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May 9, 2002 Bumper crop of Canada Council awards for Concordia writers



Eight Concordia students from the MA program in creative writing — current students, recent graduates, or students who have recently taken graduate courses in the program — recently received writing grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. These grants are notoriously difficult to obtain, according to those in the know.

Oana Avasilichioaei has just finished her master’s in English and creative writing. She wrote a book of poetry for her thesis called Abandon, and her Canada Council grant will be for her next poetry project.

Oana was born in Romania, and came to Canada when she was 10. She lived in Vancouver for about 13 years, took her undergrad degree there, and moved to Montreal three years ago. We contacted her by e-mail.

“I’ve been published in a few places such as Prism International, Matrix, The Antigonish Review, The Vancouver Sun and Running With Scissors (an anthology by Cumulus Press), though I haven’t had a book published yet.

“Besides poetry, I’ve also done translation, mainly of a Romanian poet named Nichita Stanescu. In 2000 I put out a chapbook of his work with ITP Press entitled Occupational Sickness. I have also written non-fiction.”

Susan Gillis
came to Montreal in 1998 to teach English as a second language, and will graduate with her master’s in English and creative writing in June.

Her first book of poetry was Swimming Among the Ruins, published by Signature Editions. It evoked “the submerged foundations of a ruined city, place names that recall the past, ancient statuary, a drop of water echoing in an empty tomb, personal memories, heat left on a path walked by generations.”

Susan added by e-mail, “The grant means I’ll be able to turn my full attention to the project I’m working on over the summer, instead of worrying about what to do after graduation.”

Francesca LoDico e-mailed CTR from Banff, saying “It’s been a tremendous couple of months!” Along with fellow Concordia grant recipient Sarah Venart, she has the use of a Banff Writing Studio that puts her in touch with stars like Bonnie Bernard (author of A Good House, winner of the 1999 Giller Prize) and Elizabeth Hay (A Student of Weather, winner of the Governor-General’s Award).

“I’m working on a memoir about growing up in Sicily and a collection of food essays,” LoDico wrote. “I also work as a book editor and a freelance food and travel writer. I recently had features in Saturday Post and enRoute magazine.

“I’m also developing a television food show, and I’m writing the guidebook Secret Montreal and the chapter on dining for another guidebook.”

The other recipients of Canada Council awards from Concordia are Julia Gedeon-Matusky, whose voice is well known to local CBC radio listeners, Dana Bath, Suki Lee and Lance Blomgren.