David Bezmozgis

He’s an award-winning writer and filmmaker and – as of July – the newest head of the Humber School for Writers.

David Bezmozgis, who’s taught in the School for Writers for more than a decade, sits down this Wednesday at 7 p.m. for a Facebook Live discussion with one of his former students. It can be seen on our Facebook page.

Bezmozgis is author of Natasha and Other Stories, The Free World and The Betrayers. He’s been nominated twice for the Giller Prize and Governor General’s Literary Awards. Natasha won the Toronto Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for First Book. The Free World won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and The Betrayers won the National Jewish Book Award, fiction.

He recently wrote and directed the film Natasha, based on his first book, and was a staff writer for the fifth season of Orphan Black.

“I think the form that is the most elastic remains prose,” he said, explaining why he loves writing books. “It’s limitless what you can do with your imagination. What you can do with a novel or stories generally exceeds what you can do with film or television, just because of the practical limitations.

“It’s in large part why, when the position at Humber to become director of the School for Writers came up, that it seemed like it came at a moment in my life when I felt more and more like I wanted to devote myself to writing. Not to the exclusion of everything else, but to focus on it ... I want to help other aspiring writers find their voices and to find their place in publishing, or just to improve themselves.”

Writing is in general a lonely undertaking, Bezmozgis said, which is why studying at the School for Writers is a valuable experience. The main program lasts 30 weeks and is conducted through correspondence. Students are paired with a mentor who reads their writing and provides individual feedback. Faculty includes Lawrence Hill, Olive Senior and MG Vassanji.

“Even writers who are published and who have multiple books work alone. It helps to have somebody to discuss your work with, it helps to have somebody who understands the craft that you can have a conversation with,” said Bezmozgis.

“Down the line if you’re so lucky you will get into an editorial conversation with your editor. But even before people reach that point, it helps to have somebody to have that conversation with and to refine your work. I think Humber has been wonderful at doing that over the years. It has an important role in doing that, also because it has a very strong relationship with the publishing industry in this country.”