Alumni up for Governor General's Awards

Two UBC Creative Writing graduates and a former student are among the nominees for this year's Governor General's Awards.

"UBC has always attracted excellent writers in the Creative Writing program, but in the last few years we have seen stars emerge," says Linda Svendsen, chair of the program.

Graduate Lynn Coady is nominated in the fiction category for her novel Strange Heaven, published by Goose Lane.

The novel celebrates the joys and frustrations of teenager Bridget Murphy, confined to the mental ward in the Hospital for Sick Children in Halifax for depression after giving up an illegitimate baby. Globe and Mail critic Kenneth J. Harvey describes it as "one of the most astonishing fictional debuts."

Coady received her Master of Fine Arts last year. Coady has already won the Canadian Author's Association/Air Canada award for most promising novelist.

Graduate Stephanie Bolster has been nominated for a Governor General's Award in poetry for White Stone: The Alice Poems published by Signal Editions Vehicule Press.

Bolster says her poems, triggered by the classic children's book, Alice in Wonderland, are meant for teenagers and adults.

Some of the poems were inspired by the icon of Alice, others by Alice Liddle, the real-life Alice who, as a child, begged author Lewis Carroll to write the story down.

"It was such a rich project I felt I could go on for the next 10 years writing about it," says Bolster.

She completed the poems for her thesis supervised by poet and Killam Teaching Prize-winner Prof. George McWhirter.

In the children's literature category, Gayle Friesen is nominated for Janey's Girl published by Kids Can Press. Friesen studied with Creative Writing Prof. Sue Ann Alderson for two years.

The winners, who each receive a $10,000 prize, will be announced in Ottawa Nov. 17.

The Creative Writing Program's prominent graduates include playwrights Morris Panych and Joan McLeod, both winners of Governor-General's Awards, multiple Gemini award winner Hart Hanson, co-creator, producer and writer of the TV program Traders, and Saturday Night senior editor Zsuzsi Gartner, whose travel memoir, Paris, Tahiti and the World in Between will be published by Random House next year.