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This program is part of: Humber School for Writers

Immerse yourself in a creative writing workshop this summer!

The 2024 workshop is scheduled to run from June 23-28, 2024

About the workshop:

Since 1992, the Humber School for Writers (HSW) has offered an immersive, focused workshop to jump start your creative writing. Mornings are spent in classes with one of Humber’s esteemed writing advisors, and afternoons are devoted to craft and industry talks by Canada’s top authors, poets, publishers, editors and agents. You’ll connect with peers and build your literary support network. Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced writer, there’s something for you in our June writing workshop!

Kate Cayley will be leading a dedicated poetry workshop section.

David Bezmozgis, Creative Director - Humber School for Writers

David Bezmozgis, a writer and filmmaker, is the author of Natasha and Other Stories, The Free World, The Betrayers and Immigrant City. His writing has appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, Zoetrope All-StoryBest American Short Stories and Best Canadian Stories. He has been nominated three times for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, twice for the Governor General’s Literary Award and has received the Amazon.ca First Novel Award among other prizes. In 2010, he was one of The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40. David has written and directed two feature films, Victoria Day and Natasha, and was a screenwriter on the animated feature, Charlotte, all of which were nominated in the writing category for the Canadian Screen Awards.

Creative Director's Message

The workshop returns this year with a few new twists. We’ll be convening at the end of June rather than the middle of July, and we’ll be housed at Humber’s International Graduate School where we will take advantage of the advanced audio-visual capabilities and offer access to our afternoon panels and talks to the wider public. Anyone who cannot attend the workshop but who wishes to hear our mentors delve into various elements of craft, or select publishing professionals offer insights on writing and the business of writing, will be able do so by buying a ticket through Eventbrite. The technological flexibility afforded by our new space will also allow for the participation of publishing professionals who are not based in Toronto or in Canada and so broaden the range of voices and perspectives.

For those who can attend the workshop, the format remains the same. Your mornings will be spent in workshop sessions with your mentors, who include beloved veterans Joe Kertes and Colin McAdam, as well as Kate Cayley and Antonio Michael Downing who taught last summer and were eager to return. New to the workshop, though not to Humber, is Shyam Selvadurai, author of numerous novels including the iconic Funny Boy, which was made into a film by Deepa Mehta. And teaching for the first time at Humber is Harriet Alida Lye, author most recently of the excellent novel Let It Destroy You, as well as a remarkable work of creative nonfiction, Natural Killer.

As ever, I look forward to this extraordinary week, and hope you will join us either in person or virtually.

David Bezmozgis
Creative Director and Faculty, Humber School for Writers
Summer Workshop in Creative Writing
Humber Faculty of Media & Creative Arts

Faculty Bios

Kate Cayley headshot

Kate Cayley has written two short story collections, How You Were Born and Householders, and three collections of poetry, When This World Comes to an End, Other Houses, and Lent. Her plays have been performed in Canada, the US and the UK.
 
She has won the Trillium Book Award, the Mitchell Prize for Poetry, and an O. Henry Short Story Prize, and been a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Her work has appeared in Best Canadian Stories and Best Canadian Poetry.
 
She has an ongoing writing collaboration with immersive company Zuppa Theatre, most recently on The Archive of Missing Things, which is simultaneously a touring theatre performance, an online archive, and a film, and This Is Nowhere, a collaborative performance in the form of a scavenger hunt.

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Antonio Michael Downing headshot

Antonio Michael Downing grew up in southern Trinidad, Northern Ontario, Brooklyn, and Kitchener. He is a musician, writer, and activist based in Toronto.

His 2010 debut novel, MOLASSES (Blaurock Press), was published to critical acclaim. In 2017 he was named by the RBC Taylor Prize as one of Canada's top Emerging Authors for nonfiction. SAGA BOY, his 2021 memoir, an enthralling deeply personal account of a young immigrant's search for belonging was shortlisted for both the 2021 Speaker's Book Award and the 2021 Toronto Book Award. Giller winner Ian Williams called it: "...the triumph of Blackness everywhere--the irrepressible instinct for survival in a world where Blacks are prey." He has written two children's books slated for release with Thundra Books Canada in 2023 and his novel LITTLE ORPHAN BLUE has recently been purchased by Simon and Schuster Canada. When not writing Antonio Michael performs and composes music as John Orpheus.

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Joseph Kertes headshot

Joseph Kertes founded Humber College's creative writing and comedy programs and was the recipient of numerous awards for teaching and innovation.

Joseph Kertes was born in Hungary but escaped with his family during the Revolution of 1956. He studied English at York University and the University of Toronto. He was for many years Humber's Dean of Creative and Performing Arts.

His first novel, Winter Tulips, won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. His third novel, Gratitude, won a Canadian National Jewish Book Award and the U.S. National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His novel, The Afterlife of Stars, was a New York Times Book Review: Editor’s Choice. His latest novel is called Last Impressions.

He was the recipient of the 2017 Harbourfront Festival Prize for his contribution to literature and to the literary community.

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Colin McAdam headshot

Colin McAdam is the author of four internationally acclaimed novels, which have been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award, and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, among others.

His debut novel, Some Great Thing, won the Amazon / Books in Canada First Novel Award in 2004, and his third novel, A Beautiful Truth, won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize in 2013. His writing is unique in style and subject and has attracted the praise of writers as diverse as Miriam Toews, Elizabeth Strout, Helen Macdonald, Max Porter, and Eleanor Catton. He has a PhD in English from Cambridge University and has taught and mentored for several years at Humber, Banff and the University of Toronto. Colin's essays and memoirs have appeared in Harper's, Granta, The Walrus, Hazlitt, Salon and elsewhere.

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Shyam Selvadurai headshot

Shyam Selvadurai's first novel Funny Boy, won the W.H. Smith/ Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Lambda Literary Award in the US.

He is the author of Cinnamon Gardens and Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, and the editor of an anthology, Story-wallah! A Celebration of South Asian Fiction. His books have been published in the US, the UK and India, and published in translation in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey and Israel. His third, The Hungry Ghosts, was published April 2, 2013 in Canada, India and Sri Lanka. Shyam co-wrote the screenplay of his first novel Funny Boy with the award-winning Deepa Mehta, who also directed the film. He won Best Adapted Screenplay for his work at the Canadian Screen Awards 2021 and the New York Cinema Independent Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film is available for viewing on CBC Gem in Canada and on Netflix in the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Shyam’s new novel Mansion of the Moon, a historical novel about the Buddha’s wife, was published by Knopf in  May 2022. In 2016, Shyam had the interesting honour of having a spider named after him: Brignolia shyami, a small goblin spider.

His website is www.shyamselvadurai.com.

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Harriet Alida headshot

Harriet Alida Lye is the author of the novels The Honey Farm and Let It Destroy You, as well as the memoir Natural Killer.

The Honey Farm is currently in production as a limited series for television. She founded the literary arts magazine Her Royal Majesty, which ran for many years and published the first short story by Alice Munro. Her essays and reporting have been published in The Globe & Mail, The New York Times, Hazlitt, and more.

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Content and Format

You should attend if

  • you want to learn to write short stories, novels, poetry, memoir, creative non-fiction, Y/A (young adult) or children’s literature
  • you’re already working on a book but would like to improve your writing with feedback from established writers and your peers
  • you’d like to know how to find someone to publish your work
  • you’d like to expand your own writing community by meeting like-minded aspiring writers
  • you’d like to build your professional network through meeting top authors, agents, editors, publishers, and publishing professionals

The workshop runs from June 23 to 28, 2024 and consists of orientation programming, five three-hour workshop classes, numerous craft talks and industry lectures, and one one-on-one feedback session with your mentor.

Three people talking on a panel
David Bezmozgis in conversation with literary agents Jackie Kaiser and Bridgette Kam.

Antonio Michael's Class
Antonio Michael Downing workshops student writing in 2023.

Janie and Julia Flash Assessments
Editors Janie Yoon and Julia McDowell offer flash assessments of student work.

Person talking on a microphone
Saeed Teebi discusses his critically acclaimed short story collection, Her First Palestinian.

Summer 2024 afternoon panels

Members of the public may purchase tickets for individual panels so they can attend virtually via Zoom.

Industry Panels

Ask the Publisher with Dan Wells
June 24, 2024 — 3:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Hear from the publisher behind Biblioasis, the visionary and intrepid independent press based in Windsor, Ontario. 
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Flash Assessments with Kelly Joseph (McClelland & Stewart) and Michael Ray (Zoetrope: All-Story)
June 25, 2024 — 2:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
A top book and top literary editor respond to the first pages of student work and explain if they would read on and why.
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What Agents Want with Hillary Jacobson (CAA) and Sam Hiyate (The Rights Factory)
June 26, 2024 — 2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
An agent from CAA in New York and the Rights Agency in Toronto discuss how they work with their clients.
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Craft Talks

Connecting To Your Why with Antonio Michael Downing
June 24, 2024 — 1:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
How to harness the personal stories that spawned your desire to write.
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Doing Your Own Thing with Colin McAdam
June 24, 2024 — 2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
How to ignore the wisdom of publishers and make your words the servants of your heart.
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Maintaining Momentum with Harriet Alida Lye
June 25, 2024 — 1:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Practical suggestions and existential ideas for sticking with your project for the long haul.
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Writing Vivid Characters with Shyam Selvadurai
June 26, 2024 — 1:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Various techniques that can be used to bring characters alive on the page, both in fiction and non-fiction.
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Poetry As a Domestic Art with Kate Cayley
June 27, 2024 — 1:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
What poetry means in daily life and how it fits into it.
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Writers I've Known with Joe Kertes
June 27, 2024 — 2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Award-winning novelist, humourist, and founder of the Humber School for Writers draws on three decades of working with established and emerging writers to focus on the extent to which writers need to combat or embrace their natures to create their art. 
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Exceptional Book Story with Nina Dunic
June 27, 2024 — 3:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Synopsis of event: David Bezmozgis talks to Nina Dunic about her Scotiabank Giller Prize-longlisted first novel, The Clarion.
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Application Process

Fees

The deadline to register is June 21, 2024. Those who register and pay their fees by May 3, 2024, are eligible for an early bird discount.

The 2024 regular fee is $1,666.75. Students who register and pay by May 3, 2024, will pay $1,583.41. Humber School for Writers graduates from the last three years (2021 to 2024) will pay $1,550.08.

The fee displayed is the standard domestic tuition fee and should be used as a guideline only. Actual fees will be calculated when you complete your registration and may vary slightly.

Cancellation Policy: Humber reserves the right to cancel the workshop due to low enrollment. If the workshop is cancelled, registrants will be notified by June 2, 2024. and a full refund of fees paid to Humber will be issued.

How to Apply

Students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible in order to improve their chance of being paired with their preferred mentor. To apply, please click on the link below and follow the steps to sign up for Slideroom and submit all the information requested.

For application inquiries, please contact David Bezmozgis at 416-675-6622, ext.3465 or david.bezmozgis@humber.ca.

Reputation

Over 330 of our alumni have published over 1000 books!

Notable alumni authors include

  • Eva Stachniak (The Winter Palace)
  • Roberta Rich (The Midwife of Venice)
  • Cathy Marie Buchanan (The Painted Girls)
  • Robert Rotenberg (The Guilty Plea)
  • Shari Lapeña (The Couple Next Door)

Person smiling and listening to someone speak at table
A student listens to Alissa York during the 2022 workshop at Victoria College.

Olive Senior leading a workshop

Olive Senior leads a workshop class.

Testimonials

“I’m truly happy Humber is exploring creative ways to continue with the workshop this summer. When I attended in 2018, we learned the finer points of craft in smaller classes, as well as the broader side of the business through talks and panel discussions--all things that can, thankfully, be taught virtually. The information presented not only enriched my short story and novel writing but helped prepare me for the day when I’m ready to send out my manuscript. It’s a relief to know that in these uncertain times, there’s still an opportunity for writers to dig deeper on a creative level, connect with other writers and learn to better express themselves as they give back to the world through their work.”

- Angie Ellis, 2018 Workshop Participant

"The Humber School for Writers provided the most valuable thing to me as an emerging writer— an audience. Readers. It’s a creative digital forum where keen and sensitive readers treat your writing with close consideration, and lend their most thoughtful feedback. What’s gained in having your work read with serious attention is that you, the writer, begin to take your writing seriously. With sharpened instincts, you learn to work with an eye to mastery. Critical feedback opens a well to more vivid and impactful stories. Working in a collaborative virtual community, among mentors and likeminded participants, you find your footing as a writer, you see where you are exactly, and form a better understanding of where you may want to go."

- Andrew Morris, 2018 Workshop Participant

"I’m getting so much out of the Humber School for Writers correspondence program. The format is ideally suited to the work – instead of attending theoretical lectures and struggling to apply them to my writing, I get thoughtful, personalized instruction on every piece I submit. My teacher and I have built a meaningful rapport and although she never pushes me, I know she’s waiting, so not producing is not an option. In the hands of these distance learning experts, the weeklong Humber Writers Workshop, which I attended last summer, will not lose any of its lustre. Don’t miss the opportunity."

- Bonny Reichert, 2019 Workshop Participant

About the Workshop Location

At 59 Hayden Street, Humber’s International Graduate School (IGS) campus is uniquely integrated into Toronto’s downtown core. With proximity to the city’s business, technology, and cultural hubs, the IGS features classroom tools and technologies that encourage collaboration and creativity. Meeting rooms with smart technology and workstations with functional writable desks offer multiple ways to make ideas visible and workshop solutions.

Take a Tour of the IGS

Humber International Graduate School video

IGS campus inside

Exterior of IGS building

Opportunities for Further Study

The Correspondence program

The Humber Summer Workshop in Creative Writing is a complement to the Creative Writing by Correspondence Program, the two together comprising a flexible and affordable alternative to a standard low-residency MFA. The Correspondence Program, formally known as the Creative Writing - Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction, Poetry program, is a 28-week distance studio program offering aspiring writers the exceptional opportunity to complete book-length projects with guidance from a distinguished mentor. You’ll work from the comfort of home and receive extensive feedback via either regular or electronic mail. The program is customized to address the particular needs of your novel, collection of short stories, volume of poetry, or piece of creative non-fiction. It may include assessments of your handling of plot, story, character, dialogue, pace and style with the goal of improving your manuscript and refining your craft. Writers looking for an affordable alternative to a low-residency MFA program will find this program especially helpful following the Summer Workshop in Creative Writing.