Creative Writing

creative writing image


The Creative Writing program at the University of Ottawa not only offers access to some of the most successful writers in Canada through our Writer-in-Residence program, but also provides students with the opportunity to hone their writing skills in workshops and seminars, and to join a creative and supportive community of writers. Creative Writing courses are open to anyone who submits a portfolio of their writing; you do not have to be enrolled as a student at the University of Ottawa.

Students enrolled in the Fall 2018 term may take ENG 3164, Section A, short fiction and poetry. However, they can apply for and take other sections if they meet the criteria and wish to take courses in the Winter term. Students who complete Section A will automatically be considered for Section B, fantasy fiction, offered in the Winter 2018 term as a continuation of the Fall Creative Writing offerings. Section C, graphic novel/comic book, will also be offered in the Winter 2018 term. In addition, you will have the option to repeat any creative course for credit, with different content, up to three times.

While enrolled in this program, you can ...

  • Take a range of 3-credit advanced workshops that enable students to build a portfolio of work and explore the range of venues for publication.
  • Learn how to write within different modes and genres, from poetry to essays, and from realism to science fiction.
  • Collaborate with well-known Canadian writers through our Writer-in-Residence program, where authors such as Madeline Thien, Erin Mouré, and Andre Alexis offer structured hours to work with students, offering unparalleled support and advice.
  • Participate in a lively community of writers and poets through events, such as Friday Circle and other poetry readings.
  • Get involved with the Ottawa Arts Review (OAR), University of Ottawa’s literary and visual art journal.


Seymour Mayne

Seymour Mayne

“Creative writing seminars are meant to keep the pilot light flickering with energy and promise in each apprentice writer.  The courses offer students the opportunity to sustain the joy and fulfillment of writing while they pursue regular degree programs."

Seymour Mayne is author, editor, or translator of more than seventy books and monographs, including anthologies and critical texts. He is the founder of Bywords and the poster magazine Graffito. He has been published in over nine languages and has won several prestigious awards for his works, including the J.I Segal Award (2010) and the Canadian Jewish Book Award in 2007, 2000, 1997, and 1994.




Gerald Lynch

Gerald Lynch

"The creative-writing seminar provides students with the space and time to develop their own poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. It does so within an environment of mutual criticism/appreciation, rigorous analytical thinking, and disciplined writing—all under the direction of experienced published writers."


Gerald Lynch, winner of the gold award for short fiction in Canada’s National Magazine Awards, is the author of novels such as Missing Children (2015) and Exotic Dancers (2001) and has published numerous short stories and essays. His new novel, Omphalos, is forthcoming in 2017.




Amal El-Mohtar

Amal El-Mohtar

“Writing creatively is so often a lonely enterprise; my hope is always that the workshop environment will be a positive, supportive one that will give students the tools they need to examine their own work critically without just abandoning it in despair if there’s room for improvement.”


Amal El-Mohtar is an award-winning writer of prose, poetry, and criticism. Her articles and reviews have appeared in the LA Times, NPR Books and on and her short stories has appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex, and Shimmer. Most recently, she has nominated for a Nebula Award for her short story, “Seasons of Glass and Iron.”





Student Testimonials

Lindsay Foran


"Creative writing is a necessary part of the university experience. Anyone who has wanted to write should try at least one class. Working with others will help you develop a stronger voice, and the ability to edit your own work. You can’t write in a bubble. A workshop allows you to share your work in a safe place, and throughout the year, you will have the chance to rewrite and shape your story or poem so that it becomes publishable.”

Lindsay Foran is full-time writer, and has published many short stories and poems over the years. She is currently finishing her first novel.





Maria Scala


“I enrolled in my first Creative Writing course at UOttawa without any prior knowledge of the program or of the faculty. That first poetry workshop, with Professor Seymour Mayne, was a formative experience, and shaped the direction I took, not only as a student of English, but also as a burgeoning writer. Twenty years on, these skills continue to serve me well as a writer and as an editor."


Maria Scala’s poetry and nonfiction have appeared in numerous print and online literary journals, as well as anthologies that focus on the Italo-Canadian experience.



Maximilian Monkhouse


“Seymour Mayne, my creative writing professor, helped with my writing. His style of teaching: encouraging students to find their own method and voice was particularly effective. It was a supportive environment, and remained challenging. The critiques and suggestions we received in class, especially from Professor Mayne, were helpful in improving our writing."


Maximilian Monkhouse still writes and is an active participant in Ottawa’s literary community.




For more information on our undergraduate program in Creative Writing, consult the English Department Course Descriptions page or the programs of study page. You can also contact Seymour Mayne, the Coordinator of the Creative Writing Department, Robert Stacey, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, or Véronique Paquette, Academic Assistant (undergraduate studies).

How to Apply/Register



Register Now—Courses Fill Up Quickly

As preliminary to registration, applicants must submit a hard copy portfolio of their writing to the Creative Writing Department of English, University of Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5. Translated literary work from other languages will also be considered. Students will be selected solely on the basis of aptitude as indicated by work submitted.

Starting May 1, portfolios will be accepted and considered for admission until the courses are full. Students, however, are encouraged to submit their portfolios before July 29, as courses tend to fill up quickly. Students will be notified of their acceptance no later than three weeks before the beginning of term. As acceptance is not guaranteed, students submitting portfolios are advised to register for an extra course to ensure against being left short of credits in case of non-acceptance.


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