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Creative Writing Postgraduate Students: Where Are They Now?

Melissa Lacroix, who gained a Distinction in September 2008 on the Distance Learning MA in Creative Writing, sent us the following news on 18 October 2010:

lacroixLast weekend I participated in the founding conference of the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (CCWWP) Association in Calgary and Banff, Alberta - it was a wonderful excuse to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in the mountains with a bunch of writers and writing instructors! On the 11th, I presented a paper entitled "Mind the Gap: A Canadian’s Experience in Lancaster University’s Distance Learning Writing Programme" as part of the Graduates in Creative Writing panel. It was paired well with a paper by Alain Beaulieu, the director of Creative Writing at Laval University in Quebec City, who outlined his university's programme.

There were also 2 presentations about training writing teachers in creative writing programmes as well as a paper on the history of the study of Creative Writing. There was a lively discussion about programmes and requirements after the presentations, and I think DLMA and Lancaster fit well into the discussion that focused on the Canadian context but that was nonetheless open and outward looking. The papers will be published in the Wascana review, a journal based out of the University of Regina (Saskatchewan).

Further to that, I also presented at the Association for Bibliotherapy and Applied Literatures (ABAL) during the national Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Montreal last June. My mother (PhD in English, professor at U of Saskatchewan) and I presented "Remembering Blanche: Intergenerational Narrative Therapy and Alzheimer’s Disease," a sixty minute panel that included my mother's reflection on reading with my grandmother who had Alzheimer's, and my reflections on writing about my grandmother and her struggle with the disease and her lost past. As part of my paper, I included a long poem and one of the stories that I included in my DLMA portfolio.

Several of the poems that I included in my portfolio in 2008 are forthcoming in an Edmonton-based literary magazine called Other Voices (it should be out this month), and another will be included in a Red Claw Press anthology in the spring.

A local editor has expressed great interest in the prose that I wrote during the DLMA, so I am revising and expanding the work into a bilingual novel. The same editor is currently reviewing my poetry manuscript about music, which includes revised versions of my portfolio poems. The manuscript has based the first round of reviews, and I am waiting to hear how the second round has gone.

I will also have two folk tales published in an anthology geared towards immigrant school children in the spring. I haven't been told the title yet, but I can pass that on once I know.

lacroix2Since December, I have been leading a bi-weekly writing group at a retirement residence. It has been a wonderful foray into facilitating. the group are very enthusiastic and have shown improvements and greater awareness of their writing. The group includes a 101 year old man who has an amazingly strong memory, an ESL senior who moved to Canada only 12 years ago - she particularly enjoys flexing her English language skills, and a WWII veteran who is visually impaired. They have taught me a lot about life!

In addition to this, I have been busy with my family. Pascal is 5 1/2 now. He is in school full-time now, but when he comes home he is filled with energy and great ideas that he wants to explore (i.e. making a submarine, writing and illustrating a counting book, making costumes, fixing things...). I have a 19 month old daughter now too. She's active and certainly keeps me busy!

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