MA CRW Alumni Biographies

(Attn: graduates please send updated bios and news to


Meghan Blythe Adams was born in Coral Harbor, Nunavut. She completed her B.A. in English at the University of Western Ontario in 2009. She completed her M.A. in English in the field of Creative Writing in 2011, under the supervision of Jane Urquhart. Currently, she is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Ontario, working on theories of the body and space in video games. Her work has appeared in Literary Mary and EnRoute, AirCanada’s in-flight magazine. She won the 2010 CBC Literary Prize in Short Fiction. She continues to polish Thieves of Dust, the manuscript written under Jane Urquhart’s guidance. She blogs about roller derby at



Graham Arnold is a graduate of the University of Toronto's MA in the Field of Creative Writing program and completed his mentorship thesis in 2009 with Michael Winter. He currently lives in Toronto where he teaches English as a Second Language. His work has appeared in The Malahat ReviewEcholocationEvent MagazineNinth LetterAsia Literary Review, and he has an upcoming story to be published in Glimmer Train. He has also been a finalist for Glimmer Train’s Open Short Fiction and Very Short Fiction contests, is the recipient of both a Pushcart nomination and an Ontario Arts Council grant, and has been a jury member for the OAC’s Writer’s Works in Progress Grant competition. He is now working on a collection of short stories about Japan as well as a novel set during the 1923 Tokyo earthquake.



Andrew Battershill is a novelist and editor. His first novel, Pillow, was longlisted for the Giller Prize and shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Award. His second novel, MarryBangKill, is scheduled for release in the Fall of 2018. He was the co-founder of Dragnet Magazine and is the Fiction Editor of This Magazine. He lives in British Columbia with his wife, the poet and essayist Suzannah Showler.


Laura Boudreau was born in Toronto, Canada. She first studied creative writing at the University of Western Ontario, where she earned a BA in English and Media, Information, and Technoculture. She went on to complete an MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing at the University of Toronto, where she worked under the mentorship of Michael Winter.

Her short stories have appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, including The Journey Prize Stories 22Canadian Notes & Queries, 10: Best Canadian StoriesThe New Quarterly, and The Fiddlehead. She is the winner of the 2009 PRISM International Award for Short Fiction. 



The Toronto Star called Kerry Clare "a fantastic, fun new novelist on the Canadian scene" in its review of her debut novel, Mitzi Bytes, which was published in March 2017. Kerry is also editor of the acclaimed essay collection, The M Word: Conversations About Motherhood (2014), and was shortlisted for a National Magazine Award in 2011 for her essay "Love is a Let-Down." She edits the Canadian books website and writes about books and reading at her own blog, She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children. 



Laura Clarke is the author of Decline of the Animal Kingdom (ECW, 2015), which was named one of the National Post’s 99 Best Books of 2015 and Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of 2015. You can find her poetry, criticism and other writing in The National PostHazlittPRISM InternationalRiddle FenceGrain and The Puritan. She is the 2013 winner of the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers from the Writers’ Trust of Canada and a 2018 writer-in-residence for the Al Purdy A-Frame Residency. She’s from Hamilton, Ontario and currently lives and writes in Toronto.


Jessica Druker is a writer from South Africa. Prior to coming to U of T in 2006, she received her BA in Dramatic Art from Johannesburg (University of the Witwatersrand). Her passion for South African stories, characters, and the tradition of oral storytelling and performance is prevalent in her fiction, which is primarily set in contemporary, post-apartheid South Africa. Jessica has a number of publications. Her short story, “The Broom Plant,” was selected for publication by Nobel Laureate, J. M. Coetzee, and appears in a S.A. Pen anthology, African Compass: New Writing from Southern Africa. Jessica is currently finishing a short story collection, and is half way through her first novel written under the guidance of her supervisor at U of T, Camilla Gibb. Jessica has a background in advertising, but is currently working for the coca-cola company in South Africa doing corporate communications.


Jonathan Garfinkel is the author of a book of poetry, Glass Psalms, and three plays, including House of Many Tongues, which has been produced in Germany and Canada. His Masters Thesis at U of T, Ambivalence: Crossing the Israel/Palestine Divide, was published in Canada, the UK and the US. His poetry has been published in journals across Canada and has been translated into Lithuanian, Spanish and Swedish. His play, The Trials of John Demjanjuk: A Holocaust Cabaret, was produced in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria and was published by Playwrights Canada Press (2006). Jonathan is currently a fellow at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Germany, where he is working on a novel. He is a frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail and Walrus magazine. 



Spencer Gordon is the author of the acclaimed short story collection Cosmo (Coach House Books, 2012), called “startling and invigorating” and “Canada’s Most Underrated Book” by Quill and Quire. This fall, Nightwood Editions will publish his debut collection of poetry, Cruise Missile Liberals. Spencer is also the author of the poetry chapbooks Anno Zombie Dance (Emergency Response Unit), Conservative Majority (Apt. 9) and Feel Good! Look Great! Have a Blast! (Ferno House, 2011, shortlisted for the 2012 bpNichol Chapbook Award. He is co-founder and a senior editor of the online literary magazine The Puritan, and his other writing has appeared in The Globe and Mailthe National Postthe Toronto StarEVENTTHIS MagazinePoetry Is DeadThe Winnipeg ReviewCNQ, and many other forums. He has taught writing across the city at OCAD University, George Brown College, Humber College, and with the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.


Chris Gilmore is the author of Nobodies, a short story collection. He graduated in 2014, and his writing has since appeared in McSweeney’sHobartThe New QuarterlyMatrix, and The Puritan. In 2017, he won the U of T Magazine Short Story Contest.


Alexandra Grigorescu is the author of Cauchemar (ECW Press, 2015). Her writing has previously been published in EcholocationActa Victoriana, and the Hart House Review. She lives in Toronto.


Helen Guri graduated from the University of Toronto's MA in Creative Writing program in 2008, where she worked under the mentorship of George Elliott Clarke. Immediately following her degree, she went on to participate in a writing residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Helen has published widely in Canadian literary journals, including The Antigonish ReviewGrainEventDescantRiddle Fence, and others. Her first book, Match, was published by Coach House press in 2011.


Liz Harmer , a 2015 grad, is publishing her debut novel, The Amateurs, with Knopf Canada in 2018 as part of the New Face of Fiction program. Her short stories and essays have been published in This MagazineThe New QuarterlyPRISMLiterary HubThe Malahat ReviewGrainLittle Brother, and elsewhere; her book reviews have been published in the Literary Review of CanadaThe Puritan, and The Globe and Mail. In 2014, she was nominated for two National Magazine Awards and won gold for Personal Essay. After a lifetime spent in Hamilton, Ontario and the surrounding area, she recently moved to Southern California with her young family.


Sandra Huber is currently working on a project of poetry in collaboration with the sleep laboratory at the Centre for Integrative Genomics in Lausanne, Switzerland ( She has published in various literary journals and read at festivals, including the Vienna Lit Fest and London Word. She was recently included in the forthcoming Ditch Anthology 4 "(innovative) (poets)" and her short story "Eels" was chosen by Dzanc Press as part of their Best of the Web Anthology 2008. Sandra has received funding from both SSHRC and the Toronto Arts Council, and has recently completed her first novel. Alongside writing, she spends her time curating an online journal of experimental literature, DearSir, which can be found at


James Irwin writes songs, poems, and stories. In 2017, he completed a novel draft as the thesis of the MACRW program. His writing has appeared in some magazines and books he won’t mention—either out of shame or out of an objection to the etiquette of literary bio resumé listing. James has released five albums as a songwriter, the most recent two, Unreal and Shabbytown, on Montreal label Sainte Cécile. More here:

Emily Izsak lives in London, Ontario with her boyfriend, who is completing a medical degree at Western University; however, she makes frequent trips back to her hometown of Thornhill, Ontario, where she used to live with her parents, two brothers, dog, two cats, and an uncertain number of snakes. Her work has been published in Arc Poetry MagazineThe PuritanHouse Organ, Cough, The Steel Chisel, The Doris, and The Hart House Review. In 2014, she was selected as PEN Canada’s New Voices Award nominee. Her chapbook, Stickup, was published in August 2015, and her first full length collection, Whistle Stops, was published by Signature Editions in April 2017.    
Kate Jenks is a Canadian poet who grew up in Orangeville, Ontario. She holds an MA in the Field of Creative Writing from the University of Toronto, where she completed a book-length poetry thesis entitled Weather Girl under the mentorship of Anne Michaels. Following her graduation from the program, she continued to refine her manuscript as a participant in the Banff Centre for the Arts' 2009 Writing Studio. In 2010 Kate returned to the University of Toronto to complete a B.Ed at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She currently resides with her husband in Seattle, WA, where she writes, cooks, and facilitates food writing workshops for young adults. Her work has appeared in Acta VictorianaThe Harthouse Review, Ecolocation and Room Magazine.    

Kasia Juno is originally from South Africa and emigrated to Canada at the age of 13. She graduated from Montreal's Concordia University with a BA in English and Creative Writing, and was a two-time recipient of the Irving Layton Award for Fiction. In 2009, Kasia received the Quebec Writer's Federation prize for short fiction, and her winning story, “The Fox”, was published in Maisonneuve Magazine. Two of her plays, Kite Maker’s Blues, and While You Were Sleeping, were performed at Concordia’s Black Box Theatre in 2009 and 2010 as part of the University’s annual theatre festival. Kasia completed her MA in English in the field of Creative Writing at the University of Toronto in 2011, under the mentorship of Anne Michaels. She is currently at work on a novel.


Lauren Kirshner:  A finalist for the 2010 City of Toronto Book Award, Lauren Kirshner was also named Best Emerging Author by NOW magazine in 2009. Her first novel, Where We Have to Go (M&S) has been translated into German and Dutch, with U.S. publication slated for Spring 2012. Lauren is a 2007 graduate of the University of Toronto Masters of Creative Writing Program, where she was mentored by Margaret Atwood. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry has appeared in ExileThe Hart House ReviewChatelaineTaddle CreekELLE CANADAThe Globe and Mail, and many other publications. Her creative non-fiction work "Twenty Poems for Claudia," about the maquiladora workers of Juarez, Mexico, appeared in the acclaimed paper documentary, I Live Here (Pantheon). In 2010 Lauren founded Sister Writes, a creative writing program for marginalized women in Toronto. She was appointed 2011-2012 Writer in Residence for the County of Brant Public Library and is at work on her second novel.


Elin Hellmark Kristoffersson (play a lighter note on the ‘E’, you’re almost there) is originally from Stockholm, Sweden. She received her BA in English and Politics from University College in Cork, Ireland, and she graduated from the MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing at University of Toronto in 2011. She has worked for 10TAL Magazine, Sweden’s leading literary magazine and has recently and somewhat reluctantly moved back to Stockholm, where she is rediscovering the Swedish language. She currently works as a freelance translator and tutors inner city kids. She hopes to complete her first novel, Sags like a Heavy Load, before the end of the year. The existence of this novel is in part due to her fantastic mentor, Susan Swan, the tallest modern woman of the world, with whom Elin worked during her time in Toronto.

Melissa Kuipers graduated from the MACRW program in 2010. She writes fiction and creative non-fiction. She has been published in literary journals such as The PuritanGrain MagazineOttawa Arts ReviewThe Rusty ToqueJoyland and Qwerty. Her first book, The Whole Beautiful World, is a collection of short stories published by Brindle and Glass.    
Sandra Lloyd received a BSc from U of T, a nursing diploma from Humber College, and later an MA in creative writing from U of T. She was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize, her poem appearing in the 2015 Global Anthology (Véhicule Press). Sandra's prose and poetry have appeared in publications including ArcThe Antigonish ReviewThe Windsor ReviewOther VoicesThe PuritanThe Rotary Dial, and Prism International. Ten of her poems were published in the anthology Evenings on Paisley Avenue: Seven Hamilton Poets. More at    
Brooke Lockyer graduated with a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University and penned rejection letters for Esquire’s literary department before pursuing her MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing at the University of Toronto. Her articles, reviews, and short stories have been published in Toronto LifeHouse & HomeSpacingThe Hart House Review, and She is the author of the fiction chapbook Moon Bones/Silver Tooth (Desert Pets Press, 2016). Brooke lives in Toronto. 

Matthew R. Loney returned from a three-year stint as an English teacher in Japan to participate in the Creative Writing program. His graduate thesis was a full-length work of fiction titled, The Tiger-Wolves Stop to Drink, written under the mentorship of the late Canadian novelist Paul Quarrington. He is currently at work on a collection of short-stories, That Savage Water, which is concerned with the politics of tourism in South-East Asia and the liminal moral and cultural spaces the traveler is forced to negotiate. Six of the stories from this collection have been published in Canadian and American literary journals and most recently in Delhi, India. "The Stampede" was anthologized in Clark-Nova's inaugural edition, Writing Without Direction: 10.5 Canadian Authors Under 30.

Samuel Martin received his MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing from the University of Toronto in 2008, where he worked on a manuscript of connected short stories under the mentorship of David Adams Richards. That collection was published as This Ramshackle Tabernacle by Breakwater Books in 2010 and went on to be shortlisted for the BMO Winterset Award and longlisted for the ReLit Award. Since the publication of TRT his short stories, essays, and reviews have been published in Canadian LiteratureQWERTYComment, ReliefRiddle Fence, and Image. Sam's first novel, A Blessed Snarl, is being released by Breakwater in May 2o12, during which time he will be serving as Fogo Island Arts' inaugural writer-in-residence at the Bridge Studio in Deep Bay, Newfoundland. He is currently the Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. And he runs the Dark Art Cafe blog at    

Kulsum Merchant received her MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing in 2007 and was awarded SSHRC funding during her studies. She also holds a degree in Communications from Concordia University. Kulsum worked in the Canadian book publishing industry for five years, primarily in the independent literary publishing community with ECW Press and the Literary Press Group of Canada, after which she returned to India, and became interim digital editor for GQ Magazine, and later, the head of external relations for McKinsey & Company in India. Presently, she resides in the United Kingdom, works in the professional services industry, writes for her own joy, and is currently completing a novella and a collection of short stories.


Edmund Martin Nolan is a poet, essayist and editor. He edits interviews at The Puritan, where he’s also published numerous essays, interviews and blog posts. He teaches in the Engineering Communication Program at The University of Toronto. Born and raised in Detroit, he attended Loyola University New Orleans and received his MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto. His essays and poems have appeared in ArcCNQ and CV2, among others. His long, illustrated poem about Donald Trump, “Great Again,” can be found here. His non-fiction writing focuses on literature, sports and music. His first book of poems, Still Point, was published with Invisible Publishing in 2017.

George Pakozdi was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, and now resides in Toronto with his wife. He completed the MA in English and Creative Writing in 2011, working under the mentorship of Ken Babstock. He is currently a law student at the University of Toronto. Several of George's poems appear in the anthology Undercurrents: New Voices in Canadian Poetry, ed. Robyn Sarah, published by Cormorant (2011). His work has also appeared in CV2.    
Michael Prior is a mixed-race writer of Japanese-Canadian descent. Named a 2016 Writer to Watch by the CBC, Michael's poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies across North America and the UK. He is a past winner of The Walrus Magazine's Poetry Prize, Grain's Short Grain Contest, Vallum's Poetry Prize, Magma Poetry's Editors' Prize, and Matrix Magazine's Lit POP Award for Poetry. Michael's first full-length collection, Model Disciple (Véhicule Press, 2016), entered its second print run a month after its release, was named one of the best books of 2016 by the CBC, and appeared on best-of-the-year lists from The League of Canadian Poets and The Walrus Magazine.    

Rebecca Rosenblum graduated from the MACRW program under the supervision of Leon Rooke in 2007. She is the author of two short-story collections, Once and The Big Dream, both from Biblioasis, and the novel So Much Love (McClelland & Stewart, 2017). Her work has been shortlisted for the Journey Prize, the Danuta Gleed Award, the National Magazine Award, and the Amazon First Novel Award. She lives in Toronto, where she works in publishing, writes, and sometimes sleeps. Her website is
Her website is

Jesse Ruddock is a Canadian-American writer. Her first novel, Shot-Blue (Coach House, 2017), was critically acclaimed; The New York Times says: "Ruddock writes moments of startling intimacy." The National Post called Shot-Blue "a serious and demanding book." Jesse has written for The New Yorker.comN+1BombVice, and other places. She is an online editor for the New York and Paris-based magazine Music and Literature.    

Annie Russell grew up in Portland, Oregon, and then moved to New York. She received her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University, and went on to work for a small design studio, a small magazine, and finally a small private school. In 2011, Annie completed her MA at the University of Toronto under the mentorship of Michael Redhill. Her story Heat the Woods appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Brick Magazine. She currently lives in Oregon, where she is writing a novel.

A former editor for echolocationJonathan Chan Simpson completed an editorial internship at the Walrus and now works in publishing in Toronto. Jon was mentored by Pasha Malla, whose fresh style and unique guidance helped make his experience a success. Jon's work has been featured in Ricepaper Magazine, and is currently supported by the Toronto Arts Council. His first novel, Chinkstar, was published by Coach House Books in 2015.    

Suzannah Showler is the author of the poetry collections Thing Is (McClelland & Stewart, 2017) and Failure to Thrive (ECW, 2014), a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award and named one of the best books of the year by the National Post. Her nonfiction has appeared in SlateBuzzfeed, The WalrusLos Angeles Review of Books, and HazlittRose Ceremony, a book of cultural criticism about The Bachelor, is forthcoming in Spring 2018. She is a 2017-18 Presidential Fellow at The Ohio State University. She and her husband, novelist Andrew Battershill, will soon live in British Columbia.


Andrew F. Sullivan is from Oshawa, Ontario. He is the author of the novel WASTE (Dzanc Books), named a Best Book of the Year by The Globe & MailThe WalrusCBC Books, and The Writers' Trust in 2016. His short story collection, All We Want is Everything (ARP Books), was shortlisted for the ReLit Award for Short Fiction and named a Best Book of the Year by The Globe & Mail in 2013. Sullivan's fiction and criticism haves appeared in the National PostHazlittTIFFThe Globe & MailThe New QuarterlyPRISMRiddle FenceLongform, and other publications. Sullivan now makes his home in Toronto.


Jess Taylor is a Toronto writer and poet. She founded The Emerging Writers Reading Series in 2012 and is the fiction editor of Little Brother Magazine. In 2015, her first collection of short stories, Pauls, was published by BookThug, and the title story from the collection, “Paul,” received the 2013 Gold Fiction National Magazine Award. She’s also released two chapbooks of poetry, And Then Everyone: Poems of the West End (Picture Window Press, 2014) and Never Stop (Anstruther Press, 2014). Jess is currently at work on a second collection, a novel, and continuation of her life poem, “Never Stop.”

Medeine Tribinevicius is a Canadian writer and translator of Lithuanian literature. She was born in Orillia, Ontario and grew up on Manitoulin Island. In 2006 she completed her MA in English at the University of Toronto while working under the mentorship of Lynn Crosbie. Medeine’s poetry and prose (in English) has been published in The WalrusRoom MagazineMisunderstandings Magazine and The Shore. She is currently finishing a novel. Her translations have been published in the PEN International MagazineThe Vilnius ReviewNine New Works of Prose from Lithuania: 2005-2006The Druskininkai Poetic Fall Almanac and in other publications. Current projects include co-translating e.e. cummings into Lithuanian with poet Benediktas Janusevicius, and translating Tula, a novel by Jurgis Kuncinas, into English.     
Daniel Scott Tysdal is the author of two books of poetry, The Mourner’s Book of Albums (Tightrope 2010) and Predicting the Next Big Advertising Breakthrough Using a Potentially Dangerous Method (Coteau 2006). Predicting received the ReLit Award for Poetry (2007) and the Anne Szumigalski Poetry Award (2006). His work has appeared in a number of literary journals and anthologies, and has earned him honourable mention at the National Magazine Awards (2003) and the Matrix Lit Pop Award (2010). He currently teaches creative writing and English literature at the University of Toronto Scarborough.    
Naya S. Valdellon graduated with a BFA in Creative Writing from the Ateneo de Manila University, and worked as a web content writer and editorial assistant before taking her MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing at the University of Toronto. Her first chapbook, Reluctant Firewalker, was published in 2005 by the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Her poetry has won the Maningning Miclat Award for Poetry, the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards, the Meritage Press Poetry Prize, and the Hart House Poetry Contest. Currently an Emerging Voice for Diaspora Dialogues, her work will be published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto Book 4. She is working on a manuscript entitled Open Letters    
Sarah Kathryn York is a dual citizen. She graduated from the University of Toronto’s Creative Writing Program in 2009, mentored by David Adams Richards. Her story collection, The Anatomy of Edouard Beaupré, was published by Coteau Books in 2012. Her short fiction has appeared in journals like Pisgah Review and The Danforth Review, with honourable mention from the University of New Orleans. She is completing her PhD at the University of Waterloo, where she recently won the Creative Writing Prize. Sarah also has an MA in English Literature and taught university-level courses in Appalachia. She lectures on her scholarship in “Freaks and Porn” throughout the U.S. She is currently co-authoring a biography of author B.M. Bower with Dr. Victoria Lamont. Her digital media artwork is on permanent display in galleries and at The Museum in Kitchener, Ontario. She divides her time between her hometown of Toronto and the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Her website is
Phoebe Wang is a writer and educator based in Toronto, Canada and a first-generation Chinese-Canadian. She graduated with a B.A. in Honours English at York University and an M.A. in English and Creative Writing at the University of Toronto. Her debut collection of poetry, Admission Requirements (McClelland and Stewart, 2017) was shortlisted for the Gerald Lambert Memorial Award, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and nominated for the Trillium Book Award. She has also been known as an editor, reviewer, interview, mentor, teacher, and community organizer. Currently she works as a Writing and Learning Consultant for ELL students at OCAD University, where she also facilitates The Mighty Pen, a writing group for BIPOC-identifying students.    
Lindsay Zier-Vogel is a writer, arts educator and bookmaker based in Toronto. After completing her MA in Creative Writing under the mentorship of Anne Michaels, Lindsay has been awarded various Canada Council and Toronto Arts Council grants. She is currently looking for a home for “Asphalt,” a novel about a girl with atypical vision and is working on her second novel-length manuscript, "The Opposite of Drowning." She has been awarded writing residencies in France and Nebraska. She is the founding editor of Puddle Press, an independent book arts press, and her work is held in the National Library and Archives of Canada. Lindsay teaches writing workshops in the school system and in community settings, and is also the creator of The Love Lettering Project, a one-of-a-kind community-based love letter art project. Currently in its seventh year, The Love Lettering Project was featured on CBC Television's "The National" and was deemed one of the 50 reasons to love Toronto by Toronto Life Magazine.
Visit her website at