York has produced many talented writers over the years – recent award winners Joseph Boyden and Nino Ricci among them– but it doesn’t ended there. New, up-and-coming writers are honing their skills at York and it was their turn Tuesday to reap a little of the attention at the annual President’s Creative Writing Awards reception.
Left: Rishma Dunlop (left), coordinator of the Creative Writing Program, with President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri; donor Margo Gewurtz; Denise Maxwell, winner of the Judith Eve Gewurtz Memorial Poetry Award; Chad Campbell, who received honorable mention for the Judith Eve Gewurtz Memorial Poetry Award; and donor Shalom Gewurtz
“These awards do much more than just celebrate creative writing, although that is their primary function; they also announce York to the world. They let people know about York University and what York University has in terms of talent,” President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri told the gathering. “Our writers not only give us a voice, they help us learn about ourselves, they help us understand the world around us.”
Right: Prose Fiction winner John Britt (left) with fellow student Jaime Vinderine
Shoukri acknowledged there was a lot of talent in the room, not only among the award winners, but among the guests as well. He congratulated the winners and thanked them for their hard work, determination and success as it is helping to build York’s reputation. The competition was open to all York students.
“While I can’t offer you any advice on how to write, I can offer some on the importance of working hard, on following your dreams and I hope the writing that has brought you so far will carry you to even greater heights in the future," he said.
Above: Rishma Dunlop (left); Julia Creet, chair of the Department of English, Faculty of Arts; Kilby Smith McGregor; Denise Maxwell; Michael Earnshaw; Zoe Alexis-Abrams; Alison Gadsby; Claire Kelly; Cameron Nord; Alex Nassar; John Britt; Chad Campbell; Michael Lyons; and Mamdouh Shoukri
Left: York English Professor Priscila Uppal (left); Kilby Smith-McGregor, winner of the President’s Creative Writing Prize for Poetry and the Sylvia Ellen Hersch Memorial Award; and Cameron Nord, winner of the bp nichol Award
Professor Rishma Dunlop, coordinator of the Creative Writing Program in York’s Department of English, Faculty of Arts, announced each of the winners for the various awards, including those for poetry, prose and playwriting.
Donor Margo Gewurtz was on hand to present the Judith Eve Gewurtz Memorial Poetry Award saying this year marked the 10th anniversary of her daughter Judith’s death. It is also the 40th anniversary of Gerwurtz’s time teaching at York. This year, as there were so many good pieces, it was especially difficult to pick a winner, said Gewurtz.
Here are the winners of the President’s Creative Writing Awards:
Winner: John Britt for his short story “In the Rye”.
Honorable mention: Alison Gadsby for her short story “Twirling and Spinning in Blue Chiffon” and Hanna Marku for her short story “Summer”.
Winner: Kilby Smith-McGregor for her poem “Amniotic”.
Honorable mention: Claire Kelly for her poem “Sun and Spoon”.
Winner: Michael Lyons for Ms. Rogers’ Gayborhood.
Honorable mention: Dan Smiley for Upper-Crust Sincerity.
bp nichol Award
Winner: Cameron Nord
Honorable mention: Alex Nassar
The bp nichol Award is named after the experimental poet who taught at York in the 1970s and early 1980s before his untimely death in 1988. The award is for a graduating student who has developed the most over the course of the program.
Sorbara Award in Creative Writing
Winner: Michael Earnshaw
The Sorbara Award is sponsored by Gregory and Kate Sorbara and their six children, all of whom have a strong dedication to the creative arts and music. Gregory Sorbara, a former Ontario finance minister, is a graduate of York’s Glendon College and Osgoode Hall Law School. This award was established to provide financial assistance to students with proven talent and commitment in the area of creative writing.
Judith Eve Gewurtz Memorial Poetry Award
Winner: Denise Maxwell for “Washer Woman of Half Way Tree”.
Honorable mention: Chad Campbell for “Preservation”.
This award was established and presented by York humanities Professor Margo Gewurtz in memory of her daughter Judith, honouring the best poem by a creative writing major who is completing their third year of study. This year’s presentation marked the 10th anniversary since Judith’s death and the 40th year since Margo Gewurtz first started teaching at York.
Sylvia Ellen Hersch Memorial Award
Winner: Kilby Smith-McGregor
The Sylvia Ellen Hersch Memorial Award was established in memory of Seymour Hersch’s late wife who graduated from York with a degree in creative writing. The award offers financial assistance to a fourth-year student majoring in creative writing with proven talent, achievement and commitment in the area of creative writing. Faculty members in the program nominate fourth-year students based on their academic work for the session.
Babs Burggraf Award in Creative Writing
Winner: Zoe Alexis-Abrams for “Story-Body Riddle”.
The Babs Burggraf Award in creative writing offers financial assistance to a fourth-year student majoring in creative writing with proven talent and achievement in the area of short story writing. Faculty members in the program nominate students who have submitted short stories as part of their academic work for the session.