To serve as the inaugural literary artist-in-residence at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre was a great gift! It allowed me to do three things I love to do: share what I’ve learned, build community, and write. Ok, four things– hanging out at the beach, but in a way very different from what I’m used to! It was an honour and a privilege to give what little I could to a unique rural community.
Though I hesitate to call it a real residency because of the shortness of the term and being unable to reside in the area I did spend the better part of a month in the Regina Beach/Buena Vista/Lumsden area and experienced the exquisite hospitality of the locals. Unfortunately, I was unable to make a solid contact in Bethune. A month is a short time to get to know a community, let alone three or four. And then there was the weather!
Still, I feel as though the residency, as limited and short-term as it was, was a success. I met the goals of engaging the community in the written word by participating in classes, utilizing the one-on-one Storybooth Studio sessions and contributing to the TALES FROM THE LAKE chapbook. The chapbook launch saw more than 30 people in attendance. And, though I spent more time than I had committed to on the community project, I did get a suite of six poems more or less worked out. I have since misplaced the new piece I read at the launch and hope it turns up somewhere!
The project had a positive impact on me in that it gave me a stronger sense of myself as a professional writer. As I’ve said to some of my writer friends, I feel like a big kid in the writing community now! Also important to me personally, especially, is my deepened connection to Last Mountain Lake. Prior to this my experiences with the lake had been summertime ones. This helped me to remember and experience winter with Last Mountain Lake. Professionally, the residency pushed me to not only refine my abilities as a teacher/facilitator and editor, but also to explore my capacity as a community builder. I hope I had a positive impact on the community, overall, and that the writing community there grows and flourishes. There are some fine writers in the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre’s communities and some young ones to watch out for!
Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other residency opportunities. It really was a dream come true, to serve a community in this way.