York University alumnus and celebrated author Nino Ricci (BA ’81) told students Wednesday at the President’s Creative Writing Awards reception that it’s probably the best time in the history of the planet to be a writer.
“Last I checked, Homer was still in print, Dante was still in print, Shakespeare is still hot…Jane Austen is still hot. There are more people reading books now, able to read books now and able to read books at a complex level than has ever been the case in the history of humankind. And there is more need now for writers, I think, than has ever been the case,” said Ricci.
Despite the complaint of writers for decades that the literary landscape was changing, that it was difficult to get published and overall a tough slog to be a writer, writing has persisted, he said. “…literature remains perhaps the one branch of knowledge…that is able to synthesize the complexity of human experience in a way that makes it meaningful for us and in a way that makes us understand that complexity. I don’t think it’s going to go away anytime soon.”
That’s good news for the students enrolled in York’s Creative Writing Program in the Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, many of whom were on hand to accept awards for their writing.
From left, Martin Singer, Mark Jordan Manner, Michael Helm and David Goldstein
“We don’t celebrate the accomplishments of our best performing students enough and that’s why I’m excited to see all of you here today,” said Martin Singer, dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.
Around a dozen students were honoured at the reception, for their writing in everything from poetry and stage play to screenplay and short fiction, through the Office of the President, the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and private donors.
From left, Martin Singer, Earl Oliveros, Rodrigo Herrera and David Goldstein
“Every year it amazes me what incredible students we have. I’m thrilled to play a role in the development of the next generation of Canadian writers, many of whom are in this room. Whether you realize it fully or not, your faculty do and are proud of you,” said David Goldstein, coordinator of the Creative Writing Program.
The following is the list of this year’s award-winning students:
- Winners: Rodrigo Herrera and Earl Oliveros, co-authors of Rituals.
- Judge: Film Professor Marie Rickard.
- Winner: Mark Jordan Manner for Cob.
- Judges: Theatre Professor Ian Garrett and English Professor Patricia Keeney.
- Winner: Matthew Walsh for Cloud Grape.
- Honourable mentions: Alex Millington and Shaina List.
- Judges: English Professors Priscila Uppal and David Goldstein.
- Winner: Mark Jordan Manner for Sir and Killer.
- Honourable mentions: Josh Edgar and Sara Flemington.
- Judges: Creative writing Professors Michael Helm and David Layton.
The following awards were presented by York’s Creative Writing Program in the Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies:
Winner: Dylan Wagman.
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.
Sorbara Award in Creative Writing
Winner: Magdalena Fedorov.
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: Daniel Kim.
The Judith Eve Gewurtz Memorial Poetry 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 completing his/her third year of study.
Sylvia Ellen Hersch Memorial Award
Winner: Ben Groh.
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
Winners: Mark Jordan Manner and Josh Edgar.
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.
Stanley Fefferman Prize
Winner: Jordan Girolametto-Prosen.
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.