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, 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.
Giles Blunt grew up in North Bay, Ontario, a small city similar to the Algonquin Bay of the John Cardinal novels. After studying English literature at the University of Toronto, he moved to New York City, where he lived for the next twenty years, before moving back to Toronto in 2002. The first Cardinal novel, Forty Words for Sorrow, won the British Crime Writers Silver Dagger award, and the second, The Delicate Storm, won the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis award for best novel, as did the latest, Until the Night. He has been twice longlisted for the Dublin IMPAC award.
Ben Fountain is the author of a novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and a short story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara. His work has received the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Fiction, the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Fiction, the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, and a Whiting Writer’s Award, and has been a finalist for the National Book Award in both the U.S. and the U.K. (international authors division). His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, IntranQu’îllités (Haiti), Esquire, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Zoetrope: All-Story, and elsewhere. His nonfiction book Beautiful Country Burn Again was published in 2018, and is based on the Pulitzer Prize-nominated series of essays and reportage that he wrote on the 2016 U.S. presidential election for The Guardian.
Kyo Maclear is an essayist, novelist and children’s author. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages, published in over twenty countries, and garnered nominations from the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the TD Canadian Children's Literature Awards, the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and the National Magazine Awards. Her writing on contemporary culture has appeared in LitHub, The Millions, The Guardian, Brick, Prefix Photo, The Volta, The Globe and Mail, among other publications. She has been a national arts reviewer for Canadian Art and a monthly arts columnist for Toronto Life. Her most recent book is the hybrid memoir Birds Art Life (2017). Click here to learn more about Kyo Maclear.
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, and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in the U.K. His second novel, Fall, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the Paragraphe Hugh Maclennan Award. A Beautiful Truth, his third novel, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award.
Olive Senior was born and brought up in Jamaica and educated in Jamaica and Canada. She started her career as a journalist with the Daily Gleaner and later entered the world of publishing. She was editor of two of the Caribbean's leading journals - Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies and Jamaica Journal, published by Institute of Jamaica Publications of which she was also Managing Director. She left Jamaica in 1989, spent some years in Europe and since 1993 has been based in Toronto.
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 York'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 1998, Alissa co-founded Cyclops Press, an independent publishing company specializing in literary multimedia titles. She has been teaching and mentoring writers for a decade. Having lived all over Canada, she now makes her home in Toronto. Click here to learn more about Alissa York.
Michelle Winters is a writer and painter from Saint John, N.B., living in Toronto. Her debut novel, I Am a Truck, was shortlisted for the 2017 Giller Prize, and she was a nominee for the 2011 Journey Prize for short fiction. She is currently working on a new novel called Hair for Men, and a series of dinosaur skeleton portraits. Click here to learn more about Michelle Winters
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 2019 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.
Keynote Talk: Charting Your Own Path
Jenny Offill, Timothy Findley Visiting Chair in Creative Writing, in conversation with David Bezmozgis
Doing It for the First Time: What New Authors Need to Know
Alison Maclean, Director, Humber Creative Book Publishing Program
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
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.
Sarah Maclachlan (left) discusses the state of Canadian publishing with Nita Pronovost, Emily M. Keeler, and David Bezmozgis during the 2018 Summer Workshop.
During the 2018 workshop, mentor Kyo Maclear leads an afternoon session on the visual storytelling of picture books.
Jenny Offill, 2018 workshop mentor, discusses a student’s work.
A 2018 workshop student listens during an afternoon panel.
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.
"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
A 2018 student workshops a story with his colleagues and mentor, Alissa York.
Humber College’s scenic Lakeshore Campus is located at 3199 Lakeshore Boulevard West in Toronto, Ontario. It has:
For more information about the history of the Lakeshore Campus, visit the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre.
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 (email@example.com) 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.
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. As of 2017, 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.