Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I decided to pursue a graduate degree in Creative Writing because being given the dedicated time, space and mentorship that these two years can bring to my writing practice are unique to MFA programs. I don’t know when I’ll ever again be able to solely focus on writing a manuscript. However, I’m entering this degree knowing it’s not a necessary thing for being a writer. I’m entering knowing it wouldn’t be worth incurring debt to experience an MFA. The work of writing is slow and this kind of accelerated path to creating a book is a blessing but also not a requirement.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I only applied to UBC. I couldn’t justify upending my life with my partner and my cats for two years of schooling. I decided if I didn’t get in, I’d try again next year. But I was lucky! I just finished my undergraduate degree at UBC and so the familiarity of campus was and is comforting but the different expectations are exciting. My BFA didn’t require writing a thesis and I’m looking forward to trying new genres like screenwriting.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The School of Creative Writing’s quality of professors was the biggest draw for me. I look forward to taking classes with people like Billy-Ray Belcourt, Sheryda Warrener and Nalo Hopkinson. I also want the teaching experience TA’ing for undergraduate students can bring me. I want to ultimately teach creative writing at a post-secondary level and learning how to do so at UBC will be rigorous and rewarding.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
The best surprise about life in Vancouver was the vibrant writing communities I’ve gotten to become a part of as an emerging writer. Attending and participating in writing events has granted me extraordinary and deeply felt friendships. A lot of people say Vancouver is a hard place to make friends but I found friends through my passion for writing. When I first moved here, I often went to events alone but as I grew to know more and more familiar faces, suddenly I was a friend. Being a good friend is one of my most important values and so I’m glad I can enact it with the people I’ve grown to love in Vancouver.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
My biggest challenge in my future career will undoubtedly be financial. Writing is not a career that makes (most) people a living. I will have to persevere for the love of writing itself.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I think being connected to my communities has best prepared me for my graduate studies. No one can succeed in isolation and I rely on the support of everyone around me from my partner to my friends to my family to my peers and colleagues.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I love to relax with my friends! I need social time to really feel like myself. I discovered the extent of this need during the pandemic and now socializing is a very intentional experience for me. I also love watching TV with my partner and going for walks in my neighborhood. I love to smell a new flower! And while writing is my career, I also really enjoy it so I write for fun too. I have many pieces that will never be published because I’ve written them just for myself.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
I’m a new graduate student but I think I would tell my peers to make sure they talk to graduates of their program or people further along in their degree than themselves. I had spoken with graduates of the MFA before choosing to apply and that has helped me immensely.
Outside of your academic work, what are the ways that you engage with your local or global community? Are there projects in particular that you are proud of?
I was the managing editor of a magazine for Indigenous Queer, Trans and Two-Spirit people called Together Apart! I helped commission three issues featuring emerging Indigenous writers and artists. I learned so much about editing in my communities from that experience. I was also the January 2023 Indigenous Writer-In-Residence at Kwantlen Polytechnic University where I consulted with students, staff and faculty on their work, hosted events and started writing my second book. My first book of poetry “The All + Flesh” will be published with House of Anansi Press in Fall of 2023!