Saturday, 26 July 2008

Tonight in Saskatchewan

I've had my toot with the writers tonight and now I'm home.

I was babbling on one of two themes: the way the local tends to be overlooked by those who are local, and the plague of fantasy/scifi for young readers and writers.

The latter is a provocative sentiment, of course. Seriously, I'd like to open a dialogue on this matter. It goes something like this. I just finished a week as Instructor of the Sage Hill Teen Writing Experience. All 8 kids, ages 14-16, were experienced readers and writers. For most of them, that meant experience, including with the previous Instructor of the Regina SAge Hill teen program, with fantasy and scifi. When I encouraged them to represent their real world, the one that only they, each one of them, could represent, it was new territory. When I wanted to see their world, each of them, in writing, I had to find a way around the default fantasy/scifi orientation. That's a problem, I'd say.

The other theme I babbled on about this evening at Bushwakker was about how somebody should be writing about Saskatchewan writers. As several people have pointed out, perhaps I should be doing more of such writing myself, positioned as I am as a tenured professor in a Saskatchewan university. True enough. But for now, my point is that many of us still hold to the assumption that if it's local, it's just local, or regional, and that therefore if we pay any kind of systematic critical attention to it, we're revealing ourselves to be mere cheerleaders, or mere provincial hacks.

For me, these two themes are linked. Even as readers, never mind as poets or critical writers, we think that we must find ourselves elsewhere, we must define ourselves in terms of how we fit into so-called "universal" paradigms. (That's not quite what I mean, but I'll leave it there for now.)

All that aside, it was just darn fun to hang with Ariel G., Roewen C., CHris R., Jeanette L, Tracy H., Andy S., Katherine R., Nathalie T., and others this evening. I was tuckered out from a week with the Sage Hill teens and also before that from the weekend in Moose Jaw. And now I feel better.

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