U of W welcomes multi-disciplinary writer-in-residence

GMB Chomichuk begins his position on Feb. 3

“There’s an old saying that the source of all human misery is that we sometimes believe our thoughts,” GMB Chomichuk, the University of Winnipeg’s (U of W) 2020 Carol Shields Writer-in-Residence, says. He mentions this after being asked about the biggest challenges facing young writers.

“I would say that most people believe that they can’t do it, and if I can show them that it’s not as hard as they think, that’ll go a long way,” he says.

Chomichuk, a writer and illustrator, will begin his position as writer-in-residence on Feb. 3. According to the U of W website, he will help writers on campus. His inaugural reading took place on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 12:30 p.m., in Room 2M70, while the Carol Shields Distinguished Lecture will take place on Thursday Feb. 27 at 7 p.m., in Room 2M70.

Writer and illustrator GMB Chomichuk is the 2020 Carol Shields Writer-in-Residence. // Photo by Keely Braunstein-Black

Past writers-in-residence have included Sandra Birdsell, Garry Thomas Morse, Maria Campbell and David Bergen.

“I think the writer-in-residence (program) is invaluable, because it bridges the university and the community,” Candida Rifkind, a professor in the English department at the U of W, says. “It brings a working writer onto campus and gives students access to that for individual feedback and through readings and other workshops,” she says.

When asked about Chomichuk being this year’s writer-in-residence, Rifkind describes his work as “dynamic, exciting and rich.”

“I’m really excited that this is our first writer-in-residence who is an illustrator and cartoonist, as well as a writer,” she says. “He’s also a former teacher and educator, and he’s just wonderful and engaging with people.” Chomichuk himself says his previous experience as an educator will make this experience as a “nice combination of those two passions” of teaching and writing.

“I think the reason they selected me is what I’m hoping to help people with ... the next steps in their writing,” he says. “I’ve done a really wide range of stuff, and I think that the English department is not just for the novelist, but for people who want to use words or words and pictures together,” Chomichuk says.

This “wide range of stuff” includes writing graphic novels such as Cassie and Tonk, hosting the podcast Super Pulp Science and producing work for “film, television, theatre, books, comics and graphic novels,” according to his bio in a media release announcing his new residency.

Rifkind mentions the multidisciplinary nature of his work and output as a huge asset.

“The other reason I’m really pleased to have him with us is he works collaboratively quite a lot more than many other writers, and I think that’s becoming increasingly important for people,” she says.

For more information on the U of W writer-in-residence and related events, visit uwinnipeg.ca/english/writer-in-residence. html.

Published in Volume 74, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 30, 2020)

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