Skip to content

Inaugural PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-in-Exile Scholarship Awarded to Ava Homa

Echoes from the Other Land Author to work with David Bezmozgis on new manuscript

PEN Canada has long promoted freedom of expression and supported writers facing persecution. Thanks to a new partnership with the Humber School for Writers, that support now includes fully sponsored peer mentorship for one refugee writer through the PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-in-Exile Scholarship. Starting in September, Ava Homa, the scholarship’s inaugural recipient, will work on her new manuscript under guidance of the School’s graduate certificate program director, David Bezmozgis. Homa was born and raised in the Kurdish region of Iran and now makes her home in Canada.

“PEN Canada does exceptional work helping to provide refuge for persecuted writers,” says Bezmozgis. “Bringing them to safety is important, but finding a means to allow them to continue to write is also vital. This partnership between the Humber School for Writers and PEN Canada will provide talented refugee writers with the chance to practice their craft, enter into a professional dialogue with a Canadian author, and, ideally, create a book that will offer a new and valuable perspective to Canadians about the world we live in."

“What is left of a writer when exile denies her publishing in her language?” says Homa, reflecting on the challenges of writing in Canada. “I have lost count of the number of times I have tripped while trying to put the shattered pieces of my identity and my career together. Had it not been for this stellar opportunity, my historical novel, the fruit of seven years of perspiration, would never find a mentor at Bezmozgis’ level to reach its full potential. I am grateful to PEN and Humber.”

The PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-in-Exile Scholarship will provide one member of PEN Canada's Writer-In-Exile network each year with a full scholarship to attend the School for Writers’ graduate certificate program in creative writing. Over the course of 30 weeks, the selected applicant will work one-on-one with one of Humber's faculty mentors on a book-length English-language manuscript of fiction or non-fiction.

Ava Homa

Photo Credit: Katrina Afonso