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Meaghan Hackinen (submitted photo)

Meaghan Hackinen on writing her own path

How one MFA in writing student and National Magazine Award nominee navigates life and the open road

By Justine Gieni

Meaghan Hackinen is riding high with a recent award nomination.

The MFA in writing student and bike enthusiast 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 competition that honours the best of editorial and design in Canadian magazines.

Hackinen’s nominated essay, published in One Throne, provides a first-person account of the avid cyclist pedaling down the Pacific Coast highway en route to visit her parents. As she navigates through winding roads and plunging cliffs, her thoughts turn to her father’s recent cancer diagnosis that has her life spinning out of control.

“I drafted this essay as an assignment for a creative non-fiction workshop, one of the MFA in writing classes,” explains Hackinen. “At the time, I knew I wanted to write about my experience of coming to terms with my father’s cancer. I wanted to explore my relationship with my father, with my bicycle and with the region of the Pacific Northwest.”

For Hackinen, cycling is both a source of creative inspiration and a way of life.

“I think some of my early non-fiction pieces came from the desire to capture the experience of being on the road: the serendipitous situations I’d find myself in,” says Hackinen. “Blasting out of town on the highway for a 100-plus kilometer ride provides an opportunity to really think. On the open road, I just let my legs do the work, watch the scenery and follow whatever thought-train jumps into my head.”

When she’s not on the road as a touring cyclist, Hackinen works in a joint position as the cycle event coordinator for both Saskatoon Cycles and Bridge City Bicycle Co-op (BCBC).

Saskatoon Cycles, a cycling advocacy group, promotes cycling and safe infrastructure including protected bike lanes and a free bike valet, which operates at many of Saskatoon’s outdoor events and festivals. At BCBC, volunteers lead drop-in workshops where adults and youth can fix or build their own bike through donations of parts and frames.

As event coordinator, Hackinen is steering Saskatoon in the direction of becoming a more bike-friendly city. In addition to coordinating the bike valet, she’s taking the wheel by expanding the annual Bike to Work Day into Bike Week (Aug. 13-19), a weeklong celebration of cycling for people of all ages, with the feature event of Bike to Work Day taking place on Aug. 17.

Hackinen’s essay, “Where the Tide Rushes Between,” can be read at the One Throne website.

This story was originally published on the Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity website.

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