Arleen Paré

The Writer's Studio (Creative Writing Certificate) ,  2002

During a life-changing phone call last fall, Arleen Paré learned she’d won the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Poetry only 10 days after hearing that her third book, Lake of Two Mountains, had been shortlisted.

“It was never on my radar,” she says. “It was a fabulous, fabulous moment.”

Writing is a second career for Paré, who spent years working in social services. After completing her MA thesis, she found she missed writing, so she began a novel. This eventually led her to The Writer’s Studio at SFU.

“It was completely brilliant,” she says. For her, the most appealing thing was the opportunity to learn and workshop with a group of like-minded writers for an entire year. By the end, she says, “I felt like I had some mastery of writing.”

Shortly after completing The Writer’s Studio, she retired from social work and began to focus on writing.

Paper Trail (2007), a story inspired by Paré’s time as a social worker, made her the first Writer’s Studio graduate to publish a book. In 2008, it won the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Prize. Paré published her second book, Leaving Now, in 2012. Lake of Two Mountains (2014) is a collection of poems inspired by a lake of the same name in Quebec where she spent time as a child.

“None of this would have happened, I don’t think, without The Writer’s Studio,” Paré says.

Submitted by: Amy Robertson

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