Alumni shine at 2017 City of Regina Writing Awards

By Costa Maragos Posted: June 1, 2017 11:30 a.m.

Iryn Tushabe (l) and Chelsea Coupal were honoured at the City of Regina Writing Awards.
Iryn Tushabe (l) and Chelsea Coupal were honoured at the City of Regina Writing Awards. Photo courtesy of Medrie Purdham

Chelsea Coupal’s soon to be published book of poetry is already a hit.

Coupal, who recently earned an MA in Creative Writing at the U of R, has taken top prize in the 2017 City of Regina Writing Award. Coupal received the award and the $4,500 prize at a reception in Regina, May 31.  

“I was thrilled, surprised and really humbled,” says Coupal who is a Senior Communications Advisor for the Government of Saskatchewan.

Coupal earned two undergraduate degrees from the U of R - a BA in Journalism and a BA Honours in English.

Coupal’s hometown of Sedley, Saskatchewan, serves as the inspiration for her poetry, scheduled to be published by Regina’s Coteau Books in 2018.

“Sedley” also served as the basis for her Creative Writing Master’s thesis, which she successfully defended in late 2016.

“I consider it regionalist poetry, prairie poetry,” says Coupal. “It is very concerned with one place with the focus on contemporary rural Saskatchewan.”

Coupal's poems are described by one of the awards judges as having a “luminous simplicity to them and beautifully bring rural Saskatchewan to life."

An independent jury of writers from across Canada is selected to adjudicate the City of Regina Awards which attracts some top-notch writers.

The 2017 runners-up are also U of R alumni.

Melanie Schnell is a sessional lecturer in the English Department and is teaching English 110 online in the Fall. She also regularly teaches Creative Writing and High School Accelerated English 100 online.

Schnell earned her Bachelor of Education degree with a major in English from the U of R and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.

Her first novel, While the Sun is Above Us, won the First Book Award and the City of Regina Award and was shortlisted for the Book of the Year and the Fiction Award. It’s now a part of the curriculum in Saskatchewan's Public and Catholic Schools.

The other runner-up is Iryn Tushabe, a Ugandan writer and independent journalist living in Regina. Her work The Star in My Dream was on the longlist of CBC’s the Canadian Creative Nonfiction Prize.

Her creative non-fiction has appeared in Briarpatch Magazine after winning Best of Regina in the grassroot magazine’s annual writing contest. Her narrative journalism has been published in Prairies North Magazine, QC and Bridges magazines.

Tushabe earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Cinematography and Film/video Production and a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism.  

The City of Regina Writing Awards are sponsored by the City of Regina and administered by the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild.

Harry Potter magic rubs off on English students presenting at academic conference

J-School documentary showcase features thought-provoking stories

U of R Press book remembers fiery politician