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King’s names new mentor-apprentice

May 13, 2019

The University of King’s College MFA in Creative Nonfiction program is pleased to announce that Cooper Lee Bombardier will be our MFA mentor apprentice for 2019-20.

Cooper, who holds an MFA in Creative Writing/Nonfiction and a Master of Science in Writing/Book Publishing, both from Portland State University, as well as a BFA in Illustration from Massachusetts College of Art, is a queer and trans writer working primarily in creative nonfiction. He has taught at the university level in the United States and Canada.

The Huffington Post listed Cooper as one of “10 Transgender Artists Who Are Changing the Landscape of Contemporary Art.”

Cooper says he applied for the mentor apprenticeship position because the “description sounded exactly like me, or at least like where I am at in my career as a writer and educator.”

American by birth and now a Canadian permanent resident, he initially moved to Nova Scotia after his wife was offered a tenure-track faculty position in Halifax. “Of all of the places that extended her an offer, Halifax was the location I was most excited about,” he says now. “I grew up outside of Boston, and my great-grandmother, a Cape Bretoner, was my next-door neighbor. I’d long wanted to come to Nova Scotia to visit our ancestral home.”

His new surroundings have also had an influence on his own writing. “From a craft or content perspective, being here and connecting with my living ancestors in Cape Breton has sparked some ideas for a book project on how one reconciles the complexities of ancestry, history, the living legacies of colonization in everyday modern life in a place as multivalent and steeped in history as here.”

Cooper, whose own memoir-in-essays, Pass with Care, is forthcoming from Dottir Press in Spring 2020, will also bring to the program his own perspectives on writing. “Writing as queer and as trans for the past 20-plus years has made me hyper-conscious about whose stories get to be told and heard. I’ve had a ton of privileges in my life too, but the ways in which I am marginalized shape the stories I write and also the way I teach. I see creative writing as a liberatory act and for all of my writing students I do what I can to demystify the publishing process and minimize barriers to resources that can support them in creative work.”

“One of the essential aspects of the mentor apprentice program is that both the program and the apprentice are enriched,” says the MFA’s executive director, Kim Pittaway. “I look forward to the perspective that Cooper brings to us, and the ways in which his insights will contribute to the conversations we have about the craft, practice and ethics of creative nonfiction writing. We’re delighted to have him join us.”

Cooper was selected for the one-year mentor apprenticeship from among 15 applicants. In his time with the program, he will be shadowing mentors in workshops, attending the summer and winter residencies, and preparing a lecture and craft paper on nonfiction writing/teaching. 

Given past inequities and systemic bias, King’s established the mentor apprenticeship program to expand opportunities for early-career writers and editors from marginalized communities to develop their teaching and mentoring skills through the mentor apprenticeship. The nine-month position was open to applicants from traditionally marginalized communities, including writers/editors of Indigenous, African-Nova Scotian, POC, LGBTQ2+, disability or low-income backgrounds.

King’s is grateful this apprenticeship program has been made possible as part of a larger gift from the John and Judy Bragg Family Foundation.

You can find more information on the MFA here.