Friday, January 29, 2016

MFA Program in Creative Nonfiction is one of a kind in Canada


I've mentioned the low-res MFA program in Creative Nonfiction at King's College in Halifax? One of a kind in Canada? I serve as a mentor therein, so I may be biased. But I think it's spectacular. It may be cheating, since this is MY blog. But I'll cede the floor to my colleague Stephen Kimber, who does a superb job of summarizing recent fun and games . . .   
(Above: Alana Wilcox from Coach House Press talks to MFA students)
Students in the King’s College MFA in Creative Nonfiction program had a chance to meet, mingle with — and even pitch to — more than 30 of Canada’s top publishers, editors, agents and authors during this year’s Winter Publishing Residency in Toronto from January 17th to 23rd.
The annual publishing residency — which alternates between venues in Toronto and New York, North America’s publishing capitals — is a key component in the two-year limited residency program jointly offered by The University of King’s College and Dalhousie University. The program is the only one in Canada to focus exclusively on nonfiction.
Ben McNally of Toronto’s Ben McNally Bookstore meets with students.
Among the many highlights of this year’s Toronto residency: field trips to the Kobo Canada headquarters for a briefing on the evolving landscape of ebook publishing; to HarperCollins Canada where the publishing company’s nonfiction editors offered a panel on what they’re buying and why, followed by a mix-and-mingle reception; and to the Ben McNally Bookstore, where owner Ben McNally offered insights into the world of bookselling.
PenguinRandomHouse’s digital and social media staff conducted a special author-platform-building workshop specifically for MFA students, while senior staff at independent Canadian publishers Book Thug, Coach House Books, House of Anansi Press and ECW Press offered their insights into the business. Award-winning Canadian authors Lynn Thomson, Sylvia Hamilton, Stephen Brunt and Dean Jobb talked about their work and life. (Hamilton and Jobb are also members of King’s Journalism faculty.) And five of the country’s top literary agents were on hand to talk about their roles in the publishing process.
HarperCollins nonfiction editors discuss the latest trends in nonfiction books.
The week-long residency culminated with “Pitch Day,” during which each of the program’s 38 students got to practise-pitch their book-project-in-progress to two different Canadian editors or agents — and get constructive personal feedback.
The King’s MFA in Creative Nonfiction program — which one graduate described as “a combination MBA for writers and creative writing boot camp” — is currently accepting applications for admission for 2016-17. The semester begins in August with a two-week summer residency at the University of King’s College in Halifax.
This year’s residency will feature HarperCollins author-in-residence Charlotte Gray and PenguinRandomHouse editor-in-residence Diane Turbide.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Creative Nonfiction online? Through U of T? Still time to come aboard . . .

He's back! And this time (see photo) he's at the house of explorer Roald Amundsen, just outside Oslo. In response to a raucous clamor, the Dr. Jekyll in me has clawed his way onto your screen to announce an online course in Creative Nonfiction. It's called The Art of Fact: An Introduction to Writing Nonfiction, and it's available through the University of Toronto. We launch on January 25, 2016 . . . and quite a few folks have already come aboard from hither and yon. Just sayin'.  The particulars look something like this: "The hallmarks of Creative, Literary or Narrative Nonfiction are truth and personal presence. The genre includes subjective and objective streams, and encompasses memoir, autobiography, biography, history, adventure, travel, and true crime. The writer of nonfiction employs memory, imagination, analysis, and research, and adapts literary techniques from fiction, journalism, and the essay. This craft-oriented course aims to enhance your ability to tell true stories." You can find out more at the link above.  In the past, folks have "attended" from as far away as Japan and Uganda. Oh, and we do have a favourite text: Textbook: The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism, edited by Kevin Kerrane and Ben Yagoda. (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-684-84630-6).  Wherever you are, come on out. (Special welcome if you know who Amundsen is!)