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Immerse yourself in a creative writing workshop this summer!

The 2020 workshop is scheduled to run online from July 13-17, 2020

About the workshop:

Since 1992, the Humber School for Writers (HSW) has offered an immersive, focused workshop to jump start your creative writing. The effects of the COVID-19 outbreak have underscored the value of community, so to support the ongoing health of our community of writers, the 2020 creative writing workshop will be offered virtually. You’ll have a real time mentor-led workshop experience from the comfort of home, and attend online panels and craft talks given by top industry professionals and Humber workshop faculty. 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 July writing workshop! Please note that Olive Senior’s 2020 poetry workshop is now full.

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 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 taught 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. And in this trying and unusual year, they have all agreed to lead their workshop classes virtually so as to keep the chain of the Humber Workshop in Creative Writing unbroken!

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.
Please note that Olive Senior’s 2020 poetry workshop is now full.

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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 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 July 13 to 17, 2020 and consists of five three-hour workshop classes, numerous craft talks and industry lectures, and one one-on-one feedback session with your mentor.

The deadline to register is July 3, and the fee is $599 plus HST. Students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible in order to improve their chance of being paired with their preferred mentor.

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

Poetry as Transaction: Writing through the Pandemic
Olive Senior


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



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.


“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

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 in tuition for the Creative Writing correspondence program for three years (up to, and including the September 2023 intake). Students who have completed the Creating Writing correspondence program will receive a 30% rebate for the 2020 online Summer Workshop, or a $300 rebate for future on-site workshops in summer 2021, 2022 or 2023.

smiling woman writing with a pencil