Spring 2012 Writer in Residence: Brian Brett
Cortes Island Elementary Junior Secondary School
Brian Brett, the award-winning author of Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Urban Life, was Writer in Residence at Cortes Island Elementary Junior Secondary School in March 2012. As the founder of the BC Poetry-In-The-Schools program, which introduces children in schools across the province to world poetry, Brian was a great match for the grade five to seven students he mentored. The students started off the week by playing him a spoken word performance video and discussing whether this was poetry or not.
Over the course of his week-long mentorship, Brian aimed to give the students and overview of world literature and open their eyes to the way that others perceive the world. Principal Darlene Smith appreciated Brian’s ability to expand her students’ perspectives:
“Brian Brett’s five days on Cortes Island resulted in a cultural world tour of poetry for 22 grade five to seven students. Beginning in British Columbia with local aboriginal song and celebrations, north to the arctic, and then traveling through remote African villages, the far East and back again to modern North America to visit Spoken Word and poetry slams; Brian personified the art and function of poetry and made a real impact on the children."
Encouraging students in their quest for knowledge is what Brian aims to do with his school visits:
“On several occasions I’ve encountered a student years later, telling me how hearing the music and the poetry and the stories of the world influenced their own adventures with words. That’s the best part of teaching to my mind. I remember the teacher who lured me away from a bad path and set me off on a new life in literature. I would have probably ended up in jail without that teacher. Now forty years later the seeds he planted have grown and I am now scattering those same seeds to our children.”