Skip to content
  • Lakeshore Campus
This program is part of: HUMBER | SCHOOL FOR WRITERS

Immerse yourself in a creative writing workshop this summer!

Summer Workshop in Creative Writing

Dates: July 7 - 12, 2019

Location: Humber Lakeshore Campus


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 2019 workshop, a poetry-only workshop will be led by renowned poet and author Olive Senior. We encourage interested poets to enrol early to determine enrolment capacity.

David Bezmozgis, Program 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, 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 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.

Director'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 Director - Humber School for Writers
Summer Workshop in Creative Writing
Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts

Summer 2019 Faculty

Giles Blunt

Giles Blunt

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

Ben Fountain

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

Kyo Maclear

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 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

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, 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

Olive Senior

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

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 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

Michelle Winters

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

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, 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.

In 2019, the afternoon panels will include the following:

Ben Fountain, Timothy Findley Visiting Chair, in conversation with David Bezmozgis

Doing It for the First Time: What New Authors Need to Know
Alison Maclean, Humber Creative Book Publishing and veteran editor

Trust Yourself
Colin McAdam

Trust Your Editor
Michelle Winters

Ask the Publisher
Doug Pepper, McClelland & Stewart

The Art of Wandering
Kyo Maclear

Why Poetry Matters--Especially Today
Olive Senior

Flash Assessments
Janice Zawerbny, Editor, Harper Collins Canada
Jessica Johnson, Executive Editor, The Walrus magazine

Look it Up: The Art of Research
Giles Blunt

What Agents Want
Leonicka Valcius, Transatlantic Agency
Martha Webb, CookeMcDermid Agency

In Praise of Process: Finding What Works
Alissa York

Exceptional Book Story
Paige Cooper, author of Zolitude, in conversation with David Bezmozgis

Student Success Stories
Carolyn Bennett, author of Please Stand By (NON Publishing)
Kate Blair, author of The Magpie’s Library (DCB)
Bruce Geddes, author of The Higher The Monkey Climbs (NON Publishing)

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.


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.


"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

Panel 4
A 2018 student workshops a story with his colleagues and mentor, Alissa York.


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.


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 ( 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.

Commons Field

Pond in Colonel Samuel Smith Park

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. 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.