Being a writer is a roller-coaster ride, a life of highs and lows, successes and disappointments. For Sarah Ens, a second-year student in the MFA in Writing, this year has been an ongoing ‘high’. Sarah recently received the great news that her poetry collection, The World Is Mostly Sky, will be published by Turnstone Press in the coming year. One of her writing assignments, completed for Dr. Sheri Benning’s creative non-fiction course, turned into the winning entry in this year’s Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest sponsored by The New Quarterly. Says Sarah of her winning essay titled “Entangled,” “I would not have written it if not for this class.” Sarah’s piece “Fan Fiction for the Revolution” received first place in Room Magazine’s Short Forms Contest and her poems “What She Was Drowning” and “Os Justi” were long-listed in Room Magazine’s Poetry Contest. Sarah received 2nd place for her poem “Vermiculture” in CV2’s 2-Day Poem Contest.
Sarah recently completed her six-month mentorship with poet Laurie D. Graham. The mentorship is part of her MFA in Writing studies. As a mentor, Sarah states, Laurie was “conscientious, patient, and wise – endlessly encouraging.” Sarah’s MFA thesis is a long (ie. book-length) poem currently titled Flyway. Laurie provided strategies for how to “convey a lot of dense matter in a way that still reads as a poem,” adds Sarah.
If all this isn’t enough, Sarah served on the organizing team of the MFA in Writing’s monthly series, The River Volta Reading Series. To support the series, she launched a haiku fundraiser and typed original haiku for a two-dollar donation. Last year Sarah was a Teaching Assistant for English 120: Introduction to Creative Writing, and this year she is a Teaching Assistant for English 220: Reading Like A Writer, a new hybrid literature/creative writing course.
After moving from Winnipeg to Saskatoon in the fall of 2018, Sarah quickly jumped into the literary and cultural life of her new adopted city and province; she serves on the Board of Directors for JackPine Press and Coteau Books. Sarah also attended Sandra Ridley’s Poetry Workshop at Sage Hill Writing in summer 2019. Being a writer is also a juggling act. When asked how she balances her MFA studies, work as a Teaching Assistant, submitting her writing for publication, and community engagement work, Sarah states, “all these things are contributing to my creative output and sparking ideas. Everything relates to the work of writing, thinking, and creating.”
When asked how a course of study like an MFA in Writing enhances her life as writer, Sarah says the MFA “gives me the space to make writing a priority. The space, and the community. You have access to this whole range of mentors and also smart, funny, supportive peers.”
Sarah’s advice for aspiring writers is: “Read as much as you can! Read material that makes you feel interested and excited, that taps into what you yourself are wanting to speak. Also, submit, submit, submit your writing.”
In her spare time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her cat Balto and writing in coffee shops.