On January 20, 2022, I visited the Downtown Eastside Writers Collective for their weekly Thursday gathering at the Carnegie Centre. Led by member Gilles Cyrenne, the group writes together in response to writing prompts, and then shares their work. This time, we focused on specific sites in Vancouver. I set out a number of images of historic Vancouver sites for them to choose to write about (each image had a descriptive paragraph on the back). I also brought some wonderful map guides of Chinatown, the Japanese area of downtown and the west side of downtown produced by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation. The brochures included photos of specific heritage buildings and their historical background. I ended the session with a discussion of how poetry differs from prose in the use of imagery, sound and structure, and ways of varying lines to engage readers.
Last November when I visited the group, we used the prompts “home” and “not home”, which led to some powerful draft pieces. At the end of that session, I shared some pointers about revising poems.
By the way, the Carnegie Centre is one of Vancouver’s historic heritage buildings. Did you know there’s a stained glass window featuring three legendary English poets of note?