The Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program


Next Deadline for Applications:October 31st, 2011

This program pairs emerging writers with established, professional writers to work together one-on-one for a five month period. During the program, the emerging writer is encouraged to utilize the expertise of the professional writer in the areas of manuscript evaluation, markets and publishing, and grants and employment opportunities.


The program is designed for emerging writers who have made a commitment to their writing and is not to take the place of a creative writing course. Emerging writers are expected to have been writing for some time and have a body of work. For many emerging writers who have participated in the program, the experience of working with a professional writer often marks the transition from beginning writer to published author.


In March, 2004 the Board decided to name the Emerging Writers’ Mentor Program after the late Sheldon Oberman, to pay tribute to his effort and encouragement when working with new and emerging writers. Founding Guild member Sheldon Oberman participated in the first annual Mentor Program as an apprentice in 1988 (mentor, David Arnason) and as he developed as a writer, he became one of the program’s longest serving mentors.

“I approach the work of an emerging writer with a great deal of respect for personal process. I seek the teaching methods with which the writer feels most comfortable… I offer my response first as a reader describing how I understand and feel as I read the writer’s work. Only when I understand the effect the writer wishes to achieve do I make suggestions on how the writer can alter the work to better achieve it.”

Sheldon Oberman was one of Canada’s most popular children’s authors, winning several awards including the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award (By the Hanukkah Light, Boyds Mills Press in 1997, The Wisdom Bird, Boyds Mills Press in 2001). His book, The Shaman’s Nephew was nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 2000 and his book The Always Prayer Shawl won the Sydney Taylor American Librarians Award and the National Jewish Book Award in 1994.



Six emerging writers and six senior writers will be selected from among the applicants, and will be paired for a five-month mentorship. Writers are asked to specify the literary genre in which they are currently working, and to send support material in that genre. Eligible genres are: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and writing for children and young adults.


Apprentices and mentors are asked to commit to ten one-on-one meetings between January and May 2012.  At each meeting, mentors will comment on a piece of the apprentice’s work, focusing on issues such as writing process, literary techniques, self-editing and manuscript development. Attention will also be devoted to markets, publishing and grants. Applications are invited from writers in every part of Manitoba. Where rural writers are chosen, the mentorship will be conducted on-line.


At the end of the program in June, apprentices will have the opportunity to read their work at a public event hosted by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild.


For more information, click here.

Lindsey Childs

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