The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Meet Me in Victoria, Victor*

by Tricia Dower

I had just moved into my Victoria home in 2006 when virtual writing buddy Denis Taillefer, far away in Quebec, told me a few spots were still open for the Victoria School of Writing’s summer school beginning the following week. The perfect cure for the I Miss My Friends and My House in Toronto Blues. I got into Charlotte Gill’s fiction workshop and had such a wonderful experience I attended the following year, too. (See Courageous Hearts and Workshopping Sex.)

So, here it is Year Three and, lo and behold, I'm now on the board of the non-profit VSW, and responsible for informing others about this year’s summer session. It begins the evening of July 20th and ends after a celebratory barbecue on the 25th. Tuition of $635 includes five days of workshops, readings, a one-on-one consultation with your instructor, five lunches, and the barbecue. More details and the registration form are here. There. Consider yourself informed.

For the first time ever we’re offering a graphica workshop, to be led by Vancouver artist Sarah Leavitt. Her MFA thesis was the first graphic narrative in the history of UBC’s creative writing program. Her drawings have been published by Modern Dog and Maisonneuve online and appear regularly in Geist. Leavitt also writes a monthly column for Xtra West. Those signing up for “Developing a Graphic Narrative” will do daily cartooning exercises and complete a short graphic narrative by the end of the course.

For us more wordy types, six other workshops are on offer:

  • “Fiction and the Truth,” with Steven Galloway who teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia. Galloway is the author of three novels, the most recent The Cellist of Sarajevo.
  • “Why Memoir?” with Edmonton’s Curtis Gillespie, author of Crown Shyness and three other books. He has received The Danuta Gleed Award for fiction and three National Magazine Awards for non-fiction.
  • “Writing Deeply,” creative non-fiction with Winlaw, BC, journalist, documentary writer, playwright, and author Rita Moir. Her books have won several awards, including BC’s Hubert Evans Non-fiction Prize. Her most recent book is The Windshift Line: A Father and Daughter’s Story.
  • “The Lovely Hybrid,” a workshop on short fiction with Salt Spring Island’s Kathy Page, author of six novels, including The Story of My Face, which was long-listed for the Orange Prize, and Alphabet, which was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award. Page teaches part-time at Malaspina University College.
  • “When the Shadows of the Heart Lift,” a poetry workshop with Victoria’s Susan Stenson, teacher and author of three books—the most recent My Mother Agrees with the Dead. Her work rides the buses throughout British Columbia as part of “Poetry in Transit.”
  • “From Idea to Proposal to Manuscript to Book,” with Victoria’s Rosemary Neering, the author of more than forty non-fiction books for adults, teens, and children. Her book, Wild West Women: Travellers, Adventurers and Rebels, won the VanCity book prize for 2002.

Especially satisfying about the two sessions I attended was the feeling of community with writers. You spend each day on the campus of a private girls’ school – a peaceful place with lots of grass and the occasional deer. (Rumours are that those who stayed in the dorms got up to some serious partying at night.) You hear all students read from their work, not just the writers in your workshop. And spending five days with an accomplished faculty is a gift that keeps on giving: I’m still in touch with several instructors who continue to support and encourage me.

So meet me in Victoria this summer. I’ll happily stuff an enrollment kit for you. (I’m learning the meaning of “working board.”)

*Doesn’t have half the cachet of “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis,” does it?

Photos: Faculty of the 13th Annual Victoria School of Writing Intensive Summer Session. Clockwise, from top left: Kathy Page, Rita Moir (credit Fred Rosenberg), Rosemary Neering, Sarah Leavitt, Steven Galloway, Curtis Gillespie, and Susan Stenson.


Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Sounds like it would be a blast. Maybe next year for me.

Thu Apr 24, 12:53:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

That would be great, Andrew. Any western region writers you'd like to see lead a workshop next year?

Thu Apr 24, 04:07:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger T. Lee said...

You're on the board now? Wow, you are a mover-and-shaker. It looks like a good program.

Fri Apr 25, 02:11:00 am GMT-4  
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