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Immerse yourself in a creative writing workshop this summer!

The 2020 workshop is scheduled to run July 12-17, 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, Creative 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. 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.

Creative Director's Message

This year marks the 29th anniversary of Humber’s Summer Workshop in Creative Writing. Over those years, some of the most illustrious authors in North America—and beyond—have come to Humber to teach in the workshop. Thousands of students have benefited from their wisdom and generosity, as well as the wisdom and generosity of the publishing industry professionals who appear on our panels to demystify the art and business of writing. The goal remains to continue the fine tradition the school has established and to adapt and improve as times change and opportunity allows. Last year, we introduced a poetry-only workshop class led by the terrific poet and prose writer Olive Senior. It proved to be such a success that Olive will lead it again this summer. Returning as well are Humber veterans Colin McAdam and Alissa York, exceptional writers and much-beloved instructors. Joining them for the first time at the workshop are Marina Endicott, Sheila Heti, Michael Redhill and Naben Ruthnum—writers I admire and know to be deeply committed to teaching. And while part of our tradition at Humber includes inviting at least one writer from abroad—most recently Ben Fountain, Jenny Offill and Nell Freudenberger—this year we field an all-Canadian group! These are writers whose work is of the highest caliber and whose approach to subject and form ranges widely. I’m excited to spend a week in their company and, just like their students, to learn from their experiences and insights.

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

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 prizewinning author of 18 books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s literature.
Her many literary awards include the Commonwealth Writers Prize for her first book, Summer Lightning and most recently the 2016 OCM Bocas Award for Caribbean Literature for The Pain Tree. Her poetry book Over the Roofs of the World was a finalist for the Governor-General’s Award. Her work has been translated into many languages and is taught internationally. Her poetry book Gardening in the Tropics was on the CAPE syllabus for Caribbean schools for 14 years and has been translated into several languages including Arabic. Her many honours and awards include the Gold Musgrave Medal of the Institute of Jamaica, an honorary doctorate (D.Litt.) from the University of the West Indies and the Writers’ Trust Matt Cohen Award 2019 for lifetime achievement. She is the subject of the book Olive Senior by Denise deCaires Narain in the Writers and their Work series, UK: Northcote Publishers 2011.

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Alissa York

Alissa York’s internationally acclaimed novels include Effigy (shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize), Fauna and, most recently, The Naturalist (winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction).
Stories from Alissa's short fiction collection, Any Given Power, won the Journey Prize and the Bronwen Wallace Award. Her essays and articles have appeared in The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, Brick magazine and elsewhere. In 2018, she won the Writers' Trust Engel Findley Award for a Writer in Mid- Career. She has been teaching and mentoring writers for over a decade, and has been faculty at the Humber School for Writers since 2017. Having lived all over Canada, she now makes her home in Toronto.

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

The workshop runs from July 12 to 17, 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 2020, afternoon panels include the following:

Mentor Talks

Getting Into Character: Useful Secrets of the Actor’s Training 
Marina Endicott

On Interviewing: For Writers 
Sheila Heti

What You (Need to) Know: The Art of Literary Research 
Alissa York   

Persistence: Confronting Failure 
Colin McAdam

Shifting Modes: Writing Across Genres 
Naben Ruthnum

The Paint Never Dries: The Art of Revision 
Michael Redhill

 

Industry Panels

Ask the Publisher 
Martha Sharpe
, Publisher, Flying Books

What Agents Want 
Denise Bukowski
, The Bukowski Agency 
Rob Firing
, Transatlantic Agency

Flash Assessments 
Bhavna Chauhan
, Doubleday Canada 
Russell Smith
, Dundurn

 

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 suite-style, consisting of two secure and separate bedrooms with shared kitchenette and shared bath within the suite. Please note that should you choose to stay in the Lakeshore Campus residence, you will be placed in one of the bedrooms within the suite, and will not have the whole suite to yourself. Students who wish to stay in residence can request a specific roommate or will be paired with a fellow student by the workshop administration. (Students will be able to indicate the preferred gender of their roommate.) The price of a shared suite is $40 + HST per night, per student. Rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis. In case of high demand, we regret that we cannot guarantee on-campus accommodation.
 
More information about the amenities in residence can be found here:

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