Alumni Spotlight

We’d love to hear from you! If you are an Alumni or current student of the UBC Creative Writing program with something to share, we invite you to contact us with your news and successes. Send information to Andrew Gray


Congratulations to our MFA and alumni nominated for the BC Book Prizes!

Congratulations to our students and alumni! The West Coast Book Prize Society announced the finalists for the 2018 BC Book Prizes. The BC Book Prizes, established in 1985, celebrate the achievements of British Columbia writers and publishers.

The seven Prizes are presented annually at the Lieutenant Governor’s BC Book Prizes Gala in the spring, as well as a presentation to the winner of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.

The Prizes are administered and awarded by members of a non-profit society  who represent all facets of the publishing and writing community.

Winners will be announced on Friday, May 4, 2018



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Alumna focus: Francine Cunningham: ‘I walk around all day observing things and thinking about what ifs.’

Francine Cunningham is a Canadian Indigenous writer, artist and educator. Her creative non-fiction has appeared in The Malahat Review, the anthology Boobs: women explore what it means to have breasts (Caitlin Press), The Best Canadian Essays 2017 (TightRope Books), and more. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in The Puritan, Joyland Magazine, Echolocation Magazine, The Maynard and more. She is a graduate of the UBC Creative Writing MFA Program, a recent winner of The Hnatyshyn Foundation’s REVEAL Indigenous Art Award, and recipient of the 2017 Telus StoryHive webseries grant. You can find more info about her here. We spoke to Francine about what she has been up to since she graduated.

Continue reading “Alumna focus: Francine Cunningham: ‘I walk around all day observing things and thinking about what ifs.’”

MFA Alessandra Naccarato wins CBC Poetry Prize

Congratulations to our MFA Alessandra Naccarato who has won the CBC Poetry Prize for Postcards for my Sister. The CBC Literary Prizes have been recognizing Canadian writers since 1979. Allessandra’s poem was selected from more than 2,400 English-language submissions this year. She wins $6000 as well as a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

MFA Alumna Eden Robinson Wins $50,000 Writer’s Trust Fellowship

 MFA alumna Eden Robinson has won the third Writer’s Trust Fellowship, intended to free writers substantially from financial concerns and provide a window in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible. The Writers’ Trust Fellowship comes with an award of $50,000.

The unrestricted Fellowship is awarded to a writer who has demonstrated exceptional creative ability and outstanding promise in their publications to date. You can read about the details here.

Alumni Nominations for the International Dublin Literary Award Longlist

MFA alumni Anosh Irani and Katherena Vermette  as well as BFA alumna Jen Sookfong Lee have been nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award 2018. Anosh has been nominated for her book The ParcelKatherena for The Break and Jen for The ConjoinedAll books were previously nominated for other awards.

The International Dublin Literary award is the world’s most valuable annual literary prize. Writers are nominated by libraries in 37 countries. The winner of the Award will receive €100,000. Our alumni are 3 of the 14 Canadian writers who made the longlist this year.

The shortlist will be announced in April 2018. The prize will will be announced by the Lord Mayor on the 13th of June 2018.

Marcus Youssef wins Siminovitch Prize

Congratulations to Marcus Youssef, MFA alumnus, who is the winner of the 2017 $100,000 Siminovitch Prize, Canada’s richest and most prestigious theatre award. The award includes a protégé element: each year’s winner chooses another artist to receive $25,000 of the total prize. Marcus selected theatre artist Christine Quintana (UBC Theatre BFA alumna) to share in his award.

Youssef is best known for writing and cowriting Winners and Losers (one of Neworld’s longest-running and most successful pieces), King Arthur’s Night, Leftovers, How Has My Love Affected You?, Ali & Ali, Chloe’s Choice, Everyone, Adrift, Peter Panties, Jabber, and A Line in the Sand.

Marcus recently taught for UBC Creative Writing in the Summer of 2017 and we interviewed him for the CRWR website when he was nominated for the award.


‘Protect your voice’- An Interview with Carleigh Baker, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Nominee

Carleigh Baker is a Cree-Metis/ Icelandic writer who lives as a guest on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Her work has appeared in Best Canadian Essays, PRISM International, Matrix, and The Journey Prize Anthology. She also writes reviews for the Globe and Mail, the Literary Review of Canada, and the Malahat Review. Baker is an MFA candidate at the University of British Columbia, and the Vancouver editor at Joyland Magazine. Her debut story collection, Bad Endings (Anvil, 2017) won the 2017 City of Vancouver Book Award, and is a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Award.

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Alumna Oana Avasilichioaei Wins Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation

We congratulate alumna Oana Avasilichioaei for winning her first Governor General’s Literary Award in 2017 with her translation Readopolis (Lectodôme, by Bertrand Laverdure). You can read the details here.

The Prize recognizes Canada’s best English and French books in 7 categories: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Young People’s Literature – Text, Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books and Translation (from French to English and vice-versa).

Winners receive a $25,000 prize.

‘I like to get to the guts of my characters.’ – An interview with Eden Robinson, nominee for the Giller Fiction Prize 2017

Eden Robinson is a member of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations. Her novel Monkey Beach was nominated for The Giller Fiction Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. It received the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Her latest novel Son of a Trickster is also nominated for The Giller Fiction Prize. Eden is an alumna of the UBC Creative Writing MFA Program and we caught with her to speak about her the nomination, her novel, writing and her time at UBC.

Continue reading “‘I like to get to the guts of my characters.’ – An interview with Eden Robinson, nominee for the Giller Fiction Prize 2017”

More Awards and Nominations for UBC Creative Writing Students, Alumni and Faculty

Joanne Arnott

The literary awards season continues and we congratulate MFA alumni Marcus Youssef (Theatre) and Peg Campbell (Film and New Media) as well as new adjunct professor Joanne Arnott (Literary Arts), who were honoured at the Mayor’s Arts Awards last night. The annual Mayor’s Arts Awards recognize 20 established and emerging artists from a diversity of communities. The recipients receive $3000 each.

MFA Carleigh Baker has won the City of Vancouver Book Award. The annual City of Vancouver Book Award has been recognizing authors of excellence of any genre since 1989. These authors contribute to the appreciation and understanding of Vancouver’s history, unique character, or the achievements of its residents. The $3,000 prize is funded by the City’s Publishing Reserve, which was established in 1977 as a permanent legacy for Vancouver writers and publishers.

MFA alumna Oana Avasilichioaei was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award in the Translation category, French to English, for Readopolis. The winners will be announced on 1st of November 2017. The Governor General’s Literary Awards recognize great Canadian books. Winners receive a $25,000 prize.