Wednesday 30 March 2011

Somehow I Think

The older I get and the later in my teaching career, the happier I am to honour my teachers.

(Here I pause to note an idea for my class today: get my students to write about their favourite teachers, pre-university.)

(When I do that myself I come up with only fragments: the grade 2 teacher whose first name was Rose, the ex-trumpet playing wisecracker who taught grade7, the long-legged looker Miss Kehoe in grade 9, my typing teacher Miss Fawcett who showed us individual finger exercises. Somehow, I think, out of cowardice or willful resistance or being a teacher's kid myself, I didn't let my pre-uni teachers inspire me.)

Fred Wah was in town yesterday. I've said this before: I thank my lucky skies to have had Fred and Tom Wayman and Dave McFadden as my first creative writing teachers 30 years ago this fall at the late, great David Thompson University Centre in Nelson, B.C. About as different from one another as three writers could be, they hauled us in every direction, writing-wise. Everything I write comes from what those three got us doing.

Last night, at his reading, I introduced Fred to my creative writing students, proud to do so.

Sunday 27 March 2011

Literary Award

I managed to score a 2nd in the 2010 CBC Literary Award, poetry category, second to some lovely work by Brian Brett.

As Brian and I noted, the poet winners are more or less 60, the nonfiction winners more or less 40, the short story winners more or less 24.

And I managed to pick up a stomach wog--could have been the chicken souvlaki at Pearson, about 10:30 Wednesday night, between delays 2 and 3 of the 5 I experienced on Air Canada that day, turning the Regina to Montreal flights into a 12-hour hassle I'm only today recovering from.

But the party in Montreal was swell. If CBC, Air Canada, and the Canada Council can't throw a party, who can. The writers were rather strangely peripheral, though. Our role in the soiree was limited to a 10-second walk across the stage to shake hands with Shelagh Rogers--and, oh yes, with the Canada Council person who handed over our cheques. We writers agreed that we were sufficiently pacified by the cheques to remain in the background the rest of the time, while the corporate sponsors enjoyed what was really their moment.

I do salute these sponsors for what, judging by the size of the cheque and the amount of media attention we've received, is a significant commitment to the literary arts. We were well taken care of in Montreal and it was fun to meet the other writers.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Loco Log

Dedicated followers of this blog--hello Uncle Ritchie and Aunt Phyll--will want an update on my loco log, my haphazard listing of Canadian Pacific locomotives--where I saw them and what they were up to.

The other day at 3:42 pm I spotted 3083 and 3110, back to back, shuttling back and forth over the Albert street overpass in Regina. That makes 46 locomotives in the last four years, anywhere from here to Rogers Pass. Just the ones I've been close enough to, or my poor children have been close enough to, to read the locomotive number.

I'm going to keep at it, haphazardly, until I spot a locomotive for the second time, at which time I'll claim that at last I've found structure to my life: every _____ years I spot locomotive # _____.

Saturday 12 March 2011

I'd Give You My List (But You'd Know It's Mine)

Talking about "creating character" in my creative writing class, I let out with the claim that given an anonymous list of ten specific items in any one person's bedroom (a person in this class, that is), I could identify the person.  "We should do that," one of the students said. We swept over that--on with the task at hand of building character through details, not through generalizations of narration.

Fine, but a half hour after class I thought damn, we should have gone ahead with that bedroom thing. So I tacked that on, via our class message board, to the assignment for Tuesday. At the same time, I composed my own list. 

All that's left in this story, apart from whatever results show up on Tuesday, is me wondering whether or not this is too personal a thing. Creepy, maybe. Offensive, illegal. Out of bounds.

So far, four lists have been posted.

Monday 7 March 2011

After Talking Fresh

I really enjoyed my students at Talking Fresh.  New to the writing world, most of them, they caught four terrific writers in action:
Brenda Schmidt
Michael Trussler and Karen Solie (photo by Shelley Banks)

Daniel Scott Tysdal

These writers delivered ideas, laughs, good company, inspiration, books, various styles and discourses, and splendid appetites for wine, food and what we all had to say. I'm so happy my students could hear them.