What do Eliza Clark, Michael Redhill, Jason Sherman, Joseph Boyden and Nino Ricci have in common? They are all York grads that have been shortlisted for, or have won, some of the largest literary prizes going, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award and the Chalmers Award for Drama.
|Above: The winners of the President’s Creative Writing Awards with Professor Rishma Dunlop (far left), coordinator of the Creative Writing Program, and President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri (far right)|
There are many more high profile writers that have come out of York, but last week it was York students who were being honoured for their writing at the President’s Creative Writing Awards.
“At York University, we are really very fortunate to have so many gifted leaders on our campuses, including a phenomenal creative community,” said President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “We are a University that is committed to supporting and enhancing creative excellence, and as a result, attract talented and passionate students, who are engaged in exceptional programs, taught by the leading thinkers, writers and professors.”
|Above: Highlights of the President’s Creative Writing Awards reception ceremony. Video by Brian Chen, a television broadcast student at Seneca@YORK, as well as a history student at York.|
Rishma Dunlop, coordinator of the Creative Writing Program, said, “It’s always so nice to see students and faculty gathered together to celebrate the accomplishments of our creative writing students.” Deciding on the winners, however, is no easy matter. “We spend hours doing adjudication, and this includes debate and argument and discussion.” But that is also telling of the quality of writing – poetry, fiction, stage play and screenplay – that is being produced by students at York.
As Shoukri said, “One cannot ever forget the students and the young talent that’s evolving.”
And it was those students with their evolving talent that were being recognized at the President’s Creative Writing Awards ceremony, and where the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English also handed out several awards.
Here are the winners of the 2010 President’s Creative Writing Awards:
Screenplay winner: Vincent Pun for his screenplay EXODUS.
Left: Film Professor Marie Rickard (left), Vincent Pun, Shoukri and Dunlop
“Vincent Pun tells a wonderful story about the application of cryogenics on a spaceship called the USS Exodus, travelling through the ectoplasmic wilderness of outer space,” said film Professor Marie Rickard, who judged this year’s submissions along with award-winning screenplay writer David Sobelman (BA ’76). They praised Pun for his “highly creative use of cinematic timeline that is sharply drawn around his science fiction premise.”
Fiction winner: Mark Manner for “A Bit Maybe, but Probably Not”.
Right: Dunlop (left), Mark Manner and Shoukri
The fiction category was judged by Jennifer Duncan and English Professor Michael Helm, both of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. They called the story a “sometimes dark, often funny” story. It is the “tightly-controlled account of a 15-year-old boy trying to understand his compulsions and those of a girl he meets and comes to believe he loves. The writing throughout finds the truest of human moments again and again.”
Poetry winner: Canisia Lubrin for “Memories Are Like Deathbed Psalms”.
Left: From left, English Professor Priscila Uppal, Canisia Lubrin, Jane Oczkowski, Danica Fogarty, Shoukri, Dunlop and Blair Beauchesne
Honourable mention: Jane Oczkowski for “She Flew on the Back of a Bird”.
Honourable mention: Danica Fogarty for “Nourishment”.
Honourable mention: Blair Beauchesne for “Carbon-Based”.
The poetry category was judged by York education and English Professor Rishma Dunlop and English professors David Goldstein and Priscila Uppal. Uppal said “Memories Are Like Deathbed Psalms” won for its “maturity of vision” and “ambition”, and its “sense of roots, place, ancestral and personal history, its depth of thought and emotion, and its sense of elegiac lyrical music.”
Stage play winners: Robbie Woods for Painting Kayla and Lisa Aikman for The Mystery of Mr. Brady.
Right: From left, Rob Fothergill, English Professor Patricia Keeney, Lisa Aikman, Shoukri, Robbie Woods and Dunlop
“It’s a delight to have two winners this year. An excess of riches,” said English Professor Patricia Keeney, who judged the category along with theatre Professor Rob Fothergill. “Rob and I very much enjoyed debating over these two plays and agreed they’re both very deserving of first prize.
The Mystery of Mr. Brady is the story of Anne in her own words. Keeney said, “The play locates us inside the head of this sparky, imaginative, vulnerable young girl who, venturing out of her tree house hide-away, finds a dead body.” She calls it both a mystery-thriller and coming-of-age story, which is tense with family problems and develops an authenticity of voice and richness of detail.
Fothergill pointed out that Woods won in the same category last year. “Painting Kayla is an elaborately conceived cantata for five voices, apparently testifying at an invisible inquiry into the suicide of a 14-year-old girl,” he said, calling it powerful and perturbing.
Left: Jack Howstrawser (left) and Shoukri
The following awards were presented by York’s Creative Writing Program in the Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies:
Stanley Fefferman Prize winner: Jack Howstrawser.
The Stanley Fefferman Prize is awarded for the best all-round achievement in the second-year Introduction to Creative Writing course, and for the best original portfolio of coursework.
Babs Burggraf Award in Creative Writing winner: Patrick Plestid for his story “Half-Life”.
Right: Dunlop (left), English Professor Michael Helm, Patrick Plestid and Shoukri
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.
Judith Eve Gewurtz Memorial Poetry Award winner: Sandrinie Rodrigo.
Honourable mention: Ekraz Singh.
Left: From left, Dunlop, Margo Swiss of the Department of English, Sandrinie Rodrigo, Michelle Gewurtz, Ekraz Singh and Shoukri
The Judith Eve Gewurtz Memorial Poetry Award was established by York humanities Professor Margo Gewurtz in memory of her daughter Judith and presented by her other daughter Michelle 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.
Sorbara Award in Creative Writing winners: Danica Fogarty and John Nyman.
Right: Dunlop (left), Danica Fogarty, John Nyman and Shoukri
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.
bpNichol Award winner: Mike Dineen.
Left: Dunlop (left), Mike Dineen and Shoukri
The bpNichol 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.
Sylvia Ellen Hersch Memorial Award winner: Canisia Lubrin and Chad Campbell.
Right: From left, Randi Kwinta and Maxine Dinoff of the Hersch family, Dunlop, Canisia Lubrin, Chad Campbell and Shoukri
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.