teaching

Beth’s courses at Ryerson and the University of Toronto
2012 Excellence in Teaching award, Creative Writing, University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.

Since 1994 I have taught in the Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto. My course is entitled “True to Life: writing your own story.”

www.ryerson.ca/ce/writing

Since 2007 I have also taught “Life Stories” at the University of Toronto.
www.learn.utoronto.ca

A 2020 update: this year, Ryerson is only running courses already set up for online distance learning, which does not include mine, but U of T is running some courses in person, with very limited class size set in big classrooms, allowing distancing. Life Stories will run on Tuesdays, 12.30 – 3, from October 20. Please contact me for more information if needed.

About my teaching: Both courses explore the kind of writing I love: creative non-fiction, specifically memoir and personal essay.

Some of my students have never written a single “creative” word, a few have been published but are now stuck, and most are somewhere in between — they have always wanted to write or wrote when younger but stopped, and they need structure, encouragement, and practical feedback.

It is my job to help them find their most vital stories, the courage and discipline to get the stories down, and the technique to make their narratives compelling for others to read.

Although, for me, students have achieved success when they find satisfaction in their writing work, there’s another kind of success story that makes me proud — stuffed in a large box in my office are published books, essays in anthologies, magazines, and newspapers, and even writing prizes won by my students.

If you’re interested in studying with me and have questions, please get in touch via the Contacts page on this website.

Student Writing

Below are some stories by a cross-section of former students who have continued working with me. These writers and I have come to know each other so well that we are almost like family. (Each story is copyrighted by the author and cannot be reproduced without the author’s permission.)

Sick by R. S. Croft
R.S. Croft is a pseudonym for a writer who today lives drug-free, supports
herself as a stripper, and sends powerful bulletins from a world
we rarely encounter in prose.

The Bad Day by Kate Gallant
That Kate Gallant is a gifted comic actress shows in her writing, which
begs to be read out loud.

Hating Your Thighs & Brunch
#1: Arrivals and Departures
by Jessica Harris
Jessica Harris, whose essay in the anthology “Wedding Dresses” was
singled out for praise, here explores heartache with her usual wry
honesty.

On Becoming 40 by Gillian Kerr
Gillian Kerr’s story “Tiny Tomatoes,” written for her class at Ryerson, was chosen for the third “Dropped Threads” anthology.  She writes with rare transparency and candor.

Inside 229 by Sylvia Knight
Sylvia Knight has written a funny and moving memoir of her entire life,
from a very early memory of her childhood home in Toronto’s
Beach neighborhood, printed here, to now, in her seventies.

Pat by Elizabeth Marsh
Elizabeth Marsh writes with unsentimental precision and grace about
her family homestead in the Ottawa valley, then and now.

Adrian’s Bucket by Gerry Withey
Gerry Withey is both a busy visual artist and a perceptive, original
and lucid writer.