Held at the Mir Centre for Peace on the Castlegar Campus on Saturday, October 26, Creative Writing students from Selkirk College spent the afternoon putting pen to paper in workshops with graduate students in EWU’s Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing.
“We just love this partnership,” says Leesa Dean, Selkirk College Creative Writing instructor. “The graduate students, though based in Spokane, come from all over the USA and bring with them different perspectives and different approaches to literature. They fill the room—and our students’ minds—with energy and inspiration.
Creative Writing Instructor Leesa Dean (centre) connects with students during A Stone's Throw Writing Symposium taking place at the Mir Centre for Peace on the Castlegar Campus.
Student Chantal Lunardi, who commutes from Riondel every week to attend the Creative Writing night class in Nelson says, “Being close to other writers creates a sort of magic we don’t always understand. All these opportunities create connections and a supportive network of authors, friends, publishing platforms that give me the feeling of belonging and the courage to challenge myself.”
The local symposium was organized in partnership with Get Lit!, a non-profit literary arts organization housed within Eastern Washington University. They host the annual Get Lit! Festival which has been taking place every April in Spokane for 22 years.
“Empowering creativity through mentorship is important,” says Kate Peterson, Director of Get Lit! Programs. “While our students are honing their craft, many are also studying to teach creative writing, so this is a really amazing experience for them to share their knowledge while also getting the chance to teach something they are very passionate about.”
Inspired by Get Lit!, which strives to make their festival financially accessible, A Stone’s Throw was free for students taking Creative Writing 100 and Creative Writing 200 in the School of University Arts & Sciences at Selkirk College.
Students were able to choose between three workshops depending on their area of interest: Exploring Universal Themes in Personal Non-fiction; Harnessing the Power of Images in Fiction and Being Bold with Poetic Impulses. The intimate environment allowed for a personal learning experience for the 40 attending participants.
“The micro workshops were brilliantly put together and delivered with the MFA students,” says student Carina Costom who took the poetry workshop. “
The EWU students in attendance were Michael Dundrea, Caitlin Feldman, Micaela Gerhardt, Patrick Jeffries, Gregory Scheiber, Sierra Sitzes, Kimberly Sheridan, Danielle Torpey, Claire Walla and Haley Ward.
“I appreciate the opportunity to share the art of storytelling with anyone who's eager to delve into the craft," said Walla, a first-year nonfiction student at EWU. "And the community of writers at Selkirk College is alive with a passion for storytelling that's both inspiring and unique -- I left having learned much more than I set out to teach.”
Selkirk College’s Creative Writing classes are fully transferable to universities across Canada. Registration for the winter semester opens December 1 and all classes are open to community members.