Writer in Residence


The Department of English is pleased to announce the Carol Shields Writer in Residence for 2021: Souvankham Thammavongsa

The residency will take place completely online in 2021.

Author photo by Sarah Bodri

Souvankham Thammavongsa's fiction has appeared in Harper's, Granta, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Best American Non-Required Reading, The Journey Prize Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Her debut book of fiction, How to Pronounce Knife, is the winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, a New York Times Editors' Choice, and one of Time's Must-Read Books of 2020. The title story was a finalist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Thammavongsa is also the author of four acclaimed poetry books: Light, winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry; Found; Small Arguments, winner of the ReLit Award; and, most recently, Cluster. Born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, she was raised and educated in Toronto, where she is at work on her first novel.
Souvankham tells the UW: “I believe it will be a dramatic creative period of intensified writing. I am also honoured to join the list of writers who have held this residency, to be listed among them. Above all, the proximity to the writer after whom this residency is named is an absolute distinction. I am excited to meet students and members in the community. I know their generosity and openness and care will be encouraging and inspiring.”
Beginning February 1, Members of the Winnipeg community, both on and off campus, may consult Ms Thammavongsa about their own creative writing by email at Please send a short cover letter to introduce yourself, and limit your creative writing submissions to under ten pages. Thank you!

On Wednesday, February 24, Souvankham delivered the annual Carol Shields Distinguished Lecture on the topic of "What Is a Writer?" You can watch the lecture, along with a conversation with English Department member Dr. Sandy Pool, here:


The Carol Shields Writer-in-Residence Program at the University of Winnipeg was made possible by a generous donation from the Shields family. The program’s name honours the memory of Carol Shields, Pulitzer-prize winning novelist and Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg from 1996 to 2000. At Convocations, our students and their families were privileged to hear her wise and beautifully-crafted addresses to the graduands. Carol was also a generous mentor to emerging writers, so this program is a fitting tribute to her. As former UW President Dr. Lloyd Axworthy has said, "Carol was enormously committed to cultivating young writers. Through the thoughtfulness and generosity that the Shields family has shown to the University, opportunities have been created for many more people and emerging writers to discover their creative voices."

Past writers in this program include Margaret Sweatman, Sandra Birdsell, John Weier, Maria Campbell, David Bergen, Ivan Coyote, Debbie Paterson, Gregory Scofield, Chandra Mayor, Jennifer Still, Rick Chafe, Katherena Vermette, Méira Cook, Garry Thomas Morse and GMB Chomichuk.

A Chat with 2013-14 Writer-in-Residence Chandra Mayor and 2012-13 Writer-in-Residence Gregory Scofield

Friends of Carol Shields Celebrate Writer in Residence Program

On November 22, 2012, the English Department, in collaboration with the University of Winnipeg Foundation, held a Reception for the Friends of Carol Shields Writer-in-Residence Program. Carol was so well-loved and had touched so many, the evening was a great success with over fifty guests making their way to Convocation Hall on the first snowy Winnipeg night of the season. Thank you to all who attended for sharing stories about Carol as well as plans for the future of the Residency.

If you would like to become a Friend of the Program by making a donation please click here.