The 2012 Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program is open for submissions (reposted from Manitoba Writers’ Guild)

by kipress

Application Deadline: October 31st for the January – May 2012 Program

The Sheldon Oberman Mentorship 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.

Eligibility & Application Process

Emerging writers with a clear commitment to writing are encouraged to apply. Applicants may be published or unpublished, and must be members of the Manitoba Writers Guild for the 2011-12 membership year. Apprentices will be asked to submit materials to their mentors prior to each meeting, and to write a program assessment at the end of the mentorship. There is no cost to the apprentices.

Please submit the following:
A page with name and contact information
A writing resume outlining your recent writing activities and any creative writing courses or workshops you’ve taken. If you are a published writer, provide a list of publications.
A letter describing your current work and explaining why you think this program would benefit you at this stage of your career. Discuss what you intend to work on during the program and what you would like to achieve.
A 10-page writing sample. Prose should be double-spaced.

Writers with two or more published books are encouraged to apply to be a mentor. Applicants must be members of the Manitoba Writers Guild for the 2011-12 membership year. Past experience as an editor, mentor, or creative writing instructor is an asset but not a requirement. Successful applicants will be asked to sign an agreement outlining their responsibilities as mentors.
Mentors selected to participate in the program will receive a $1,500 honourarium provided by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. This will be paid in two installments: $700 upon completion of an interim report halfway through the program, and $800 upon completion of a final report at the end.

Please submit the following:
A page with your name and contact information.
A concise statement describing your mentoring philosophy and process.
A curriculum vitae listing your published work and highlighting your teaching and mentoring experience.
Letters of recommendation from previous students or apprentices (optional and a maximum of two).


Apprentices and mentors will be selected and matched by a jury of established writers and editors chosen by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. Selection will be based on two factors:
The jury’s assessment of the strengths and potential of the applicants, based on the submitted material.
Whether a suitable match can be made between the senior and emerging writers, with respect to genre and writing experience.
The mentors and apprentices selected for the program will be contacted by telephone in December and the program will begin with a welcome reception in January.
To facilitate sending materials to the jury, applicants in both categories are asked to submit their application, including writing sample, by e-mail to Please send the package as a Word attachment.