TIFA: 15 years of the Guelph Creative Writing MFA
Write Now: Change the Future 15 years of the Guelph Creative Writing MFA takes place October 30 at 12pm as part of the Toronto International Festival of Authors.
More than ever now we need writers to imagine a bold future, to rebuild our world through stories. Over the past fifteen years, since its inception in 2006, the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph has nurtured and supported the many voices and imaginaries of emerging writers who recognize the power of language to summon a different world. Graduates of the program have gone on to remake the literary landscape across this country. We invite you to join us at this milestone in celebrating the program, its communities, its voices, and the power of the word to transform lives.
This special anniversary TIFA event features readings from program grads – from the very first cohort through to the most recent – and faculty: Britta B., Dionne Brand, Catherine Bush, Kathleen Hepburn, Sheniz Janmohamed, Rebeccah Love, Canisia Lubrin, Tyler Pennock, Jael Richardson, Bardia Sinaee, Aaron Tang/Sheung-King and Kai Thomas.
We wish we could gather with you in person but we’d be thrilled if you would join us online. Please register through the link here: festivalofauthors.ca/event/write-now-change-the-future-guelph/
Coming together on the virtual stage for this celebration will be:
Britta B. // 2019 MFA Cohort // is a Toronto-based poet, spoken-word performer, emcee and artist educator. Most recently, Britta was recognized as a 2020 Finalist for the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award. Her works have featured in print, in sound and onstage across North America. She is an alumna of the Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity Spoken Word Residency.
Dionne Brand // MFA Faculty // is a renowned poet, novelist and essayist known for formal experimentation and the beauty and urgency of her work. Brand’s award-winning poetry books include Land to Light On, thirsty, Inventory and Ossuaries, winner of the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize. Her latest, The Blue Clerk, an essay poem, won the Trillium Book Award. Theory, her latest of five novels, won the Toronto Book Award. Brand is a recipient of the Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction, 2021. She served as Toronto’s third Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2012 and was named to the Order of Canada in 2017.
Catherine Bush // MFA Coordinator // is the author of five novels, including Blaze Island (2020), a Globe & Mail Best Book, and The Rules of Engagement, a national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book. Her books have been shortlisted for the Trillium and City of Toronto Book Awards. Her nonfiction has been published in the New York Times, Brick, Emergence and Best Canadian Essays. She has been the Coordinator of the Guelph Creative Writing MFA since 2008.
Kathleen Hepburn // 2010 MFA Cohort // is a writer/director based on the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. Her debut feature, Never Steady, Never Still, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was awarded Best Canadian Film and Best Director by the Vancouver Film Critics Circle, as well as Special Jury Prize at the Dublin International Film Festival.
Sheniz Janmohamed // 2006 MFA Cohort // is a poet, artist educator and land artist who has performed her work in venues across the world, including the Jaipur Literature Festival, Alliance Française de Nairobi and the Aga Khan Museum. She has three collections of poetry: Bleeding Light, Firesmoke, and Reminders on the Path, all published by Mawenzi House. She is the founder of Questions for Ancestors and the Sufi Poets Series.
Rebeccah Love // 2015 MFA Cohort // is a Toronto-based filmmaker, writer, visual artist and community organizer. She has produced eight short films, focusing on love, illness and neighbourhoods. These stories have played TIFF, VIFF, FNC, Kingston, the Future of Film Showcase and CBC.
Canisia Lubrin // Incoming MFA Coordinator, 2012 MFA Cohort // is the author of three books, including Code Noir (Knopf, 2023) and The Dyzgraphxst (M&S, 2020), winner of, among others, the Griffin Prize and OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean literature. Awarded a 2021 Windham-Campbell poetry prize, Lubrin has just joined the Creative Writing faculty at the University of Guelph.
Tyler Pennock // 2011 MFA cohort // is an Indigenous two-spirit queerdo from Northern Alberta, and author of Bones (2020). They live in Toronto.
Jael Richardson // 2008 MFA cohort // is the author of the bestselling novel Gutter Child, out now with HarperCollins Canada, as well as The Stone Thrower: A Daughter’s Lesson, a Father’s Life, a memoir based on her relationship with her father, CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey. Richardson lives in Brampton, Ontario, where she founded and serves as the Executive Director for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD).
Bardia Sinaee // 2017 MFA cohort // is the author of Intruder (Anansi, 2021).
Sheung-King // 2016 MFA cohort // Aaron Tang’s novel, You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked, is a finalist for the 2021 Governor General’s Award for fiction, was shortlisted for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, longlisted for Canada Reads 2021 and named one of the best book debuts by the Globe and Mail.
Kai Thomas // 2018 MFA cohort // is a writer, carpenter, and land-steward. He is currently editing his debut novel, In The Upper Country, to be published in Canada and the US (Viking, 2023).
Please join us for this online event to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Program through this gathering of esteemed authors and alumni whose words will empower and inspire.