CW MFA: 2022 in Review | College of Arts

CW MFA: 2022 in Review

wood type letters spelling "year in review"We’ve had a fabulous first year with Canisia Lubrin at the helm of the MFA program and Catherine Bush continues to supervise MFA students and teach fiction for us and the many writers clamoring into the new Creative Writing undergraduate program at the University of Guelph.

Our Speakeasy reading series, co-hosted this year by Emily Kellogg and Alex Cafarelli, was finally back in person at Glad Day Bookshop, and it continues to be live streamed—a post-COVID perk.

Of course, many warm congratulations to those who’ve published books in 2022 and (so far) in 2023! Over the last year and half, we laud story collections from Kathy Friedman, Lauren Carter, and Idman Nur Omar; novels by Tanis Rideout, Zoe Whittall, Kai Thomas, and Bronwyn Fischer; a memoir from Kyo Maclear; upcoming Here For Now theatre productions by both Judith Thompson and Taylor Marie Graham; and poetry collections from Shani Mootoo, Nancy Jo Cullen, Leesa Dean, Candace de Taeye, Laurie D. Graham, Jacob McArthur Mooney, Hollay Ghadery, and Britta Badour.

Dionne Brand’s poems of nearly four decades were collected in Nomenclature—one of the CBC’s Best Books of 2022 and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry.

We welcomed David Bradford’s translation from the French of Nicholas Dawson's Désormais, ma demeure: House Within a House, and Best Canadian Poetry 2023 (an anthology published by Biblioasis) featured poems by Laurie D. Graham and recent grad Leslie Joy Ahenda. Best Canadian Poetry 2024 will feature poems by Nancy Jo Cullen and incoming student Lisa Richter.

MFA faculty member Catherine Bush’s climate essay ‘Earth’s Aunties’ appeared in NOEMA; Rebeccah Love’s short film Eve Parade premiered at the Paradise Theatre; current student Gabrielle Drolet made contributions to The Globe & Mail, The Walrus, and Chatelaine; and Good Mom on Paper (an anthology that explores the relationship between motherhood and creativity) included work by Jael Richardson.

Our grads, faculty, and incoming students continue to appear on shortlists all over the place!

First off, we celebrate Bardia Sinaee for his 2022 Trillium Award win for the poetry collection Intruder. Liz Howard, for Letters to a Bruised Cosmos, was a 2022 Trillium finalist, and both Liz Howard and David Bradford, for Dream of No One but Myself, were finalists for the 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize. Both Bradford and Sinaee were shortlisted for the 2022 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Bradford won the 2022 A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry.

Kathy Friedman was a 2022 Danuta Gleed Award finalist for All the Shining People, and Friedman and Laurie D. Graham (for Fast Commute) were both shortlisted for 2023 Trillium Book Awards. Robert Chafe and David Bradford were finalists for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and Kai Thomas was shortlisted for the 2023 Amazon First Novel Award for his national bestseller, In the Upper Country.

There are so many accomplishments to share. Mahak Jain's ‘Bharatanatyam in Ballet Shoes’ made the CBC's ‘10 kids books by Asian Canadian authors to read right now’ and Kathy Friedman's short fiction was on the CBC's list of the ‘15 books to read for Jewish Heritage Month.’ Zoe Whittall's novel, The Spectacular, and Nancy Jo Cullen's book, Nothing Will Save Your Life, were included in the CBC's ‘26 books to read for Pride Month 2022.' Nomenclature, by Dionne Brand, appeared on this same list in 2023.

Current student Yohani Mendis’ essay ‘2020: A Family Odyssey’ was nominated for the 2022 National Magazine Award, and recent grad Anna Lee Popham made the 2022 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist. Julie Mannell, as well as incoming MFA student Terese Mason Pierre were named 2023 Writers’ Trust Rising Stars, and Mason Pierre won the 2023 Writers’ Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. Another one of our incoming students, K. R. Byggdin, recently won the 2023 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize.

In recognition of our faculty members: Kyo Maclear was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature, Margaret Christakos was a finalist for the 2022 Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and another longtime mentor of the MFA program, Shani Mootoo, received the Writers' Trust Engel Findley Award.

Finally we tip our hats to those in the MFA community who’ve taken up big new projects. Meaghan Strimas, at one time (and for many years) our MFA program administrator, launched the new Bachelor of Creative & Professional Writing program at Humber College in September 2022 (with help from writing instructors and MFA alum Eufemia Fantetti, Kathy Friedman, and Leanne Milech). Dionne Brand, upon retiring from the University of Guelph last year, will serve as editorial director of Alchemy, a new publishing program from Knopf Canada which will publish fiction and nonfiction titles. And Andrew Faulkner and Leigh Nash (with Debby de Groot) are just about to set in motion a new publishing house for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, called Assembly Press.

While our ever-growing alumni list (197 and counting) makes it impossible to account for everyone’s achievements, we’re doubling down on our efforts to keep track of it all. Reach out to program administrator Libby Johnstone at and send us your news at any time. We’ll share it on our Twitter and Facebook feeds, our listservs, and in this newsletter next year.

Thanks again to everyone in the MFA community for the work you’re doing out in the world. For ongoing highlights, keep tabs on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

We want to know what you’re up to! Share your publications, events, and other literary news with us on social media so we can help spread the word.