High School Talent

I was honoured to be invited to visit Stephanie Leechik-Belonio’s terrific grade 11 class at my alma mater, Eric Hamber Secondary, on May 3 through the wonderful Writers in the Classroom Program organized by the Vancouver Writers’ Festival!

I was delighted and impressed by the draft poems that some of the students shared with me that were generated by the in-class writing exercise. (She’ll be forwarding me some more poems to comment on soon too!)

Stephanie prepared the class in advance by showing a couple of my poetry videos made in collaboration with recent animation graduates of Emily Carr University of Art & Design (“Omelet” and “Plasticnic“). I described my journey as a writer and the position of poet laureate, and read a few poems. I also talked about the revision process, establishing a sustainable writing practice, doing public readings and publishing your work. At the end of the session, there were lots of excellent questions during the Q & A. It was a lively exchange!

When I attended Hamber from grade 8 to grade 12 decades ago, the lockers were painted orange and yellow, but everything else was the same–the office, the showcases in the main foyer, the names of top students in athletics, citizenship, academics. (I wasn’t a star in anything, by the way–just a geeky, nerdy, socially awkward introvert who wrote a lot of morbid and angsty poems.) I’m pretty sure I had a class or two in Room 209 too (probably French with Mr. Herring.) A new earthquake-proof building is being built where the track used to be, so this current building probably won’t be around too long. The demographics of the student body and faculty appear to be quite different too than when I was there.

Thanks to Leena Desai, the Senior Education and Development Coordinator at the Vancouver Writers’ Festival, for facilitating the visit and for taking photos! I’m looking forward to visiting Magee next week.