Just a quick note to say that I’ll be giving a reading along with Scottish Poet, Ian Stephen, at the Saskatchewan Writers Guild on Saturday afternoon at 2 pm. Short notice, but I’ll hope to see you there! Click the link for more info.
Category Archives: Saskatchewan Writers Guild
For the 3rd year running I’m chairing the Literary Arts sub-committee of the Cathedral Village Arts Festival which runs from Monday May 20 to Saturday May 25 in the Cathedral area of Regina. It’s so much fun working with a great collection of Cathedral area writers — Brenda Niskala, Bruce Rice, Coby Stephenson, Debra Bell and Tara Solheim — to bring together another great lineup of literary events at this year’s festival!
Check out the Kickoff Picnic on Monday and catch our very own Tara Dawn Solheim on the Les Sherman Park Stage (off Elphinstone St at 15th Ave). Later that night, we partner with the Vertigo Series for a featured reading by Greg “Ritallin” Frankson followed by an All Ages Open Stage at St Mary’s (3337 15th Ave) where you can sign up and share your words!
On Tuesday, it’s the Poetry Slam at the Mercury Cafe (13th Ave & Robinson St). We’ve snagged Jillian Bell, Co-Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Publishers Group, Joanne Crofford, of Boomtown Drums, and Warren McCall, MLA for Regina Elphinstone Centre as our celebrity judges for this year’s fun. Bring your toonie to enter the sweat/slam or stop in to watch the words fly!
We’ve dedicated Wednesday night’s event to young people. Over at the Unitarian Centre (College Ave & Angus St) is the Saskatchewan Writers Guild‘s launch of Windscript Magazine, Volume 29, featuring readings of original works by award-winning high school writers. For the younger crowd, stop by RPL Connaught Branch Library to hear stories and traditional First Nations Legends from storyteller, Hazel Dixon.
The 3rd Annual Get Lit Cabaret taking place on Thursday night at The Artesian features some local writers’ groups, including the Phantasts, the 2012 Regina Slam Team and Too Legit to Quit as well as Saskatchewan Book Awards First Book Prize winner, Melanie Schnell. We are very pleased to host the Premiere of a multidisciplinary collaboration by Flamenco guitarist Peter Dickoff, poet, Bruce Rice and dancer, Robin Poitris! And we’ll have a full performance by Greg “Ritallin” Frankson, spoken word artist, and to close out the night, ArtStarts & the Local Onlyz, a 4-piece HipHop group.
Needless to say, we take Friday off to recuperate! Then to end the week we take part in the Saturday Streetfair from our Literary Tent (empty lot, 13th Ave & Retallack). This year, we’re starting with a FlashMob Photo Op and invite everyone who loves to write to show up at the tent at 11 a.m. to be part of it. Bring a piece of writing or your book to wave at the camera! We’ll catch up with the Streetfair Parade as it passes by on 13th Ave, just after 11:30. After that, it’s back to the Literary Tent for author readings by Anne McDonald, June Mitchell, Jayne Whyte, Randy Lundy, Lynn Gidluck, Laurier Gareau, Cassidy McFadzean, Bridget Keating and Coby Stephenson! And, for the entire event, the Book Table so that you can purchase and take home books by the authors.
Like I said, it’s gonna be fun! And if literary’s not your thing, well, there are a lot of other events taking place throughout the week. It’s the best and busiest week of the year in my neighbourhood! Check it out!
The first, an invitation to participate as a guest poet at Creating in the Qu’Appelle, a 2.5 day creative writing workshop for youth, came as a surprise. When making arrangements to work in Lumsden High School during the residency, the Creative Writing teacher, Heather Winter, asked if I’d like to participate in the event. I’d heard about this fantastic writing camp for youth a few years ago in conversation with former Saskatchewan poet, Jennifer Still. A regular on faculty at C in the Q, she could not say enough about how wonderful it is! So I gave Heather an immediate YES!
Sanctioned, but not greatly publicized, by the Prairie Valley School Division, and funded by the school division, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, Coteau Books, Lumsden High School, and the Lumsden Cultural Council, this event saw 40 students from across the province come together for instruction and support in writing prose, poetry and songs. Along with Jennifer, three other artists served on the faculty. Chris Fisher, from Lumsden, provided expertise on writing fiction. Michelle Muir, a Toronto-based spoken word artist, covered performance art. And Little Miss Higgins, from Nokomis SK, was the singer/songwriter on faculty.
The faculty had done their work. I walked through the doors of the Dallas Valley Ranch Camp’s main entrance and felt the energy right away. It was electric! Dallas Valley sits on the edge of the Qu’Appelle Valley, that sacred land on which Saskatchewan writers have a bit of a tradition hanging out. The young people were on supper break, hanging around the tables talking and laughing. Some played card games. Others sat, feet up, taking it all in. In the main room downstairs, a few played guitars and sang, not a whole song, but part of one I didn’t recognize. Still, I had to stop myself from joining in with a descant line that called me. Everything I witnessed was strong evidence of a solid community in place. It felt, immediately, like a safe place to practice art.
And practice art they did! 30 individuals — students and some of the teacher support staff — took turns standing at the front of the room to present their work. I recognized a handful of the students as those I’d worked with in Heather’s classroom during the residency, some whose work I’d published in the chapbook, TALES FROM THE LAKE. Oh, there were some great lines, lines I wish I’d written! I also wish I’d had the good sense to write a few down for future reference. I was struck by the presentation skills of a few of the students, too. Courageous and fantastic presenters, they could give a few writers I know a lesson in presentation skills. Oh, and that song, when they put the whole thing together, well, it brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful!
I feared my talk and reading, in which I focused on my grandmother and land poems and an excerpt from my Wolverine Creek essay, would pale in comparison. But I gave it my all and hope that someone found something they needed in it. I started by inviting them to help me work through Notes Toward Goodbye: A Lullabye, which is a poem that’s becoming a song, I think. I asked them sing a chorus, “Rock me,” or give a bass line or echo words that I spoke. I liked the chorus, think I should have given more direction for the bass line — or more freedom — and loved their eagerness! It felt so good to be nurturing young writers; it always does.
Actually, it doesn’t matter what age the writers are. Any time I can encourage others in their writing, I try to do so. And that brings me to my second spin-off of the residency. A group of women regularly attended the classes I offered at the LMLCC. Last night, we had the first meeting of the writing group that formed as a result of it. Not only were we happy to see each other, visiting and laughing and sharing stories, but we also talked about writing and wrote. I think I may have an ice cream poem as a result. Another spin-off! The plan is to meet again in a month. And I’m looking forward to it because I’ll be at the beach, working on my writing, and wanting feedback on it, too.
One final thing, speaking of community… I attended the Creative NonFiction Collective’s Annual Conference and General Meeting at the Banff Centre last weekend. Because of the political nature of some of the material, I have posted my notes from it in a series of posts on my other blog, the regina mom.
The bees have found fulltime work in my back yard. At present they’re working on the white blossoms of the Nanking Cherry tree. Soon, they’ll be able to move to the neighbours’ apple trees and my ornamental plum tree.
While they’re busy with that, I’m busy preparing for a few events. My neighbourhood celebrates the 21st annual Cathedral Village Arts Festival beginning May 21 with a parade and a picnic in the park, followed by a stream of events throughout the week, and ending with the largest street fair in the province on May 26. Again this year, I’m the co-ordinator of literary events and hope to see many of you at them. I’ll again be hosting the Poetry Slam, which is always a lot of fun!
The following week, I head out of town for a road trip to Regina Beach and Bethune where I’ll work with some students at South Shore Elementary School and Clive Draycott Elementary School. I always look forward to school visits because they give me the opportunity to offer students something I wish I would have received when I was young and venturing into writing. The Saskatchewan Writers Guild must be commended for continuing this program year after year. It builds future writers, employs current ones and promotes the SWG all at the same time. It’s a win-win-win!
Details of the events are here.
In October, I’ll be making my way to the Maritimes for a couple of readings (details forthcoming), a couple of CD launches and a radio appearance as well as a stop in Ottawa to visit my daughter and give a reading with a group of writers I’ve met through various parts of the writing community, including two of the finest writing schools in the country, the Sage Hill Writing Experience and the Banff Centre.
It’ll be great to finally see eastern Canada as well as to meet and reconnect with singers and writers!
But before I do that, I’ll be celebrating the success of my new work! An unpublished excerpt from the young adult fiction I’ve written has netted me First Place in the Children’s Literature category of the Short Manuscript Awards sponsored by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild.
(Do you know how many entries I’ve sent to that competition over the years?)
To say I’m very excited to receive this recognition is an understatement. When I sat down to write this manuscript, I thought I was going to write a poem about divorce. But the voice of the main character, Chrissy, took over. I knew enough about writing to know that I needed to listen to the work, to let it guide me. And I did. The working title quickly became Crybaby. This work quite literally cried its way out of me. Needless to say, a theme running through Crybaby is the reclamation of crying as a healthy human capacity.
So, yes, of course I cried when I learned the work had placed first. I laughed and squealed and hollered, too. And I jumped up and down!
I feel quite privileged to be both a product and a beneficiary of the programs, services and other assorted offerings of the SWG. I’m thankful the judge, Janet McNaughton, saw fit to single out my work at this time. It’s a great vote of confidence! I’m also very grateful to have the support of the Canada Council for the Arts to work on this manuscript. And, I am truly honoured to be named a winner of a SWG Short Manuscript Award!
It’s been a long time coming!