Writer in Residence: Fall 2011

Fall 2011 Writer in Residence: Alan Cumyn
Sea View School, Port Alice, BC

“It was a fabulous week! Alan’s readings from The Secret Life of Owen Skye brought chuckles and knowing smiles from staff and students.  His passion for writing was contagious and even the imaginations of reluctant writers were ignited.  Stories filled with drama and humour filled page after page as ideas poured from the students. A week of writing and reading with Alan was truly inspirational and so motivating.”

Gail Henderson

Teacher, Sea View School

Alan Cumyn, author of 11 novels, winner of the Mr. Christie’s Book Award for Children’s Literature and nominee for the Governor General’s Literature Award and the Giller Prize, wove his word magic in Port Alice, BC as this fall’s Writer in Residence.

Sea View teacher Gail Henderson says, “Having Alan Cumyn as Writer in Residence was a wonderful opportunity for the students at Sea View to develop their literacy skills from a published author.  How fantastic to write, read and tell stories with an author of his caliber. It was an exciting, entertaining and creative week that has further promoted literacy skills among my students. Thank you to the Vancouver International Writers Festival for providing Sea View with a week-long residency.”

Of his time in Port Alice, Cumyn writes, “I really enjoyed sharing my passion for stories with the students at Sea View. Long ago, when I was in high school, writer Judith Merril gave a reading at my school and inspired me to change the direction of my life. I hope I was able to do the same for a student in Port Alice.”

Cumyn is an Ottawa-based writer who teaches through the prestigious Writing for Children and Young Adults Master of Fine Arts program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a past chair of the Writers Union of Canada. During his time in Port Alice, Cumyn mentored a class of students in grade six, seven, eight and nine, conducted a writing workshop for students in grade three, four and five and gave a reading to students in kindergarten and grades one and two.

Cumyn continued to mentor three students online thanks to the support of Amazon.ca. Stories by Sea View students Hailey Tiberghien, Becca Spafford and Tanner Roberts, who received six weeks of mentorship from Alan Cumyn, are available here.

The Vancouver International Writers Festival’s Spreading the Word Schools program offers two writer-in-residence programs each year to communities that cannot attend the festival because of geographic and/or economic limitations and is supported by Amazon and the Michael R. Shaw Outreach Fund.  This year as well, CABC (Celebration of Authors, Books and Children) is assisting with accommodation during the Writer in Residence stay.