Beth’s courses at the University of Toronto
Winner, 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award, Creative Writing, U of T School of Continuing Studies.

I taught “True to Life: Writing Your Own Story” at Ryerson University for 26 years, until Covid shut us down in 2020. Since 2007 and ongoing, I have taught “Life Stories I and II” at the University of Toronto. The course currently runs Tuesday afternoons on Zoom, so is open to students from around the world. It works extremely well on Zoom.

“Life Stories I” is for anyone, both experienced and inexperienced, interested in finding inspiration, structure, and support for their personal writing. “Life Stories II,” which runs only sometimes in the winter term, is for writers who have taken Life Stories I and wish to continue.

The course explores the kind of writing I love and write myself: 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’s 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. (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

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.