigonish Review. Brenna is also the author of several books on theatre research. His stage plays have been produced at Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham, 25th Street Theatre in Saskatoon, and the Neptune Theatre in Halifax.

Visiting Lecturer in Playwriting

Kenneth Williams 

Kenneth is a Cree playwright from the George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, and is the first Indigenous person to earn an M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of Alberta. His plays Café DaughterGordon WinterThunderstickBannock Republic,Suicide Notes and Three Little Birds have been produced across Canada, most of which have been published by Scirrocco Drama. He is the playwright-in-residence as well as taught playwriting for the Drama Department at the University of Saskatchewan for the last six years. He is a member of the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre, the Playwrights Guild of Canada, and the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. He tweets about drama, Indigenous peoples and climate change under his handle, feralplaywright. He lives in Saskatoon.

Community Mentors

The six-month mentorship is a key component of the MFA in Writing. To be eligible for a Mentor Fellowship, a minimum grade of 80% must be achieved in the MFA courses. It affords students the opportunity to work with published authors from the Saskatchewan writing community. The mentorship begins in the spring after the student’s first year and continues until September of that year. Mentors will respond to regular submissions of student work via in-person meetings, skype, email, regular post or some combination of the above. The Coordinator will assign each student a mentor based on a ‘fit’ between the mentor’s work and the student’s proposed writing project. The student is free to suggest a mentor pending the Coordinator’s approval. The assignment of mentors will depend, of course, on the availability of the mentor. The creative project on which the mentor and student work together will essentially constitute a draft of the student’s MFA thesis. While mentors come primarily from the rich and diverse Saskatchewan writing community, occasionally a Visiting mentor from out-of-province will work with a student on a particular project. 

Terry Jordan

Terry Jordan is an award-winning fiction writer, essayist, musician and dramatist whose stage plays have been produced across the country, in the U.S and Ireland. His book of stories It's a Hard Cow won a Saskatchewan Book Award and was nominated for the Commonwealth Book Prize. His novel, Beneath That Starry Place was published internationally and was nominated for two Saskatchewan Book Awards, and the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel award. The Toronto Globe & Mail called it "an achingly beautiful book." Jordan taught Creative Writing at Concordia University, Montreal, and was the first Margaret Laurence Fellow at Trent University. In the past he facilitated the Fiction workshop at Sage Hill Writing Experience, and served as Writer in Residence at the Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg Public Libraries. His latest play (co-written) We’re Already Home was published in the fall of 2014. His new novel, Been in the Storm So Long, was published by Coteau Books in the fall of 2016.

Sylvia Legris

Sylvia Legris’ latest book, The Hideous Hidden (New Directions, 2016), is a richly lyrical collection that, in the words of distinguished poet and translator Rosmarie Waldrop, “makes anatomy sing.” Other collections include Pneumatic Antiphonal (2013), published as part of New Directions’ acclaimed Poetry Pamphlet Series, and Nerve Squall, her third book, winner of both the 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize and the 2006 Pat Lowther Award. Among her other awards are the 2014 Lieutenant Governor’s Saskatchewan Artist Award and, in 2012, the Canada Council’s Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for outstanding achievement by a mid-career writer. Her poetry has appeared in The New YorkerGrantaPoetry, and The Walrus. From 2013–2014, she was the Virtual Poet-in-Residence for Arc Poetry Magazine; from 2008–2011, she was the editor of Grain.

Sandra Bonny

Sandy Marie Bonny is a creative literary and non-fiction writer who draws inspiration from interdisciplinary approaches to understanding. She holds a PhD in Earth & Atmospheric science (University of Alberta, 2007) and works with the College of Arts & Science at the University of Saskatchewan as an instructor, coordinator and project developer—bringing science, stories, and students together across a range of curricular and outreach initiatives; including collaborative work with pioneering multi-vocal science advocate Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Sandy has published short fiction in literary journals including PrairieFireThe Danforth ReviewEVENTGrain, and enRoute; and is featured in anthologies including The Shape of Content—Creative Writing in Mathematics and Science (AK Peters, 2008) and Coming Attractions 11, an anthology of up-and-coming Canadian fiction writers (Oberon Press, 2011). Her first collection,The Sometimes Lake (Thistledown Press, 2012) explores intersections between scientific and other ways of knowing through twelve stories, one of which received a CBC fiction prize; the collection was a finalist in the Saskatchewan Literary Awards First Book category. Her first novel, Yes, and Back Again, is forthcoming in fall 2015 (Thistledown press) and she is at work on a linked essay collection, A Listening Earth; living narratives of Saskatchewan/Kisiskaciwani-sipiy, underway for release with Trueheart Press (Oxford, 2016).

Sandy has enjoyed working with emerging adult and youth writers as a fiction and nonfiction editor for Spring (2013) and Windscript (2014) and as a creative and interdisciplinary literacy workshop leader. She is a current board member for the Saskatchewan Writers Guild.

Barbara Langhorst Langhorst

Barbara Langhorst was born in Edmonton and earned a PhD in experimental poetics at the University of Alberta. She moved to Saskatchewan in 2002 to work at St. Peter's College in Muenster, where she has taught full-time and directed the writing program since 2004. Her sequence of nonfiction poetry, restless white fields, won the the Saskatchewan Arts Board Poetry Award and the Alberta Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book of the Year Award in 2013. Currently, she is focused on the novel that she began (also in 2013) with mentor Sandra Birdsell through the Humber School for Writers.

Barbara, her husband, and daughter live on an acreage near Humboldt, which they share with an array of pets and the local wildlife.

Barbara Klar

Barb Klar

Barbara Klar is an award-winning Canadian poet who has been publishing her work in journals, anthologies, and books for over twenty years. Her collections are The Night You Called Me a Shadow (Coteau Books, 1993), The Blue Field (Coteau Books, 1999), and Cypress (Brick Books, 2008, finalist for the Saskatchewan Book of the Year). She is the recipient of numerous provincial and national awards including the Gerald Lampert Award, the Joseph Stauffer Prize, and the Wallace Stegner Grant for the Arts. She has worked as a tree planter, editor, workshop leader, and freelance writer for both print and radio, as well as a mentor for the Banff Centre's Wired Writing Studio.

Sean Virgo

Seán Virgo was born in Malta, and grew up in South Africa, Ireland and the U.K. He has lived on two of our three coasts and many places between, but southwest Saskatchewan has been his home for the last 12 years. He worked for the Scottish Nature Conservancy and as a Canadian has been a sheep farmer, a logger, a teacher and an editor. His anthology The Eye in the Thicket, essays at a natural history has been widely praised. He was awarded the Haig-Brown Centennial Chair at the University of Victoria in 2008. He has published a dozen books of poetry and fiction, and has won national magazine awards in both genres, as well as CBC and BBC competitions for short stories. His new collection, Dibidalen, ten stories, will be published this September.

David Carpenter

David CarpenterDavid Carpenter is a Saskatoon writer who alternates regularly between fiction, nonfiction and poetry. He and his wife, the artist Honor Kever, do most of their work up north in a cabin on Little Bear Lake. In winter they work in Saskatoon. Carpenter's latest work is a large collection of essays he has edited under the title The Literary History of Saskatchewan(forthcoming in January with Coteau Books). He is currently at work on a novel. Working Title, The Present


Matthew Hall

Matthew HallMatthew Hall is a doctoral candidate at the University of Western Australia writing on violence in the work of J.H. Prynne. At present, he is a Visiting Academic Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity at the University of Saskatchewan, where he is researching conceptual art and contemporary poetics.

He is the author of four collections, including his most recent: Royal Jelly(Black Rider Press, 2011), and Hyaline (BRP, 2012). Matthew is the Features Editor at Cordite Poetry Review, a co-founder and editor of Forward Slash, a cross-national journal of innovative poetics from Canada and Australia, and sits on the board of a number of academic journals. His essays, poetry and fiction appear in journals internationally.

Sandra Birdsell

Sandra BirdsellSandra Birdsell’s first book of stories, Night Travellers was published in 1982. She has written ten books of fiction, among them the bestselling novelThe Russländer, nominated for the Giller Prize. She has received three nominations for the Governor General Award for Fiction, most recently forWaiting for Joe, and has been awarded several Saskatchewan Book Awards, including the Book of the Year, Best Fiction, City of Regina Award. She is a mentor in the Humber School of Writing, and a director of The Sage Hill Writing Experience. In 2010 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.


Leona Theis

Leona Theis writes novels, short stories and creative nonfiction. She tries to craft stories that are funny, seriousLeona Churchill and absorbing all in the same package. Her story collectionSightlines (Coteau, 2000) won two Saskatchewan Book Awards. Prior to the publication of her novel The Art of Salvage (Coteau, 2006), novella-length excerpts were shortlisted forawards by the Malahat Review and the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick. Her work has won a number of awards and appeared in literary magazines across Canada. RGB Productions made a short film based on her story “The Stuff that Makes You Lift Cars”. Leona’s work has been shortlisted four times for the CBC Literary Award, which she won in 2007 for creative nonfiction. Her anti-memoir Unsupervised Swimming won second place in the John V. Hicks long manuscript competition. She is the creator of themeta-blog "Always Under Revision", in which a character escapes from a novel-in-progress to say a few words of her own. The blog is a peep-show into the writing process. Leona has worked in the literary community on boards and committees and as a mentor, manuscript screener, jury member, writer-in-residence and workshop leader.


Rosemary Nixon

Rosemary Nixon

Rosemary Nixon is a pre-eminent short story writer, novelist, and free-lance editor.  Her collection, Mostly Country, a Nunatak Fiction imprint for selected works of outstanding fiction by new western writers, wasshortlisted for the Howard O’Hagan Award.  The Cock’s Egg won the Howard O’Hagan. Her novel, Kalila was longlisted for the ReLit Award and shortlisted for the George Bugnet Award.  Her latest, Are You Ready To Be Lucky? is shortlisted for the City of Calgary Award.

Rosemary won Grain Magazine’s Postcard Competition, was awarded a Fellowship to write at Scotland’s Hawthornden Castle, and invited as Canadian Guest Writer to Portugal’s DISQUIET International Literary Festival.  She has taught creative writing for over twenty years, including Writing With Style at the Banff Center, Sage Hill Writing Experience in Saskatchewan, and Writing Away in Greece.  She has judged numerous literary competitions, including the Grant MacEwan Award, the Brenda Strathern Award, the CBC Literary Competition, and the Writers Union of Canada Short Fiction Competition. Rosemary has served as Writer-in-Residence for the Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writers Programme at the University of Calgary, for the University of Windsor, Ontario, for the Canadian Authors Association, for Banff Centre for the Arts, and most recently for the Saskatoon Public Library.

Alexandra Popoff

Alexandra Popoff is the author of four literary biographies and a collection of short stories. Her book SOPHIA TOLSTOY won two Saskatchewan Book Awards for non-fiction in 2010. THE WIVES became a best Wall Street Journal non-fiction title for 2012 and was nominated for the Saskatchewan Book Awards. Her latest biography VASILY GROSSMAN AND THE SOVIET CENTURY will be published by Yale University Press, Trade Division, in March 2019. Popoff’s books have appeared nationally and internationally and have been translated into 7 languages. She has worked in the literary community as a mentor and workshop leader. http://russianliteratureandbiography.com/.

Julio Torres-Recinos Julio Torres

Julio Torres-Recinos writes poetry and short stories. He has published the books of poetry Crisol del tiempo (Hourglass), Nosotros (Us),Fronteras (Borders), Una tierra extraña (A Strange Land),  Hojas de aire(Leaves of Air), Entonces (Then) and the book of short stories Con Aurora después y otros cuentos (With Aurora Afterwards and other Stories).He has given poetry recitals in several countries such as the United States, Spain, Germany, Italy, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Australia and Canada. His poetry and short stories have appeared in magazines, newspapers and anthologies, as well as in many Internet sites,  and have been translated into French, English and Italian. In 2004,  Editions L’Harmattan published Crisol del tiempo and Nosotrosin France in a bilingual edition titled Creuset du temps et Nous autres, translated by Marie-C. Seguin. He has also edited or co-edited five books of Hispanic-Canadian poetry and short stories.  In 1992,  he won the First Poetry Prize in a competition organized by the Spanish Cultural Celebration in Toronto, Ontario.  He is an Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultural Studies at the University of Saskatchewan.

Arthur Slade Arthur Slade


Sheri Benning Benning

Sheri Benning grew up on a small farm in Saskatchewan, Canada.  She’s since travelled widely while attaining several academic degrees.  Benning’s published two books of poetry, Thin Moon Psalm (Brick Books, 2007) and Earth After Rain(Thistledown Press, 2001).   Her poetry, essays and fiction have also appeared in numerous Canadian and British literary journals and anthologies, including New Poetries V (Carcanet Press, 2011);How the Light Gets In:  An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry from Canada (Waterford Press, 2009); and Breathing Fire 2:  Canada’s New Poets(Nightwood Editions, 2005). Benning divides her time between Glasgow, UK where she is completing a PhD in English Literature and her family’s farm near Manitou Lake, Saskatchewan.  She is currently co-editing the anthology Tag: Canadian Poets at Play, forthcoming with Oolichan Books in 2014.

Dave Margoshes
William Robertson

Kelley Jo Burke Burke

Kelley Jo Burke is an award-winning playwright, a director, storyteller, documentarian and a radio producer and broadcaster. Her eighth IDEAS documentary, called “Shame on Youtube,” was heard across Canada for the second time on Dec 3, 2015. Her plays have been produced and published in Canada, in the U.S. and around the world, including “The Lucky Ones,” “Somewhere, Sask.”  “Ducks on the Moon” (Hagios), "The Selkie Wife" (Scirocco), "Jane's Thumb" (Signature), and "Charming and Rose: True Love" (Blizzard). She dramaturges, directs and produces for stage, and regional and national radio, is a professor of theatre and creative writing, and was for many years the host/producer of CBC Saskatchewan’s radio arts performance hour SoundXchange.

She was 2009 winner of the Saskatchewan Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts, the 2009 City of Regina Writing Award (her third time receiving that award), and the 2008 Saskatoon and Area Theatre Award for Playwriting

Visiting Mentors

Sheri-D Wilson Wilson

Sheri-D Wilson (aka The Mama of Dada) has performed & taught in festivals in Canada, USA, England, France, Mexico, Belgium, and South Africa. 

Sheri-D Wilson has nine collections of poetry; her most recent, Open Letter: Woman Against Violence Against Women which succeeds Goddess Gone Fishing for a Map of the Universe. Her collection, Re:Zoom (2005, Frontenac House), won the 2006 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry, and was shortlisted for the CanLit Award. She has two Spoken Word CDs (arranged by Russell Broom), and four award-winning VideoPoems, all produced for BravoFACT.

Sheri-D has a long history teaching students at different levels in their educational development. She created, developed and directed the Spoken Word Program at The Banff Center, and then continued in the capacity of Director for seven years. Her teaching highlights include: Writer-In-Residence at Kwantlen University; masterclass instructor at The Writers Festival in Vancouver & The National Slam – Group and Indies (2010-2014), week-long workshop at Women’s Words (U of A Extension 2007-2013), three-day intensive at Saskatchewan Festival of Words (youth). In 2011 she edited The Spoken Word Workbook: inspiration from poets who teach—the Go-To educational tool for teaching and writing Spoken Word.

Known for her interest in the environment she was headliner at The 2014 Emerald Awards and in 2013 she was honored to read with David Suzuki. In 2012 she was featured in Chatelaine Magazine, in a story about the creative mind. A regular on CBC, in 2013 she was interviewed by Canadian icon Sheilah Rogers. In 2011 she was honored to be presented by The National Slam of Canada in "Legends of Spoken Word." In 2011 she was invited to do a TED Talk for Calgary—Communication—Finding your Path.

Of the beat tradition, in 1989 Sheri-D studied at Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, in Boulder, Colorado.


MFA in Writing Awards and Publications

Danielle Altrogge


  • “Sobriety” published in The Anthology/L’anthologie CFSW/FCSW 2013: Poems in Translation/Poemes en Traduction, 2014.


  • Nominated for Outstanding Original Script for Our Four Walls, Saskatoon and Area Theatre Awards, September 2015
  • Member of 2015 Saskatoon Slam Team, Winners of the 2015 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, October 2015
  • Winner of the Poets Choice Award at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, October 2015
  • Recipient of Saskatchewan Arts Board Multidisciplinary Grant, December 2014
  • Writer and Producer of Theatre/Poetry hybrid project Our Four Walls, March 2015

Chelsea Forbes

  • “Home Boys Grown” - Third Prize Winner and "Island Magic" (Anthology) Poetry Institute of Canada, 2014.
  • “What They Left At the Dump”, In/Words Magazine, Issue 14.2, 2015.
  • “Getting Breasts in Eleven Stanzas”, Sprout Zine, February, 2015.
  • “Pigeon in a Box”, (parenthetical), Issue 7, May 2015

Elise Marcella Godfrey


  • First Prize (Poetry), 13th Annual Lush Triumphant Literary Awards, subTerrain, 2015
  • Recipient, Graduate Thesis Award, Fine Arts and Humanities, University of Saskatchewan, 2015
  • Recipient, Independent Emerging Artist Grant, Saskatchewan Arts Board, 2014
  • Finalist, Far Horizons Award for Poetry, The Malahat Review, 2014
  • "Influenza." Poem. subTerrain. Issue 72, Winter 2015. Vancouver, BC. 5 Pages.
  • "Rabbit Lake." Poem. Grain. Vol. 42 No. 4, Summer 2015. Saskatoon, SK. 1 Page.
  • "Fond du Lac." Poem. Grain. Vol. 42 No. 4, Summer 2015. Saskatoon, SK. 1 Page.
  • "Water." Poem. Grain. Vol. 42 No. 4, Summer 2015. Saskatoon, SK. 1 Page. 
  • "Women, Moon Lake." Poem. Grain. Vol. 42 No. 4, Summer 2015. Saskatoon, SK. 1 Page.
  • "After the Exodus." Poem. Grain. Vol. 42 No. 4, Summer 2015. Saskatoon, SK. 1 Page.
  • "Radon, Fallout." Poem. Grain. Vol. 42 No. 4, Summer 2015. Saskatoon, SK. 1 Page.
  • "Follow the Water." Poem. Ryga. Issue 8, Summer 2015. Kelowna, BC. 1 page.
  • "Elders, Echo Bay, Great Bear Lake." Poem. Ryga. Issue 8, Summer 2015. Kelowna, BC. 1 page.
  • "LaBine, Echo Bay, Great Bear Lake." Poem. Ryga. Issue 8, Summer 2015. Kelowna, BC. 1 page.
  • "Women, Smoothstone Lake." Poem. Ryga. Issue 8, Summer 2015. Kelowna, BC. 1 page.
  • "Women, Hidden Bay, Rabbit Lake." Poem. Ryga. Issue 8, Summer 2015. Kelowna, BC. 1 page.
  • "Women, Clam Lake." Poem. Ryga. Issue 8, Summer 2015. Kelowna, BC. 1 page.
  • "Women, Minnow Lake." Poem. Ryga. Issue 8, Summer 2015. Kelowna, BC. 1 page.
  • "Geophysicist." Poem. filling Station. Issue 62, Summer 2015. Calgary, AB. 1 page.
  • "Biologist." Poem. filling Station. Issue 62, Summer 2015. Calgary, AB. 1 page.
  • "Inuit Tapirisat." Poem. filling Station. Issue 62, Summer 2015. Calgary, AB. 1 page.
  • "Hatchet Lake Band." Poem. filling Station. Issue 62, Summer 2015. Calgary, AB. 2 pages.
  • "Pitchblende." Poem. Room Magazine. Vol. 38 No. 3, Summer 2015, Vancouver, BC. 3 pages.
  • "Manya." Poem, PRISM. Vol. 54 No. 4, Summer 2014. Vancouver, BC. 1 page.
  • "Monywa Copper Mine." Poem, PRISM. Vol. 54 No. 4, Summer 2014. Vancouver, BC. 1 page.
  • "Ghanaian Honey." Poem. CV2. Vol. 37 No. 1, Summer 2014. Winnipeg, MB. 1 page.
  • "Peacock’s Pitch." Poem. CV2. Vol. 37 No. 1, Summer 2014. Winnipeg, MB. 1 page.
  • "Silver birch gone gold." Poem. CV2. Vol. 37 No. 1, Summer 2014. Winnipeg, MB.

Meaghan Hackinen

  • “Cycling North Cascades Highway” (flash fiction) won first place in Brilliant Flash Fiction’s “Life is Good” writing contest (Spring, 2015)
  • “Point of No Return” (non-fiction) published in Rove, an Okanagan College chapbook about travel
  • “Shingle Spit Road” (flash fiction) published in The Fieldstone Review (Issue 8, June 2015)
  • “Highway to Neverland” (non-fiction) published in untethered (Volume 2.1, Summer 2015)
  • “I Wait for Mars” (flash fiction) published online in the Mandalit project (July 2015)
  • “Where the Tide Rushes Between” (non-fiction) published in One Throne (Issue 7, Fall 2015)
  • Graduate Students’ Association Bursary (Fall, 2015)

Nicole Haldoupis 

  • "Tentative Endings" (Production Editor's Diary — non-fiction), Descant 163, 2014.
  • "Rotten to the Core: Nicole Haldoupis Reviews George F. Walker’s 'The Ravine'" (theatre review — non-fiction) Descant blog, 2014.
  • "Review of Danny Jacobs' Songs That Remind Us of Factories" (book review — non-fiction) Existere 33.2, 2014.
  • "Pumpkin" (poetry) The Quilliad issue 4, 2014.
  • "Red Velvet Songs" (flash fiction) (parenthetical) issue 6, 2015.
  • "Red Velvet Songs" (flash fiction) Food Works: plums in the icebox (chapbook) by Dogpatch Press, 2015.
  • First place - Creative Non-Fiction in the 3rd Annual Seneca Salon Writing Contest, 2012.
  • Production Editor at Descant in 2013-2014
  • Art Editor/Designer at Existere. 
  • Co-Creator untethered, a Toronto-based literary journal that launched its first issue in Summer 2014.

dee Hobsbawn-Smith


  • What Can’t Be Undone: Stories (Thistledown Press, 2015)
  • Wildness Rushing In: Poems (Hagios Press, 2014)
  • Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet (TouchWood Editions, 2012.)

Short stories:

  • “Prairie Selkie”, The Windsor Review, Autumn 2011, Vol. 44, No. 2
  • “Undercurrents”, The Malahat Review, summer 2011, Vol. 175
  • “Monroe’s Mandolin”, The Antigonish Review, summer 2011, Vol. 166
  •  “The Quinzie”, FreeFall, spring 2012, Vol. XXII, No. 2
  • “The Valley of the Shadow”, Numero Cinqwww.numerocinqmagazine.com  June 2012 


  • “Learning to Cook”, Gastronomica, Volume 13, Issue 3, August 2013
  • “Prodigal”, Grain, Vol.42.1, fall 2014
  • “Floodplain”, untethered, Vol. 1.2, spring 2015
  • “Handmade” in Nonfiction: A Nonfiction Anthology About Food (Little Fiction Big Truths, pub date TBA)

Poetry in anthologies:

  • Wilf Perreault: In the Alley/Dans la Ruelle: (Coteau Books, 2014):
    • “The last lit house”
  • None and All of This is True (GritLit 2012)for “Suite: Seven ways to inhabit grief”:
    • “Descartes’ night vision”
    • “A shell from a tsunami”
    • “@ Middle Cove NL”
    • “Vacationing in Cinque Terre”
    • “Mourning”
    • “A consideration of the bus driver”
    • “Sailing”
  • Seek It: Writers and Artists Do Sleep (Red Claw Press, 2012):
    • “Small deaths”
  • Entanglements Eco-poetry ed. Sharon Blackie & David Knowles (Two Ravens Press, New Hebrides, 2012):
    • “Hejira”
    • “Flood plain”
    • “Driving the mares”

Lindsay Kiesmen

  • 2014 - Manitoba Arts Council Student Bursary 
  • 2013/2014 - Deans' Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence-Award of Distinction   (Brandon University)

C. Isa Lausas


  • 2015 - Where The Nights Where Twice As Long, Anthology featuring C. Isa Lausas in conversations with tyson john atkings, Goose Lane Editions, Canada
  • 2014 - I Exi[s]t/Exit I – Limited edition of 75 handmade Chapbooks, Jack Pine Press, Saskatoon, Canada
  • 2014 - Exi[s]t, 16 page digital chapbook, released by Poetry is Dead,  featured at the Vancouver Art & Book Fair, Canada
  • 2012 - On that Border, [poetry collection], Art-Arc Books, Finland.


  • 2015 - Cordite Magazine, issue 50.0 - Feature Artist. Australia
  • 2015 - (parenthetical), issue 7, Canada
  • 2014 - Untethered, issue 2 - Feature Artist. Canada
  • 2014 - (parenthetical), issue 2, Canada

Other mentions:

  • I/Exi[s]t - Exit/I (jack pine press) included in collections:Birth Cage (experimental poetry) - Shortlisted for the University of Saskatchewan thesis awards. 
    • SUNY in Buffalo, the University of Calgary Special Collections, University of
Regina John Archer Library, University of Saskatchewan Special collections,
University of Manitoba Library, and the University of Toronto library
  • Birth Cage (experimental poetry) - Shortlisted for the University of Saskatchewan thesis awards. 

Katherine Lawrence


  • Never Mind, Turnstone Press, (forthcoming, Spring 2016)
  • Lying To Our Mothers, Coteau Books, 2006 (ISBN 1-55050)
  • Ring Finger, Left Hand, Coteau Books, 2001 (ISBN-10:55050-341-3)


  • Start with the Answer, gritLit Press, 2009 (978-0981344-40-9)
  • Split-ends, JackPine Press, 2005 (ISBN:0973799-5)


  • 2015 The John V Hicks Long Manuscript Award for poetry
  • 2014 CBC Literary Awards – poetry – long-listed
  • 2014  Winner, City of Regina Writing Award

Andréa Ledding

  • John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award, 2012.
  • John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award, 2013. Honorary Mention.
  • 2013 - Lieutenant Governor Arts Awards – Short-listed
  • Translation prize from Malahat - Short-listed
  • National tour of ten-minute short of Dominion.

Courtney Loberg

  • SSHRC grant / CGSM award
  • July 2014  - "Hythe Junior High" (short comic) Happiness V. 4 (Comix anthology edited by Leah Wishnia)
  • Art 355: Topics in Interdisciplinary Studies: Making Comics (created / taught)

Leah MacLean-Evans

  • Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s - SSHRC, December 2014.
  • Dean’s Scholarship - College of Graduate Studies, September 2014.
  • University of Ottawa Merit Scholarship, January 2013
  • University of Ottawa Merit Scholarship, September 2012
  • River Volta Reading Series – One of three coordinators.

Shannon McConnell


  • “Exposure”, “Beyond the showbox”, “Departure”. Louden Singletree Literary and Arts Magazine (University of the Fraser Valley). Issue. No. 2 / September 2010
  • “Someday trip”, “Tangled Coasts”. Louden Singletree Literary and Arts Magazine (UFV). Issue No. 3 / Spring 2011 
  • “Gaps”, “Lament”. Louden Singletree Literary and Arts Magazine (UFV). Issue No. 4 / Spring 2012
  • “Molly Malone”. Louden Singletree Literary and Arts Magazine (UFV). Issue No. 5 / Spring 2013
  • “Oxford Martyrs”, “The Temple Bar”. Louden Singletree Literary and Arts Magazine (UFV). Issue No. 6 / Spring 2014 


  • Fighting Mondays. (novel excerpt). Louden Singletree Literary and Arts Magazine (UFV). Issue No. 5 / Spring 2013

Patrick O’Reilly

  • “The Clothes He Never Wore” – Connections, Spring 2012
  • “Two Poems” – Connections, Spring 2013
  • “Margaret” – Saint John Telegraph-Journal, November 30, 2013
  • “What Wolves Eat: Poems” – Numéro Cinq, May 2014
  • “Three Poems” – Qwerty 31
  • “The Artful Masochist: Sakutaro Hagiwara’s The Iceland” – Numéro Cinq, July 2014
  • “Her Mother’s Keeper: Susan Paddon’s Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths” - Numéro Cinq,
  • February 2015
  • “The Astronauts” – untethered 1:2
  • “Theory and Ardour: Alice Fulton’s Barely Composed” - Numéro Cinq, May 2015
  • “Pantoums” – The City Series – Number Two, Fredericton (Frog Hollow Press, 2015)


  • University Graduate Scholarship – 2015-2016


  • Robert Clayton Casto Prize for Poetry – 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Best Canadian Poetry 2015 – Longlisted

What Our MFA In Writing Students Are Saying

"There comes a point in most every writer's journey when a deeper commitment is required to achieve a new and richer level of craft. I'm that writer. I searched long and hard for a way to accelerate my writing. I was searching for a way to challenge everything I thought I knew about writing. I'm an established poet but I wanted to study new genres, immerse myself in the craft of fiction, creative non-fiction, and playwriting and, in the process, re-visit my own understanding of poetry. I wanted to write and revise and test my limits but I did not want to pursue this part of the journey alone. I knew that doing so would frustrate me. I'd fall back on old practices and habits.  

Fortunately, I heard about the MFA in Writing program at the U of S. The program has exceeded my expectations. I've found equally driven and committed students who are on the same upward climb. I've found instructors who listen, pay attention, provide critical feedback, give direction, and share their own hard-earned wisdom. I've stepped into a community where my work is understood, where breaking boundaries is celebrated. I feel respected, supported, and encouraged to keep pushing myself. Is there anything better for a writer? I don't think so."

-Katherine Lawrence, Class of 2017

“The Saskatchewan writing community offers support, camaraderie and mentorship. By being part of the MFA, you find yourself thick in the middle of it, surrounded by writers who’ve been in the business for years and are willing to share their knowledge and mentor emerging writers. The MFA at the University of Saskatchewan is small and dedicated and nearly brand new. You’re encouraged to make your mark, but you’re also asked to work hard. So you do, and the hard work pays off.”

-Sarah Taggart (Fiction) Class of 2014

“The MFA in Writing is an excellent program because of its emphasis on mentorship in a province with such an abundance of distinguished authors. Saskatchewan’s literary landscape is vast and varied: from Saskatoon’s thriving spoken word poetry scene to the Sage Hill Writing Experience in the picturesque Qu’Appelle Valley, writers of all kinds will find a wealth of opportunities to help them connect and create.”

-Elise Godfrey (Poetry) Class of 2014

“The MFA in Writing exposes me to a breadth of genres that reveals and develops untapped skills. As part of the programming, we are injected into the writing community and given the tools to navigate the often-choppy waters of publishing. The support of the staff and extensive experience of the educators in the program instill confidence that helps me do what I came here to do, write. “

-James Pepler (fiction) Class of 2014

“The mentorship was a tremendous and rewarding experience. Working with established authors not only provides writers with excellent readers for their work but it also makes you privy to valuable advice about the nuts and bolts of writing that will sharpen and hone your ability to what Hunter S. Thompson once called the “high white point.”

-Adam Hawboldt (Fiction) Class of 2013

“Having the opportunity to meet with an accomplished poet and intensely deconstruct my work on a bi-weekly basis was a most enriching aspect of the MFA program. The intimacy that the mentorship allows for, and the safety it creates, accelerated the development of my own personal voice. I also learned to recognize and respect my own process as a writer, and to have all of these things validated and refined by the advice of an admired author was invaluable.

- Leanne Bellamy (Poetry) Class of 2013

“Working one-on-one with a mentor is a relational and invaluable, the crux of the MFA program. I was able to work with Sean Virgo, someone I respect immensely – a brilliant and well-read author who works in diverse genres and has extensive editorial experience. The community of writers we have in this province is an unnatural resource we would all benefit from tapping into – the MFA in Writing program is built around that wealth of talent that abides here.”

-Andrea Ledding (Poetry) Class of 2013

“The mentorship exposes us, necessarily, to the expertise of published authors. I greatly appreciated the care taken to match my interests with a mentor – from Sandra Birdsell, I received much-needed criticism and encouragement, as well as insights into her process. How encouraging it was to see one of her seventh generation manuscripts thoroughly marked in red by her editor. I always came away from our meetings full of food for thought and an impetus to keep writing.

- Lorelie Gerwing-Sarauer (Fiction) Class of 2013

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The River Volta Series

The River Volta Reading Series is a monthly series founded and run by MFA in Writing Students. The series was established in 2014 by MFA alumni Sara-Jane Keith and Chelsea Forbes. Each month The River Volta presents featured authors followed by open mike readings. The series takes place in a cozy cafe, and offers a friendly, warm environment for writers of all levels to test-drive new work at the open mike. The last River Volta reading for 2016 was a packed house to hear featured authors Guy Vanderhaeghe and Lloyd Ratzlaff, followed by an open mike. In 2017, the new organizers for The River Volta are MFA students Geoff Pevlin, Daniel Kim, and Simon Bohm. Many thanks to outgoing River Volta organizers Shannon McConnell and Lindsay Kiesman! The River Volta Reading Series is supported by The ICCC and The MFA in Writing.

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