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UBC to offer first university writing course in Nelson since 1984

By Contributor
May 19th, 2015

Starting this September, the University of B.C. will offer in Nelson a creative writing course focused on community that will help students develop their skills in writing non-fiction, fiction, poetry and drama. 

The credit course will be open both to anyone who qualifies for UBC entrance, and to unclassified students: members of the public who will receive university credit for the course but aren’t entering into a degree program at UBC.

The course, “Writing from the Ground Up,” will be held over four weekends, with the class meeting every other week on the Friday evening and Saturday day on Sept. 25-26, Oct.  9-10; Oct. 23-24 and Nov. 6-7. 

UBC’s course will be the first university writing course offered in Nelson since the closing of David Thompson University Centre in 1984. 

DTUC was a consortium of Selkirk College and the University of Victoria.

During September, October and November the instructor of UBC’s course also will be available to the Nelson community as the Nelson Rotary UBC writer-in-residence, providing advice and feedback about writing and publishing to local area residents and schools. 

Nelson Rotary last month donated $1,000 towards the costs of the writer-in-residency portion of UBC’s offering.

“We’re very pleased to be able to provide this opportunity to Nelson,” said Dr. Ashok Mathur, Head of Creative Studies at UBC’s Okanagan campus. 

“The course is themed to help show that writing arises from and returns to one’s community—human and natural. 

‘Writing from the Ground Up’ provides a solid foundation for further studies in creative writing, as well as a chance to develop an appreciation of many possibilities as a writer.

“We hope this will lead to an explosion of creative writing in Nelson, and we look forward to collaborating with our colleagues at Selkirk College and with the community at large.  And we’re grateful to Rotary for helping make our instructor available to share expertise about all aspects of the literary life with Nelsonites throughout the duration of the course.”

Mathur said registration for the credit course, on a first-come, first-served basis, will open on the UBC registration site later in May. 

No portfolio is required for admission, and the cost will be approximately $500. 

Still to come are details on who will teach the course, and where in Nelson classes will be held.

“We’ll be publicizing details as they become available, including how to register, both in the media and on the website of the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival,” said Verna Relkoff, a member of the education committee of Nelson’s Kootenay Literary Society, parent organization of the city’s literary festival.

“So you can check in at, under the ‘Courses’ tab,” Relkoff said.  “And if you want us to let you know personally as soon as registration opens, drop us a line right away at .”

Relkoff said Mathur will be attending this year’s literary festival, the 4th annual, to be held July 10-12.  Mathur will be speaking on two of four panels that will examine aspects of the creative process.

The Kootenay Literary Society’s education committee has been working for several years to see a postsecondary program in creative writing restored to Nelson, Relkoff noted. 

“Last summer, after years of inconclusive talks with the three Interior mountain colleges, we approached UBC.  We’ve been very excited by their willingness to see Nelson as a university town.”

Relkoff said UBC may consider offering more writing courses in Nelson if demand warrants.  “

UBC’s potential presence in Nelson represents the possibility of a huge boost to the educational, cultural and economic sectors. 

It’s no wonder we’ve been finding so much support for the university’s presence here so far from Nelson Rotary, city council members, and members of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, as well as the town’s lively literary scene.

“So next fall, while during the UBC course’s four intensive weekends you’re honing your skills at writing a family history, memoir, novel, poems, or script for stage or screen, you’ll potentially also be contributing to a bright new page in Nelson’s future.”

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