Getting Back to Business

The entrance to Canada's Parliament Hill in Ot...

The entrance to Canada’s Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After several years of posting regularly about literary events in and around Ottawa, it was time to take a break. The news was to be taken over by another writer, but things happen. So, a bit later this month, you’ll start to see those posts again right here. Every two weeks, starting around the 18th of August.


To get into the habit again, I thought I’d post something I wrote awhile ago to help a fellow poet with some ideas on where and how to find a mentor.  Public Library in Provincetown, Massachusetts

Most of the links are for Canadian sites, but there are two from the U.S. One is the University of Wisconsin, the other the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA.

Here’s what I wrote to her about my own experience:

First of all I took some day workshops, then online via community colleges in Ontario (Algonquin College) then one through Stanford in 2010 that was 10 weeks long, combining writing prompts, online chats, feedback both from the instructor and other students.

That was how I connected with Canadian-American poet, James Arthur, who in 2012 invited several of his former students to a writing workshop in Lenox Mass. This took place again in 2014, although I was not able to attend for the second one. You can read some of James’ work at the Poetry Foundation, here:

treereadingserieslogoThen there is the Ottawa poetry series, Tree Reading Series, which has brought well-known Canadian poets to the area for master workshops on three occasions. That is where I was able to work with Roo Borson, Barry Dempster and John Barton.  These were two- or three-day weekends, absolutely amazing intensives with three wonderful mentors. Tree also features short, free workshops before each of their readings events, which take place the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, except for July and August. (And only once in December.)

The third method is to find a poet who offers mentoring/editing services. Through my Canadian Authors Association membership, I was able to take advantage of discounted rates to work with Bernice Lever and Harold Rhenisch, each for several poems.

In 2013, I asked Stuart Ross to mentor me. He offers services by the session, or five sessions for a discounted price. I sent him the last batch of poems this June for review. He reads and comments on the poems, offers editing suggestions, poets I should read, poets my work reminds him of, what he likes in my poems, what doesn’t work, and places to consider submitting. This happens in a one and a half to two hour phone call. He also has a short “Poetry Bootcamp” workshop that travels to different locations and well worth taking. Stuart blogs here:

So, the routes to mentoring that I’ve taken are via short workshop, paid mentoring, and longer courses.

If you want to do a one-on-one mentorship, check out this link at League of Canadian Poets:

There are a lot of courses online. Some are free. Some are not. There are some I’ve been considering over the last few years but haven’t yet taken the plunge.

U of Wisconsin has two, each $160, which is a good price. Here is the link to one, which also contains info on the other:

I’ve looked at the intensive workshops here at the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, esp. Carolyn Forché’s course :

English: Carolyn Forche, Miami Book Fair Inter...

English: Carolyn Forche, Miami Book Fair International, 1989 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a lot of good Canadian courses: shows a few of them.

AND AHA!  Here is a comprehensive list of schools offering writing courses, searchable by province:

There’s a link at the bottom of the page that will get you to Community College courses, also by province. Not sure if you have to re-search within that to get to writing courses or whether it retains the filter from your original search to find university ones.

I hope this gives you some idea about where you might want to start. And if you want more info, I am always happy to help out if I can. Leave a comment on the blog with your contact information.

Carol A. Stephen, August 13, 2014









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