Monday, May 14, 2012

Canada’s AWP – CCWWP Conference in Toronto

I had a great weekend in Toronto – my motherland! – not only attending and presenting at the CCWWP Conference, but also spending time and money in bookshops, eating my way around the city, and smelling memories around town (thank you, olfactory bulb and limbic system).

The CCWWP is all shiny and new. CCWWP is Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs and, like the granddaddy AWP, runs a year-round organization and what seems to likely be a biennial conference. The kickstarter conference occurred this year in Toronto on the campus of Humber College and was, quite frankly, a lovely and refreshing event to say the least.

AWP’s executive director, David Fenza, attended the weekend and provided the opening night keynote address to a warm crowd. It was fascinating to hear more about the history and development of AWP and how the CCWWP conference may learn from the golden standard.

I had the pleasure of presenting a panel alongside two low-res directors, Andrew Gray from UBC and Stephen Kimber from University of King’s College Halifax (their program launches 2013).  Our session, “The Low-Residency MFA: Coast to Coast and Across the Border,” provided an overview of the low-res model, the proliferation and breadth of programs, and a discussion on how such programs benefit students. With Canada’s geographic spread in population, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some serious growth in this area over the next few years.

Overall, the conference was great. It was nice to mix and mingle with some fellow Canucks and chat about books, reviews, culture, and writing like it’s nobody’s business. I look forward to attending the next CCWWP event.

Outside of the conference, one of my favorite activities of the weekend was picking up a much-needed stash of Canadian lit journals. I’m fortunate to cross the border from time to time to snag a few, but not nearly as many as I’d like to have on hand. So, this trip included stops in several Toronto bookshops that resulted in a nice selection, including the following:

Room Magazine    

Do check these journals out. Expose yourself to the Great White North! (Even if it is hot and humid there right now.)

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