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Immerse yourself in a creative writing workshop this summer!

The 2020 workshop is scheduled to run July 5-10, 2020
Check back for programming details in early 2020

About the workshop:

Since 1992, the Humber School for Writers (HSW) has offered an immersive, focused workshop to jump start your creative writing. During our Summer Workshop in 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. Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced writer, there’s something for you in our July writing workshop! During the 2019 workshop, a poetry-only workshop will be led by Olive Senior if there is sufficient demand.

David Bezmozgis, Program Director - Humber School for Writers

David Bezmozgis

David Bezmozgis, a writer and filmmaker, is the author of Natasha and Other Stories, The Free World, The Betrayers and Immigrant City, a story collection publishing in spring of 2019. His writing has appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, Zoetrope All-Story, and Best American Short Stories. He has been twice nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, 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, each nominated in the writing category at the Canadian Screen Awards. He was on the writing staff of the television series Orphan Black and, most recently, was a screenwriter for the forthcoming animated feature film Charlotte, about the German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon.

Director's Message

The Summer Workshop in Creative Writing is the companion to our Creative Writing by Correspondence program and the highlight of the year at the Humber School for Writers. Each year, the workshop is both different and the same. It's different because we have a tradition of inviting new authors to teach for us. Last summer, we had the great fortune of having Jenny Offill and Tracey Lindberg as our visiting authors. This year, we'll have Ben Fountain, whose novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, is one of the most accomplished, incisive and bitterly funny books about contemporary America. Along with Ben, we'll also have Michelle Winters on our faculty, whose great, iconoclastic first novel, I Am A Truck, was shortlisted for last year's Scotiabank Giller Prize. They'll be joining veteran Humber mentors Giles Blunt, Kyo Maclear, Colin McAdam, Olive Senior, and Alissa York. Students will benefit from their wisdom as well as from an array of publishing professionals who come to dispel the myths and mysteries behind the writing and publishing process.

Anyone who is serious—or seriously curious—about becoming a writer will learn a great deal over the course of the week. The quality of our faculty and the demonstrable success of our graduates marks Humber as one of the best writing retreats in North America. Located at our beautiful Lakeshore Campus, it's proved to be an inspiring, challenging and life-altering week for aspiring writers for more than 25 years.

David Bezmozgis
Program Director - Humber School for Writers
Summer Workshop in Creative Writing
Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts

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 build your professional network through meeting top authors, agents, editors, publishers, and publishing professionals

The workshop runs from July 7 to 12, 2019 and consists of Sunday panels and a reception, five weekday classes from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm, a lunch break, and afternoon lectures. For those who apply by June 7, the 2018 fee is $950, plus HST. The cost of the workshop for those applying between June 8 and July 2 is $1050, plus HST. Some scholarships are available to applicants who meet the awards’ criteria. Meals and accommodations are not included.

panel image 1
Sarah Maclachlan (left) discusses the state of Canadian publishing with Nita Pronovost, Emily M. Keeler, and David Bezmozgis during the 2018 Summer Workshop.

Panel 3
During the 2018 workshop, mentor Kyo Maclear leads an afternoon session on the visual storytelling of picture books.

Panel 2
Jenny Offill, 2018 workshop mentor, discusses a student’s work.

student listening
A 2018 workshop student listens during an afternoon panel.

In 2018, afternoon panels included the following:

Keynote Talk: Charting Your Own Path
Jenny Offill, Timothy Findley Visiting Chair in Creative Writing, in conversation with David Bezmozgis

Humber Success Stories
Becky Blake, Proof I Was Here (Buckrider Books 2019)
Tehmina Khan, Things She Could Never Have (Mawenzi House 2017)
David Albertyn, Undercard (Anansi 2019)

Doing It for the First Time: What New Authors Need to Know
Alison Maclean, Director, Humber Creative Book Publishing Program

Historical Fiction
Adam Foulds, Workshop Faculty

The State of Canadian Publishing
Emily M. Keeler, Editor, Coach House Books
Sarah Maclachlan, President and Publisher, House of Anansi Press
Nita Pronovost, Editorial Director, Simon & Schuster Canada

(Mis) Characterization: Indigenous Storytelling, Accuracy and Authenticity – a Story in Four Parts
Tracey Lindberg, Workshop Faculty

Flash Assessments
Nicholas Garrison, Associate Publisher, Penguin Random House 
Jenny Bradshaw, Editor, McClelland & Stewart

The Story of a Story
Alissa York, Workshop Faculty

New Horizons: Writing Interactive and Virtual Reality Stories
David Oppenheim, Producer, National Film Board of Canada

Being There: The Art of Literary Research
Colin McAdam, Workshop Faculty

Nobody Knows How To Write A Book
Michelle Winters, Author of 2017 Scotiabank-Giller Prize-shortlisted I Am A Truck, in conversation with David Bezmozgis

What Agents Want
Barbara Berson, Hellen Heller Agency
Martha Webb, CookeMcDermid Agency

"Picture" Books: Visual Storytelling
Kyo Maclear, Workshop Faculty

Check back for 2019 programming updates.

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)

Course Mentors
The team of 2018 workshop mentors gathers for a group photo at Gabekanaang-ziibi ("mouth of the river"), the first stop in the Courtyard Trail of Indigenous Cultural Markers at Humber Lakeshore. The team is, from left to right, Jenny Offill, Tracey Lindberg, Adam Foulds, Alissa York, Colin McAdam, Kyo Maclear, and David Bezmozgis.

Panel 4

A 2018 student workshops a story with his colleagues and mentor, Alissa York.

Testimonials

"Everything I learned at the Humber workshop was incredibly valuable. The feedback I received during the morning class was pivotal in my decision to move forward with certain elements of my novel. I had a fantastic mentor in Colin McAdam, whom I still hear in my head when I over-write. The panels and lectures in the afternoon were highly informative, covering everything from craft, to research, to the business side of publishing—all from an impressive line-up of established writers. It was all so much more than I expected! I look forward to moving on to the creative writing program this January!"

- Angie Ellis, 2018 Workshop Participant

"The Humber School for Writers offers something truly unique: a collaborative, intensive, and intimate experience with distinguished faculty and an enthusiastic cohort of emerging writers. Aside from having gained both formal and practical skills, I left the summer writers’ workshop at Humber with fresh ambitions for my work and a clear sense of direction for myself as a writer... Not to mention it was a lot of fun!"

- Andrew Morris, 2018 Workshop Participant

"I know that I have made life-long friends. I know that I will always stay connected with my teacher. I know that my writing life was deeply and importantly changed because I attended the workshop."

- Vanessa Shields, 2018 Workshop Participant

"My time in the Humber Summer Workshop was life-changing.  It affirmed for me that writing is what I am meant to do.  My small group was incredibly supportive and we still keep in touch regularly.  Kyo Maclear, my small group leader, provided thoughtful feedback and gave us so many resources and ideas to help us with our projects.  I am very excited to start my Humber grad certificate in January!"

- Suzanne Hagarty, 2018 Workshop Participant

"The summer workshop at Humber was the perfect blend of improving my writing skills and learning about the industry. Spending time each day in a small group with our well-published Canadian author, I developed insights into the craft of literary fiction which I could immediately apply to my own work. The panels and presentations by authors, publishers, and editors expanded my understanding of the industry. In one week, this program helped me enter a community of support for life as an aspiring writer."

- Sylvia Barnard, 2018 Workshop Participant

Location

About Lakeshore Campus

Humber College’s scenic Lakeshore Campus is located at 3199 Lakeshore Boulevard West in Toronto, Ontario. It has:

  • Residence for 400 students
  • Hiking, walking and biking trails
  • Easy access to downtown Toronto from multiple transit routes
  • Proximity to Toronto cultural attractions, including the Air Canada Centre and Rogers Centre, clubs, theatres, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the CN Tower, Ontario Place and Harbourfront Centre
  • LEED-Silver certified Lakeshore Commons building, featuring airy, open common areas and workspaces, computer labs, multi-media production suites, an art gallery and a cafeteria

For more information about the history of the Lakeshore Campus, visit the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre.

Residence

A limited block of rooms has been reserved in our Lakeshore Campus residence for Summer Workshop students who would like to stay on campus. Units are dorm-style, consisting of two separate bedrooms with shared kitchenette and shared bath. The cost is $41 plus HST per day. Students who are interested in a room should email Ariadna Jimenez (ariadna.jimenez@humber.ca) by May 10, 2019. Rooms will be issued on a first-come first-served basis. In case of high demand, we regret that we cannot guarantee on-campus accommodation.

Commons Field

Pond in Colonel Samuel Smith Park

outside of lakeshore campus

Toronto skyline from Colonel Samuel Smith Park

Opportunities for Further Study

The Correspondence program

Humber’s Creative Writing - Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction, Poetry program is a 30-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.

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. Students who complete the Summer Workshop are eligible for a $300 rebate for the Correspondence Program, and vice versa. The rebate is valid for three calendar years; thus students who complete the 2019 Summer Workshop will be able to apply their rebate for Creative Writing by Correspondence through September 2022.

smiling woman writing with a pencil