Writer in Residence, Fall 2010
Shauntay Grant, Nova Scotia’s Poet Laureate, award winning author, acclaimed spoken-word poet and CBC broadcaster wove her magic in Trail, B.C. as this year’s Writer in Residence, October 25 – 29. “Most of the students had never seen or heard a live ‘spoken word poet’ before,” says Marilyn Lunde, teacher librarian at J.L. Crowe Secondary, who “was over the moon to have an opportunity to have a writer in residence within School District 20.” She has been teaching in Trail for over 30 years and, “this is the first time [she] can recall that [students in Trail, B.C.] have been afforded this opportunity.”
Shauntay mentored one Grade 12 class every day, made presentations to elementary schools and to a class at Rossland Secondary, as well as meeting with the Columbia River writers group and hip hop dance class. She says, “One of the hugest gifts for me is being able to work with youth . . . to go into schools with my own curriculum and what I want to share, and get them to trust their voices and to trust that they can create poetry.”
The poetry workshops held by Shauntay inspired students “to write the way they speak,” and to take inspiration from their own lives. She bestowed upon students at J.L Crowe Secondary the belief, “that your life is your best story” and, “once you take that to heart and believe it, [writing] is so much easier.” The effect this message had on her students is articulated by Marilyn, who explains, “Shauntay built the confidence in them to trust their voices. The fact that students feel they can now write from their hearts, hear their own voices and be able to share ideas, is more than we could have expected in such a short period of time.”
According to Marilyn, “Shauntay provided exposure to an outside world beyond the mountain ranges that we live between. This is the number one sports town in BC. It is also an industrial blue-collar town…the arts come second at best. We work hard to ensure students have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a “good” read and to encourage their written skills. Shauntay allowed students to look outside the academic constructs of writing and rigid rule-ridden formats, and write from what they know and that it was okay.”
The Writer-in-Residence program is supported by the Michael R. Shaw Outreach Program.
About the Michael R. Shaw Fund
Michael R. Shaw was a young man who loved the outdoors and whose life was cut short when he and some of his classmates were taken by an avalanche in BC in 2003. The Michael R. Shaw Fund was established through the generosity of the Woodward family and the Festival is honoured to lend Michael's name to the program