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BC Book Prizes On Tour

April 17, 2015

Driving the Peace

Right: back from the Peace and settled down again – though I’m thinking of Gabrielle, Kayla and Bryan out there on the road.
I had a great tour. The air was fresh, the scenery was beautiful and the students in the schools were really sweet: a bit cautious maybe but interested in writing and curious about how a person becomes an actual ‘writer.’ All told it was a whirlwind 4 days on the road with Bryan (the mastermind behind Rebus Creative and the BC Book Prize tour and gala) and (the very funny and smart) Gabrielle Prendergast who is up for the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize. Together we visited 8 schools (Gabrielle was at the elementary schools and I was in the high schools), did a handful of interviews as well as running a workshop for adults at the very hospitable Fort St. John library. It wasn’t all work though: we also spotted hawks and deer, stood on the banks of the beautiful Peace river, slid down a waterslide in the Pomeroy hotel – okay that was just me – and visited museums, bars and numerous restaurants (getting tofu in a tasty dish in Dawson Creek was awesome).

My favourite part of this tour (I was lucky enough to do the Northern leg of the BC Book prize tour back in 2002-ish) was hearing the high school students’ responses when asked to identify 5 things they know a lot about and 5 things they don’t know a lot about but are interested in. This exercise was from the part of my talk where I try to explain that the adage ‘write what you know’ is really limiting… one just has to know what one is writing about, hence the value of curiousity and research. Up in the Peace schools, it was the range of responses that was exciting: some kids up there already know a lot about sports or fishing and some know about fashion or movies or chemistry. The range of things they said they were interested in knowing more about was also vast: from astrophysics to Greek history to cooking. If there’s anything I try to communicate at these talks it’s the importance of curiousity and the value of starting to develop a sense of your own self-worth and the value of your own interests and your own knowledge… no matter how boring it seems to you no one knows what you know in the way that you know it. Anyway, that was my favourite bit: getting a snapshot of their lives and learning from them. (I sense that for some of them their favourite moment was hearing about my experience on the film set of the movie version of Stay… though a few of them also seemed to like hearing about John Guare’s play Six Degrees of Separation and the theory that we’re all linked by a very small number of degrees.)

Anyway, I started this blog at the airport – the three of us were tired and had returned to our technologies (Bryan was checking his e-mail, I was drafting this blog and Gabrielle (who was frightfully smart all week) was saying – rather enthusiastically – ‘I just can’t get enough of cat videos…’ so the world was folding back in on us in our busy-ness.

I loved being in the Peace. The company was great (we talked a lot about writing and literary politics and growing up and where we felt most at home in the world) and the idea of touring as writers was exciting in a twittery world where presencing writers in their actual bodies happens less and less. In Fort St. John we took a pile of books out of the library to learn something about the history of the region as we were driving (I read out loud from the back seat). The Peace is a really vital part of the country (Hudsons’ Hope was the third oldest settlement in Canada and Dawson Creek was named after the ‘father of Canadian anthropology’). I’m grateful to the BC Book prizes for allowing me to see this part of the province in such good company. Thanks to the sponsors too, this wouldn’t have been possible without you.

Aislinn Hunter

Posted by Aislinn Hunter | Filed under: Peace River Leg 2015 | 0 Comments | Permalink

April 11, 2015

For the “Weird” Kid

You know who you are.
The kid who talks too much
Or too little.
The kid for whom words
Flick and flip like fish
Struggling upstream
The pink haired
Mismatched sneakered kid.
Yes, you
Pierced and pale
Or brown and silent
The one shrinking from the world
Or too loudly deconstructing it.
The one that makes the other kids
Roll their eyes
And sigh.
“Oh this again,” they mutter
As though they know you
Better than you know yourself.
This small offering is for you:
Look up
Through the stringy bangs
Over the tinted glasses
Across the jungle of classmates
Who tolerate you, begrudgingly
Because that’s the fashion now.
Take a look at me
The funny, round faced author
Rendered twitchy by hotel coffee
And nerves.
With my fishy words,
My oddly colored hair
The splotchy cardigan
Awkward shoes, granny glasses
And high school stories
Not very well disguised as fiction.
See how happy I am?

Posted by Gabrielle Prendergast | Filed under: Peace River Leg 2015 | 0 Comments | Permalink

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