The writing is on the wall 

By Russ Cooper

Wanda O’Connor Magnifying glass

Wanda O’Connor

Speaking with recent English grad Wanda O'Connor is almost a poetry lesson in itself.

"Henry Miller wrote, 'we live at the edge of the miraculous,'" she says. "As a poet myself, I embrace and covet that edge."

Finishing with an honours baccalaureate in classical languages and literatures with a major in creative writing, O'Connor is on the verge of launching herself from that precipice into a new career in writing and teaching.

O'Connor came to Concordia after nearly a decade as a web designer for the federal government in her hometown of Ottawa. While working, she wrote poetry on her own, gathering a respectable reputation around town. In 2004, she entered and won a CBC literary contest, gathering more attention to her creative work. So much so, CBC producers asked her to represent Ottawa poets' community on a local show shortly afterwards.

Whether she sensed a shifting momentum or perhaps just by serendipity, she heard about the creative writing program here and began to consider the road less travelled.

"I've always had a sense of curiosity, enthusiasm for learning, and inventiveness," she says, "and I decided for a change."

Since being here, she served as president of the Concordia Classics Student Association (2008-09), received numerous bursaries, was published in two anthology books of poetry, and was a member of the Golden Key honours society. As well, she's worked at the Student Success Centre as a mentor and tutor, helping guide other students along their own scholastic paths.

"I'm the kind of person who gets involved, and Concordia provided so many opportunities to do so," she says.

She's earned a sizeable SSHRC graduate scholarship grant to help fund her efforts as she returns in September for her master's in the study of poetics.

She credits her teachers – Sean Gurd, Annette Teffeteller, Stephanie Bolster and Andre Furlani – for providing an encouraging environment; one she's considering joining as a teacher in the future herself.

"It's been so multilayered and enriching here. I've been given what I needed, I've been guided and I can honestly say my courses were fantastic."


Concordia University