M.A. In Creative Writing and Faculty Bios

M.A. with Concentration in Creative Writing: Thesis Option

The MA in Creative Writing (thesis option) is a non-terminal degree. This means that students can choose to pursue an additional, studio-based MFA in Creative Writing, or go on to a PhD in Creative Writing . After course work in both academic and creative writing seminars, students write a thesis in the genre of their choice (poetry, fiction, or creative non-fiction). Award-winning faculty offer small classes, personal supervision and professional training. An extra benefit to studying creative writing at the University of Regina is that students can participate in a vibrant local writing community that includes numerous reading series and programs offered by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, the oldest and most established writers' guild in Canada. The city of Regina offers several opportunities to present creative work, including writing series organized by the SWG and the Regina Public Library, literary events at Queen City Pride, and readings at the Cathedral Village Festival. Regina also has a thriving theatre community, with venues such as The Globe and The Artesian, as well as independent theatre collectives (Listen to Dis, Deaf Crows Collective), and poetry slam/open-mic nights around town.

The creative writing M.A. at the University of Regina offers students an opportunity to enrich their creative endeavours with scholarship. When asked why they’ve chosen to pursue their prospective writing career through academic channels, our students characteristically say, Because I want a critical and theoretical perspective on the literary field I’m entering as a writer. Because it gives structure to my work. Because I want to workshop my writing among peers who are formally knowledgeable about literature. Because I wouldn’t mind teaching a class like this workshop one day. Because I know that at the end of the degree, I will have a book-length manuscript in my hands.

One of the strengths of our M.A. program is its combination of creative and critical elements. While traditional MFA programs focus almost entirely on workshops, our program allows students to engage with creative and critical scholarship on writing. We also offer teaching experience in literature and composition through our T.A. program. In addition to attending workshops, receiving feedback, and commenting on the creative work of their peers, students will also read a mix of literature and criticism. They will learn to analyze writing in diverse forms, both as writers themselves, and as scholars. We offer the best of both worlds. Our aim is to give writers the training they need to position their own work within a genre tradition, and to engage with the history and practice of the writing they’re passionate about. By the end of the program, students will gain a variety of skills, including: editing, teaching, communication, research, strategies for submission, and analysis of their own creative work.

Students in the thesis-stream will take 5 graduate/honors courses, 2 of which must be in the creative writing concentration. Upon completion of course requirements, they will enrol in ENGL 901 [Thesis Project Proposal], and work on a creative thesis proposal with their graduate supervisor. Once this is approved, they will enrol in ENGL 902 and work on producing a manuscript. This period will last for a maximum of 5 semesters, after which they will submit their manuscript to a committee (this may include a mix of academic and creative writing faculty members). The final stage will be discussing their manuscript with an external writer.

M.A. with Concentration in Creative Writing: Project Option

This is similar to the thesis route, but with more of an emphasis on coursework. Students will enrol in 7 graduate-honours courses, 2 of which must be in the creative writing concentration. Students may also choose to take a course outside the Department of English (such as an offering through the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance, or a course in History). Upon completion of coursework, students will enrol in ENGL 901 and work on a creative project proposal with their graduate supervisor. Once this is approved, they will enrol in ENGL 902 and work on producing a shorter manuscript [30-50 pages]. In addition to their honors supervisor, another creative writing faculty member will examine their manuscript.

Note: Students who enrol in the full coursework stream [10 courses] may choose to take creative writing courses, but will not receive a creative writing concentration.



The department’s creative writing faculty currently includes Michael Trussler, Medrie Purdham, Jes Battis, Jean Hillabold, Jesse Archibald-Barber, Christian Riegel, and Melanie Schnell: novelists, short story writers, poets, playwrights, anthologists and editors. As creative writing instructors, they work to present innovative courses at the graduate level, on subjects like Worldbuilding, Writing the Lyric Self, Writing Fantasy, and Writing Fixed Form Poetry. Certain literature courses (like Michael Trussler’s graduate courses on Experimental Memoir and on Poetics: Theory and Practice) are designed to include interpretive options for both literature and creative writing students, who may respond to course texts creatively or critically.

Between them, faculty members combined experience in publishing across diverse genres, editing collections of creative work, reviewing books, staging plays, and delivering workshops on campus and beyond. They have been recognized with a number of important awards, including high honours in the CBC’s prestigious annual literary competition, multiple nominations and honours at the Saskatchewan Book Awards, work shortlisted for a Best Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy award, a host of journal awards at Arc, Grain, Vallum, Prairie Fire, The Antigonish Review, Contemporary Verse II and The New Quarterly, and inclusions in the Best Canadian Poetry yearbook, as well as publications in Best Erotica.

Faculty Bios

Jesse Archibald-Barber

Email: jbarber@firstnationsuniversity.ca

Creative Writing and Research

Jesse Archibald-Barber is from oskana kâ-asastêki. He teaches Indigenous Literatures in English at the First Nations University of Canada, specializing in Saskatchewan Indigenous literary history and early Indigenous literatures in Canada.

Selected Links to Published Works

Short Story: “Beneath the Starry Map.” Mitêwâcimowina: Indigenous Science Fiction and Speculative Storytelling. Ed. Neal Mcleod. Penticton: Theytus, 2016.

Short Story: “The Bowl Game.The Malahat Review: Elusive Boundaries: Mapping Creative Nonfiction in Canada. #193 (Winter 2015)

Poem: “pîsim pimâcihowin / The Sun Voyage” The Canadian Journal of Native Studies 38.1 (2018)

Performance Work:

Artistic Director and co-writer: Making Treaty 4. Canada 150 Performance, University Theatre, University of Regina, August 24, 2017.

Artistic Director and co-writer: Making Treaty 4. Student Performance, University Theatre, University of Regina, April 10, 2017.

Producer Assistant: From Up North. Director: Trudy Stewart. Red Jade Productions Inc., 2017. Film documentary.

Co-writer and performer: RIIS from the Ashes. Collective Performance Storytelling Ensemble. First Nations University of Canada, June 23, 2016.

Performer: Music Video for “I Remember” by InfoRed. Director: Brad Bellegarde. Aug. 2015.

Co-writer, director, performer, producer: TransActions: Memorial Dedication. Collective Performance Storytelling Ensemble. First Nations University, Sept. 17, 2015.

Co-writer and performer: TransActions. Collective Performance Storytelling Ensemble. Curtain Razors. Director: Michele Sereda. First Nations University, Oct. 4-5, 2014.

Director and Producer: Two Spirits. Writer: Dominga Robinson. University of Regina. April 2012.

Producer: Two Old Women. Writer: Yvette Nolan. Director: Jennifer Squires. University of Regina. April 2012.

Producer: Performance of Deanne Kasokeo’s Antigone. Writer Deanne Kasokeo. Director: Floyd Favel. First Nations University of Canada, 13 October 2011.

Edited Publications:

Editor: Kisiskâciwan: An Anthology of Saskatchewan Indigenous Literature. Regina: University of Regina Press, 2018.

Guest Editor: Grain: The Journal of Eclectic Writing 42.4 (2015).


Jes Battis (he/they)

Email: Jes.Battis@uregina.ca
Author site: www.jbattis.com 

Creative Writing and Research

Jes Battis specializes in teaching and writing genre fiction: fantasy, speculative fiction, horror, and procedural crime. They are the author of the Occult Special Investigator Series and Parallel Parks Series, both with Ace/Penguin. Night Child, the first novel in the OSI series, was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, and nominated for the Endeavour Award. Jes has published fantasy-themed work in Strange Horizons, and work on popular culture in the Los Angeles Review of Books. They’ve also published poetry in literary journals such as The Puritan, Poetry is Dead, Contemporary Verse 2, The Maynard, and The Capilano Review.

Selected Links to Published Works:


Imperfect Rhetorics: Neurodiversity in YA Literature and Popular Culture,” Los Angeles Review of Books.

Sleepover,” The Puritan Review.

Winter Skips,” Ghost City Review.

The Tribble,” CV2.


Jean Hillabold

Email: Jean.Hillabold@uregina.ca

Jean R. Hillabold (she/her) received a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Regina in 1989, and began teaching creative writing courses for the Faculty of Extension and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. She was hired to teach first-year literature and composition courses in the University of Regina in the 1990s, and has been an Instructor since the position was created in 1999.

Creative Writing and Research


Under her pen name, “Jean Roberta,” she has written erotic and fantasy fiction as well as reviews of erotica and LGBTQ literature in various genres. Her reviews appear regularly in The Gay & Lesbian Review, formerly published at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Editor: Dr. Richard Schneider.) glreview.org 

A compilation of 25 of her nonfiction essays about sex, Sex Is All Metaphors (title based on a line in a poem by Dylan Thomas) was released as an ebook in 2011 by the Coming Together project (eroticanthology.com). The essays appeared first as a monthly column on the website of the Erotic Readers and Writers Association. She still contributes to the blog of the association: http://www.erotica-readers.blogspot.com

She co-edited OutSpoken: Perspectives on Queer Identities with Dr. Wes Pearce (University of Regina Press 2013). This anthology is based on presentations given by the University of Regina Queer Initiative in previous years. (Her essay, “The Christian Martyr and the Pagan Witness in The Well of Loneliness” is included.)

Her article, “The Vampire Cult of Eternal Youth” appeared in The Vampire Goes to College: Essays on Teaching with the Undead, edited by Lisa A. Nevarez (North Carolina: McFarland 2014).

Over one hundred of her short stories have appeared in print anthologies, as well as several single-author publications from Lethe Press:

The Princess and the Outlaw: Tales of the Torrid Past (2013) plus The Flight of the Black Swan: A Bawdy Novella (historical fiction set in the 1860s, 2013, also in audio). Her local-colour erotic novel, Prairie Gothic: A Tale of the Old Millennium, is forthcoming from Lethe, and she is working on a sequel. She co-edited Heiresses of Russ 2015 (Lethe), an annual anthology of the year’s best lesbian speculative fiction, with publisher Steve Berman.(lethepressbooks.com)

Current Projects:

A sequel to Prairie Gothic, a collection of steampunk mystery stories featuring Miss Georgina Sherlock of Toronto as told by her companion, Jane Watson, and a collection of fantasy stories about witches.


Medrie Purdham

Email: Medrie.Purdham@uregina.ca

Creative Writing and Research

Medrie Purdham (B.A. Hon, M.A., University of Toronto; Ph.D., McGill University) is an Associate Professor in the Department of English specializing in Creative Writing, Canadian Literature, Poetry and Modern Drama. Her poetry has been widely published in journals, she has been three times anthologized in The Best Canadian Poetry in English (Tightrope), and her book Little Housewolf is forthcoming from Véhicule Press in April of 2021.

Publisher’s blurb:
Medrie Purdham's Little Housewolf delves deeply into the world of domestic miniatures, a realm where thimbles, baby teeth, push pins, keyholes, teacups, and wedding rings become meticulously realized scale models of one's terrors and joys. Purdham uses the fine-grained signatures of her poetry--close observation, exact detail, precise sounds--not only to examine childhood and its fascination with size and scale, but also to measure herself against the larger, untamed landscapes she feels increasingly alienated from ("It is all anachronism, / grasses vintage wild"). Marked by bold emotion and arresting imagery, Little Housewolf is a brilliant debut.

Little Housewolf cover design by David Drummond
Published by Véhicule Press
Author photo by Rae Graham


Writing Awards

Shortlisted, Arc Poem of the Year (“This is What Happens”) | 2019
2nd place, Arc Poem of the Year (“The Thimble’s Bucket List”) | 2019
Longlisted, Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize, The Fiddlehead | 2018
Longlisted, CBC, Canada Writes (Poetry) | 2016
Shortlisted, Far Horizons Poetry Award, The Malahat Review | 2016
City of Regina Writing Award | 2015
Honourable mention, Short Grain competition, Grain magazine | 2015
48-hour poetry competition, Contemporary Verse 2; 3rd place (Poetry) | 2015
48-hour poetry competition, Contemporary Verse 2; 3rd place (Poetry) | 2013
48-hour poetry competition, Contemporary Verse 2; 2nd place (Poetry) | 2012
Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, 1st place, Short Manuscript Award (Poetry) | 2009
2nd place, Short-Grain competition (Grain Magazine) (Poetry) | 2009
Longlisted for the CBC’s Canada Writes (Poetry) | 2006
The Peterson Memorial Prize in Creative Writing (McGill) | 2003


Christian Riegel
Email: Christian.Riegel@uregina.ca


Creative Writing and Research

Christian Riegel has published poetry in Gaspereau Review, Flood Quarterly, Cooweescoowee, White Wall Review, New Delta Review, and Grain, amongst others, and collaborates with cognitive psychologist Katherine M. Robinson in MDA (Mind/Data/Art) to create digital art from data streams generated by the mind. Their work has appeared on the cover of Body, Space & Technology Journal.


Melanie Schnell

Email: Melanie.Schnell@uregina.ca


Creative Writing and Research

Melanie Schnell has published long and short fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and has written for television. She has received awards for poetry, fiction, and her first novel, While the Sun is Above Us, which was listed as a part of the ELA A 30 curriculum for both public and Catholic schools across Saskatchewan. Her current novel-in-progress is a literary murder mystery set in Canada. Melanie teaches the following creative writing courses face-to-face and online: ENGL 152 (Introduction to Creative Writing), ENGL 252 (Creative Writing) and ENGL 352 (Creative Writing: Fiction). She created and developed ENGL 152, a new introductory creative writing course. Her current and upcoming supervision projects include theses in speculative fantasy and Y.A. literature.

Selected Links to Published Works:

While the Sun is Above Us, Freehand Books

Survival,” Grain Magazine


Michael Trussler

Email: Michael.Trussler@uregina.ca


MICHAEL TRUSSLER has published poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. His work chiefly engages with the Anthropocene, the Holocaust and Ekphrasis. His primary literary influences are John Ashbery, Don Coles and Jorie Graham. Much of his work could be described as a verbal equivalent of an Ed Kienholz installation; indeed, often his writing features his own photography, especially Polaroids. Ranging from from highly experimental poetry to realist short fiction, his work has appeared in domestic and international anthologies and journals from the United States and Canada. Two representative poems are below.

Winning three teaching awards (one at the University of Toronto, two at the University of Regina), his teaching reflects his interests listed earlier. He has developed numerous Honours / Graduate courses: some of the more recent ones are Literature and the Anthropocene, Ekphrasis: Theory and Practice; The Experimental Memoir; Zombies and Philosophical Ethics. See below for a sample syllabus.


"If You Worry About the Globe Spinning Out of Control." Angry Old Man. 7. 2019. https://angryoldmanmagazine.com/michael-trussler/

“Salvador Dali and the Glacier.” Canary. 46 (Fall 2019): http://canarylitmag.org/#860


The Sunday Book. —2nd Place 2020 Saskatchewan Writers Guild: John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award: Nonfiction.

“As Unnoticed as Possible.” —Honourable Mention. Vallum Award for Poetry 2020.

“Asleep.” Arc. —1st Place for Confederation Poets Prize 2007.

“Four Windows.” —1st Place Vallum Award for Poetry 2006.

Encounters. —Won Regina and Book of the Year, Saskatchewan Book Awards 2006.

“Salva Nos.”The New Quarterly. —1st Prize for Theme Issue

“A Summer Place.” 2004. “The Blue Ball” and “Her Front Yard.” The Antigonish Review. —Two poems won 3rd place in The Great Blue Heron Poetry Contest. 2003.


Work by Our Graduates

Tracy Hamon, Red Curls. Thistledown, 2014.


Chelsea Coupal, Sedley. Coteau, 2018.


Courtney Bates-Hardy, House of Mystery.


Cassidy McFadzean, Hacker Packer


Coby Stephenson, Violet Quesnel



The MA in Creative Writing at the University of Regina gave me two years to concentrate on assembling a manuscript of poems while following some of my literary academic interests. The level of genuine mentorship and support I received not only helped me in terms of technical craft, but created a generative space in which I felt encouraged to follow the poems in new and exciting directions!  - Nathan Mader, MA graduate

The MA in Creative Writing and English at the U of R enabled me to not only take graduate classes in English, but also to complete a manuscript of my own. With options in poetry, fiction, drama, and now nonfiction, students like me can get the opportunity, guidance, and support they need to turn their ideas and dreams into coherent, creative, fulfilling and marketable texts; my memoir is a direct result of working with supervisors like Dr. Grande and Dr. Purdham and of this program.  - Debby Adair, MA graduate



Literary Culture of Regina and Saskatchewan

Sage Hill Writing Experience: In its 27th year, Sage Hill offers writing workshops, colloquiums and an infamous retreat which draws participants internationally and provides professional development to writers at all stages of their careers.

SK Writers/Artist Retreats (Summer, Winter and Facilitated Retreat): Administered by the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild, retreats are offered several times a year for writers and artists from Saskatchewan, Canada, and beyond.

Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild: The Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild offers to the local writing community several programs, services, awards, professional development workshops, contests, and events, such as the Mentorship program, Write after Lunch, the John V. Hicks Award, the annual conference, etc.

Talking Fresh (Literary Festival): Talking Fresh is a two-day writers’ festival that targets Regina and a wider Saskatchewan community including aspiring writers and anyone interested in writers and books.

Writing North (Literary Festival): This annual two-day festival, organized by the Department of English and the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild, is for aspiring writers and anyone interested in books and features panel discussions, writers’ talks and readings.

Vertigo Reading Series: Reading and performance series featuring poems, songs, stories and spoken word, based in Regina.

Online Literary Journal – Roadmaps and Liferafts: Road Maps and Life Rafts is a small online lit mag emerging out of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The magazine draws in pieces that center on travel and the concept of journeying, whether that journey is a physical journey from place to place, or of personal growth and development.

Trash Talkin’ Literary Conference: An interdisciplinary conference for undergraduate and graduate students on popular culture and creative writing, hosted by students of the University of Regina.

The Word on the Street: The Word On The Street is a non-profit organization that celebrates Canadian reading, writing, and champions literacy primarily through a free, annual outdoor festival.

Cathedral Village Arts Festival: Showcases performance, artwork, and literary readings and workshops in Regina’s arts district.

OMAD Lecture Series: Both creative and scholarly presentations by faculty, staff, and students at the University of Regina.

Sâkêwêwak Annual Storyteller’s Festival: Based in Regina and Saskatoon, this community-based, multidisciplinary arts showcase features Indigenous storytelling and author readings.

Artestian Theatre: Community space and theatre in Cathedral Village, which often put on literary readings and performances.

The Penny University: Bookstore/cafe in Cathedral Village which also hosts literary events.

Gay and Lesbian Community of Regina: The GLCR community space and night-club is involved in hosting performances, drag culture, and fundraising. There are also literary events connected with Queen City Pride, as well as the Queer City Cinema film festival.