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Immerse yourself in a creative writing workshop this summer!

The 2020 workshop is scheduled to run July 12-17, 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 2020 workshop, a poetry-only workshop will be led by Olive Senior.

David Bezmozgis, Program Co-ordinator - 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. His writing has appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, Zoetrope All-Story, and Best American Short 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, each nominated in the writing category at the Canadian Screen Awards. He was on the writing staff for the fifth and final season of the television series Orphan Black.

Faculty Bios

Marina Endicott

Marina Endicott’s Good to a Fault was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and CBC Radio’s Canada Reads, and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best
Book, Canada and Caribbean. Her next novel, The Little Shadows, was short-listed for the Governor General’s award and long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, as was Close to Hugh. She also writes for theatre and film. Her latest novel is The Difference.

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Sheila Heti

Sheila Heti is the author of eight books of fiction and non-fiction, including the novels Ticknor, Motherhood, and How Should a Person Be? and
the story collection The Middle Stories. The New York Times book critics named her one of "The New Vanguard,” a list of fifteen women writers from around the world who are "shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century." Her books have been translated into twenty-two languages. Her most recent novel, Motherhood, was chosen by the book critics at the New York Times as one of their top books of 2018, and New York magazine chose it as their top book of the year. She is the former Interviews Editor at The Believer magazine.

Photographer: Steph Martyniuk

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Colin McAdam

Colin McAdam has a PhD in English from Cambridge University. He has mentored writers at the Banff Centre and the University of Guelph-Humber.
His first novel, Some Great Thing, won the Amazon/Books in Canada Best First Novel Award.

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Michael Redhill

Michael Redhill is the author of sixteen books, including the novels Martin Sloane, Consolation, and Bellevue Square, winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Giller
Prize. He has published six collections of poetry and two plays, as well as a YA novel entitled Saving Houdini. Under the name Inger Ash Wolfe, Redhill has written four crime novels featuring Detective Inspector Hazel Micallef. He lives in Toronto.

Photographer: Amanda Withers

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Naben Ruthnum

Naben Ruthnum is a Toronto-based novelist, critic, and screenwriter. He is the author of the 2017 book Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race about
the ways in which South Asian identity in the West is often received. Ruthnum's fiction has been published in magazines ranging from Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine to Granta, and he is a winner of Canada’s Journey Prize for short fiction. His first two thrillers, Find You In The Dark and Your Life Is Mine, were published in North America by Atria / Simon and Schuster. Both have been optioned and are in development for television. Ruthnum and his frequent screenwriting partner Kris Bertin currently have projects in development at Oddfellows Entertainment.

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Olive Senior

Olive Senior is the author of 17 books in different genres including fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature. Her four books of poetry have been widely
studied and translated. Gardening in the Tropics was a textbook for senior students in Caribbean schools for 14 years and was on the International Baccalaureate curriculum. “Plants”, a poem from the book, was the selection for the English Literature exam by the U.S. College Board’s Advanced Placement Program in 2018. Gardening was most recently translated into Arabic (10,000 copies - National Council for the Arts in Kuwait) and Shell into Spanish by the Universidad Nacional de Rosario in Argentina. Over the roofs of the world was a finalist for the Governor-General’s award.

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Alissa York

Alissa York’s internationally acclaimed novels include MercyEffigy (shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize), Fauna and, most recently, The Naturalist.
Stories from her short fiction collection, Any Given Power, won the Journey Prize and the Bronwen Wallace Award.

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Co-ordinator'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 Co-ordinator - Humber School for Writers
Summer Workshop in Creative Writing
Humber Faculty of Media & Creative 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, 2020 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 12, the 2020 fee is $950, plus HST. The cost of the workshop for those applying between June 13 and July 6 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 2020 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. Pricing and availability to be confirmed in early 2020. 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 2020 Summer Workshop will be able to apply their rebate for Creative Writing by Correspondence through September 2023.

smiling woman writing with a pencil