Hannah Barr

Theology and Religion student wins Creative Writing Scholarship

Hannah Barr spent a year studying abroad at the University of Ottawa, during which time she was awarded a joint $500 award for excellence in creative writing.

Hannah, a BA Theology and Religion student at the University of Exeter, was nominated for the 2013 Ottawa Independent Writers (OIW) Scholarship for Creative Writing by her Creative Writing lecturer. She shares the award with Teresa Yang, a University of Ottowa student. The $500 award was established by OIW to recognize young writers who put forward the effort required to achieve a high standard in their writing. Hannah and Teresa will receive $250 each.

Hannah undertook an exchange year at the University of Ottawa in 2012-2013. While in Ottawa, she took a variety of arts courses specialising in First Nations studies and Jewish Canadian studies, of which she comments “it was great to study because it allowed me to bring my theology skills to the discipline, whilst learning about something completely new and really interesting.” Hannah also took a creative writing class with Professor Seymour Mayne from the Department of English who is known as an author, editor or translator of more than fifty books and monographs, including anthologies and critical texts. Professor Mayne’s work is represented in more than eighty national and international anthologies, and his own writings have been translated into French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Yiddish.

Hannah comments, “It was a huge shock to be told Professor Mayne had selected me to win. He was my favourite professor at the University of Ottawa and I ended up taking three classes with him. He's a professional writer and a prolific one at that, and to be mentored by him in both my academic work and my creative writing was a joy and a privilege.”

The two short stories Hannah submitted formed part of her final portfolio for Professor Mayne and were titled 'God Save the Heartbreak Queen' and 'Playing the Job Card.'

Professor Mayne, who is also a published poet, comments of Hannah’s writing, “deft characterization and sharp diction stand out as two stylistic hallmarks of her craft. Word play and humour enhance the adept use of the first person narration in her stories. The collage of crisp and lively dialogue gives momentum and vivacity to her writing. Her stories centre on the lives of younger characters who have to cope with absent parents and an absent God in contemporary society which she handles at all times with a skilful attention to language.”

Hannah returns to Exeter for her final year in September 2013 and says that she is particularly looking forward to the module Jewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust as she will be able to use her knowledge gained from her study in Ottawa. She hopes to write in the future for young people on issues within Christianity.

Date: 19 June 2013

Read more University News