The University of Guelph’s Creative Writing MFA program is flourishing after a decade, and we’re proud to share the ongoing achievements of our alumni. Here are some highlights of well-deserved recognition received by members of our MFA community over the past year.
Graduates and current students published nine books and presented several new theatrical works. Ten students and alumni also read work or hosted events at the 2017 International Festival of Authors. Professor Dionne Brand curated an anthology of emerging Toronto writers for Bookthug, entitled The Unpublished City, which included pieces by Diana Biacora, Nicole Chin, Simone Dalton, Adnan Khan, Shoilee Khan, Canisia Lubrin, Dalton Derkson, and David Bradford. Contributors to The Unpublished City also kicked off the MFA’s successful student-run reading series, Speakeasy, this past fall. For leadership in the broader community, Jael Richardson received a Brampton Citizens Inspiration Award for her work as founder and Artistic Director of the Festival of Literary Diversity.
Alumna Melanie Mah won the 2017 Trillium Book Award for her debut novel, The Sweetest One; for which Leesa Dean and Danila Botha were also finalists. Botha was additionally shortlisted for a Vine Award for excellence in Canadian Jewish literature. Becky Blake, winner of the CBC Short Fiction Prize in 2013, added the CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize to her accomplishments this year.
The Trillium Award for Poetry went to past MFA administrator Meaghan Strimas and alumna Laurie Graham was also a finalist. Shane Neilson was awarded the Walrus Poetry Prize this year for his poem “Epistemology.” Neilson, Graham, Jacob McArthur Mooney, and current student Bardia Sinaee were all included in the Best Canadian Poetry in English series’ Best of the Best Canadian Poetry: Tenth Anniversary Edition. Canisia Lubrin’s debut poetry collection Voodoo Hypothesis was named a CBC best poetry book of 2017.
Over in the theatre world, alumni Robert Chafe and Anna Chatterton were both finalists for this year's Governor General's Literary Award in Drama. And on the big screen Kathleen Hepburn’s debut feature film Never Steady, Never Still (based on her award-winning short) premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and went on to earn the Vancouver International Film Festival’s B.C. Emerging Filmmaker and Sea to Sky Awards, as well as the Emerging Canadian Director Award from the Director's Guild of Canada.
Congrats to all, and to the countless other graduates making fantastic work across genres. May 2018 be filled with creative inspiration!