Creative Writing minor to launch at SFU this fall

SFU community celebrates by virtually reading excerpts from their own creative writing works

Photo Courtesy of SFU Department of English

Written by: Paige Riding, News Writer

On the evening of May 25, around 50 attendees joined together over Zoom to celebrate the upcoming launch of SFU’s new creative writing minor. The program, available starting this fall, will eventually replace the Creative Writing Certificate previously offered by the English department.

David Coley, Associate Professor and Undergraduate/Associate Chair in the English department, spoke with The Peak over email about what the minor will entail and how it differs from the preceding certificate. As well as the change in the number of credits needed for completion and specific courses being required for the minor, Coley emphasized two defining differences from the certificate.

“The minor is significantly more streamlined and flexible than the certificate, meaning that students who don’t necessarily want to be English majors but do want to study Creative Writing can do so more easily.” Additionally, those in English programs can choose to take these creative writing courses as part of their major or minor.

While the certificate made studying creative writing outside of the English program possible, the courses and prerequisites, according to Coley made it “harder than it should have been”. 

Coley noted that the second difference from the certificate is “the introduction of the gateway course for the minor, English 272” The second-level required course titled “Creative Reading” will be the first second-level creative writing course at SFU. According to the professor, it will introduce the creative and critical model at the center of the Creative Writing program.

David Chariandy, Clint Burnham, and Steve Collis, SFU’s permanent creative writing faculty, will also be joined by visiting faculty member Carleigh Baker for the upcoming year. 

“Carleigh is a wonderful writer and a wonderful teacher, and we are extremely lucky to have her join us,” wrote Coley. “She will offer a different critical and pedagogical voice for our students, one that complements and augments our permanent creative writing faculty.

“Taken together, these faculty members are an extraordinary group. Our department and our students are fortunate to have gathered them all under one (currently virtual) roof.”

The faculty, along with some students and alumni, all read excerpts of their own creative writing during the soft launch. There were various poems and prose read aloud in the Zoom party. Chariandy presented a book prologue. Student Alyssa Bridgman presented poems written on an unconventional surface — leaves. 

“The model we’re pursuing is unique in that it focuses on the intersection of critical thought and creative practice. This creates a richer intellectual and practical working environment for our students,” Coley said.

When asked what he would say to anyone interested in the creative writing minor, Coley said such students should “take advantage of it while you have the opportunity. The new minor, the new gateway course, the brilliant addition of Carleigh as a visiting faculty member, the ongoing presence of our writer-in-residence program — there is a lot of energy in the creative writing program and in the English department as a whole.”