On campus, writing usually means finishing up an essay — but if you’re interested in the art of creative writing, there are numerous groups that can help nurture your growing talents at the University of Toronto.
Red Ink at Victoria College and the Writer’s Co-op at the Hart House Literary and Library Committee are two groups that meet on a weekly basis to talk all things creative writing. Write Now is another group, which was created this year and holds meetings three times a week.
According to Peter Francis, vice president of Red Ink, “Red Ink is a fundamentally supportive group filled with wild imaginations.” The group meets every week at Caffiends.
Francis explained that one of the greatest strengths of Red Ink is its ability to provide student writers with a platform to share their work. The group is organized around a weekly theme, with popular topics including characterization and setting.
The meetings involve talking about different writing tools, and discussing the different members’ work. Ian De Rege, the former co-president of Red Ink, believes that the club offers all its members a “fun, very no-pressure way to get some writing done.”
Similar to Red Ink, the Writer’s Co-op of the Hart House Literary and Library Committee offers a community for those looking to hone their writing skills on a weekly basis.
Michelle Monteiro, the group’s organizer, explains that the focus of the workshops tends to vary based on the interests of the group every year. While last year was more focused on the “how to” of creative writing, this year, the workshop is more abstract and often involves discussions and debates. Monteiro also believes that, while students tend to assume such groups are largely for students studying English, anyone is free to join and be a part of the co-op.
The co-op meets on Tuesdays from 3:00-5:00 pm at Hart House.
Write Now is piloted by U of T’s poet-in-community, Ronna Bloom. Visiting one of the sessions, the group includes just 20 people, including student facilitators Marcus Creaghan and Ariel Martz-Oberlander.
Write Now’s workshops allow students to express themselves creatively outside of their busy academic lives.
“It’s not only about identifying your feelings and being okay with what you’re feeling, but it’s about translating that somehow onto the page. We just want to hold their hand while they do that,” explains Martz-Oberlander.
The group exercises are framed with prompts about the week’s theme — this week, identity. After listening to two poems, we’re challenged to write our own poem based on words we think describe ourselves. When the group shares their poems, the different ideas are great. One person wrote from the perspective of a planet; another from a person who hates tattoos.
Creaghan says that the informal tone lets people embody unique perspectives.
“Some people I think very much want to learn to write and we’re not creative writing teachers, that’s not our profession here. And I think other people treat it a little bit like group therapy and I’d like to be able to create a space for both,” he explains.
The meeting certainly seems a bit like group therapy and, after a long week of midterms, it’s relaxing to write and talk informally, free of pressure.
Through weekly meetings, groups like these offer students a platform to develop their passion for writing amidst their unforgiving academic schedules. These groups provide a comfortable environment that encourages interaction and sharing amongst members to express themselves freely and develop creatively.