Department of English

DEPARTMENT OF

English Language and Literature

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Creative Writing

 

The Department of English offers a variety of courses in creative writing, as well as occasional special events and one-on-one mentorship with a visiting Writer in Residence, and an annual series of readings with writers from across Canada.

Creative writing courses may count toward all English Plans, but you do not have to be registered in an English Plan to take these courses. Because our creative writing courses take an intensive workshop approach, they are limited-enrolment courses. Admission to some courses is by permission of the department, based on an assessment of a portfolio of samples of your creative work.

 

Course Descriptions

Creative Writing Course Descriptions 2021-22

 

CWRI 271 001/3.0 Writing the City

Term: fall

Instructor: Laura Murray

Description: Millions of stories begin with arrival in a city, full of trepidation or hope or maybe both. Millions of other stories position readers as the new arrivals, offering us a virtual urban experience as we navigate characters and spaces, dangers and pleasures. Across literary genres and periods, the city is not just a setting, but also one of the most ubiquitous characters, with streets—arteries—pulsing with life-blood. Cities are thrilling. Cities are deadening. They serve as emblems both of collective potential and collective crisis. All in all, then, the choices are endless for literary texts for us to read in this course, and I am confident that even the most rural of you will have lots to write about on the subject. Over the term, we will read a range of texts including journalism, songs, comics, and blogs, recent literature by writers such as Alicia Elliott and Bryan Washington, and classic literature by writers such as Italo Calvino, Gwendolyn Brooks, Virginia Woolf, and William Wordsworth. We will read with a view to developing our own voices, perspectives, and styles as writers in a range of genres. Throughout the term students will undertake many short critical and creative exercises to be shared and workshopped in class; at the end of the course each student will undertake a more substantial writing project in a medium or genre of their choice.  

Requirements: Attendance & participation, short critical responses and creative experiments, final project.

 

CWRI 272 001/3.0 Writing Memoir

Term: winter

Instructor: Robert May

Description: Why does one Toronto professor leave money in random places throughout the streets of Athens? How does an everyday trip to an Eaton’s department store empower a Vancouver man to come to terms with the death of his best friend? What do the police want to question one young woman about when she wakes up outside a military dormitory on her nineteenth birthday? Why does a nattily dressed stranger on his bicycle suddenly shout out to no one in particular the word “Yes!”? CWRI 277/3.0 is a study of the memoir, one of the most popular creative non-fiction subgenres. Through a reading of representative works of Canadian memoir (drawn from Luanne Armstrong and Zoë Landale’s Slice Me Some Truth anthology) and an examination of one of the best known manuals on writing creative non-fiction and memoir (Lee Gutkind’s You Can’t Make This Stuff Up), students will learn memoirists’ techniques such as balancing objective and subjective truth, performing research and immersion, developing compelling scenes, composing effective “hooks,” generating believable dialogue, and more. We will study a diversity of Canadian memoirists, including Fiona Timwei Lam, Shelley A. Leedahl, Myrna Kostash, Wayne Grady, Evelyn Lau, Mark Kingwell, and others. As a final project, students will compose their own work of memoir for publication in a collected class anthology.

*We will answer these and other questions when we study Susan Glickman’s “Found Money,” Stephen Osborne’s “The Man Who Stole Christmas,” Ayelet Tsabari’s “You and What Army,” and Jane Silcott’s “Natty Man”!

Requirements: Evaluation methods include Quizzes, online Discussion Forums, Class Participation, and a final Writing Project completed in stages.

 

CWRI 295 001/3.0 Creative Writing I    (FULL)

Term: fall

Instructor: Juliane Okot Bitek

Description: This course focuses on writing short fiction and poetry that “imagines otherwise”, as scholar Christina Sharpe invokes us to do. Attending to the location and context of writers and poets at work, this course will expand the practice of, and the study of creative writing and reading as a way of being in the world in general, and here specifically. Through guided writing prompts, group seminars and workshop exercises, students will learn how to receive and provide generative and respectful feedback of each other’s writing as a way of being in community. Students will write weekly reflections, creative responses and multiple revisions of their own work. By the end of this course, students will have learned different writing techniques and approaches, participated in weekly writing workshops and seminars, read and responded to contemporary works of short fiction and poetry, both their own and that of their fellow writers and poets.

Note: Please come to the first class having read Dionne Brand’s Toronto Star essay: “On narrative, reckoning and the calculus of living and dying”.

Prerequisite: Permission of the department. Admission is based on writing samples. Email your student number and a non-rhyming poem or short story, to EnglishDept@queensu.ca. Be sure to identify the course for which you are applying in your email. Early submission is encouraged. The instructor will be accepting submissions until the course is filled. Successful applicants will be notified by the instructor.

 

CWRI 295 700/3.0 Creative Writing I  (ASO)  APPLY NOW!

Term: winter

Instructor: TBA

Description: This online creative writing course is an introduction to the art of composing fiction and poetry. Students submit independent creative work to the instructor and to their classmates for feedback and read and respond to their classmates' writing. All writings and course materials are shared electronically via website and email. The course is designed to help students write regularly and to enjoy writing. By sharing work in progress, students learn from and support one another and develop critical judgment. They also practice computer and internet skills and become comfortable working online.

This is a limited-enrolment courses for which students may not pre-register. Admission is by permission of the Department based on assessment of writing samples. Early submission is encouraged.

The online postings of student writing will be the primary texts for this course.

Prerequisite: Permission of the department. Admission is based on writing samples. Email your student number and a non-rhyming poem or short story, to EnglishDept@queensu.ca. Be sure to identify the course for which you are applying in your email. Early submission is encouraged. The instructor will be accepting submissions until the course is filled. Successful applicants will be notified by the instructor.

 

CWRI 393 001/3.0 Intermediate Writing in Prose  

Term: fall

Instructor: Helen Humphries

Description: A workshop course focusing on the writing and editing of short fiction, novels, and memoir. Students attempt several different approaches to the writing of creative prose, as well as the process of publication in both magazine and book formats.

Prerequisite: CWRI 295 and permission of the department. Admission is based on writing samples. Email your student number and a non-rhyming poem or short story, to EnglishDept@queensu.ca. Be sure to identify the course for which you are applying in your email. Early submission is encouraged. The instructor will be accepting submissions until the course is filled. Successful applicants will be notified by the instructor.

 

CWRI 393 001/3.0 Intermediate Writing in Prose

Term: winter

Instructor: Juliane Okot Bitek

Description: A workshop course focusing on the writing and editing of short fiction, novels, and memoir. Students attempt several different approaches to the writing of creative prose, as well as the process of publication in both magazine and book formats.

Prerequisite: CWRI 295 and permission of the department. Admission is based on writing samples. Email your student number and a non-rhyming poem or short story, to EnglishDept@queensu.ca. Be sure to identify the course for which you are applying in your email. Early submission is encouraged. The instructor will be accepting submissions until the course is filled. Successful applicants will be notified by the instructor.

 

CWRI 394 001/3.0 Intermediate Writing in Poetry – poetry and culture

Term: winter

Instructor: Armand Garnet Ruffo

Description: Three Hour Workshop. This course offers students the opportunity to write, read, and workshop their own original poetry. It will draw upon the work of a wide range of acclaimed poets from a variety of cultures to open possibilities for emerging poets to explore.  Students will be encouraged to think critically about their poetry and accordingly will be asked to write a short analytical “frame” for each poem, considering “how the poem works”. Because of the workshop structure of the course, it is essential that all students attend class regularly and participate fully.  Students will leave the course with the “tools” to write publishable poems.  (Each student will be asked to bring one book of poetry by a contemporary award-winning poet to class.)

Prerequisite: Permission of the Instructor. Students should have taken at least one other CWRI course.  Email five poems in a variety of themes and styles to the instructor (armand.ruffo@queensu.ca).  Make sure to identify the course number.  The instructor will be accepting submissions until the course is filled. Successful applicants will be notified by the instructor.

 

CWRI 397 001/3.0 The Literary Screenplay – adaptation

Term: fall

Instructor: Armand Garnet Ruffo

Description: Three Hour Workshop.  This course offers students an opportunity to learn the craft of writing for dramatic film.  It is intended for the motivated student who has some prior knowledge of working in film or writing fiction. The class will be structured as both an academic seminar and a writing workshop.  Students will analyse the process of adapting fiction to film while working on a literary adaptation.  Hence, students will select one literary work of fiction to adapt throughout the course.  Because of the seminar and workshop structure of the course, it is essential that all students attend class regularly and participate fully. Students will leave the course with a solid foundation for writing their own original screenplay.

Prerequisite: CWRI 295 or permission of the Instructor.  Students should have taken at least one other CWRI course. For students who have not already taken CWRI 295, email a short story, a short film, a short stage play, or up to five prose poems to the instructor (armand.ruffo@queensu.ca) for permission to enrol. Make sure to identify the course number. The instructor will be accepting submissions until the course is filled. Successful applicants will be notified by the instructor.

 

Instructors

Photo: Okot BitekJuliane Okot Bitek is a poet-scholar whose 100 Days, a collection of poetry on how to remember the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, won the 2017 Glenna Luschie Prize for African Poetry and the 2017 INDIEFAB Book of the Year (Poetry) award. It was also nominated for several writing prizes. Juliane's most recent writings include: "What Choices between Nightmares: Intersecting Local, Global and Intimate Stories of Pain in Peacebuilding" Peacebuilding and the Arts (Palgrave/MacMillan, 2020); "Conversations at the Crossroads: Indigenous and Black Writers Talk" Ariel: A Review of International English Literature (2020) and "Treachery as Colonial Intent: A Poetic Response Critical African Studies (2021).

 


 

Photo: Helen HumphriesHelen Humphreys is the award-winning author of four books of poetry, five works of creative non-fiction, and nine novels. Her work has been published internationally and optioned for film, stage, TV, and opera. Her latest book is the novel, Rabbit Foot Bill. She lives and works in Kingston, Ontario.

 

 

 


 

Photo: Armand RuffoArmand Garnet Ruffo is the recipient of a Honourary Life Membership Award from the League of Canadian Poets.  In 2020, he was awarded the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize in recognition of his work. His publications include Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird (2014) and Treaty# (2019), both finalists for Governor General’s Literary Awards.  He is a member of the Chapleau (Fox Lake) Cree First Nation.