I spent this morning (and part of this afternoon) with photographer Joel Silverstein at FACE School here in Montreal. We were there to work with Kristen O'Sullivan's Grade Eight English class -- and they were super!
Joel and I were at FACE thanks to a Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation project called Quebec Roots. Thanks to the project, two teams of writers and photographers will work with six classes across Quebec, helping students produce a chapter of text and photos for the 2012 edition of Quebec Roots: The Place Where I Live.
What made our group this morning so special was their energy and creativity -- and smarts! FACE is a fine arts school, and all of the students take music. Honestly, I could feel the talent in the room. Also, you may find this weird, but I've noticed that musicians have lovely slender fingers -- and guess what? Many of them did!!
Our goal today (besides discussing writing and photography in a general way) was to help the students come up with a theme for their chapter. We agreed to focus (note the photography term!) on music. They are going to try and structure their chapter around musical terms such as "Prelude" (the beginning), "Presto" (meaning quick!), and "Dissonance" (meaning conflict). I LOVE the idea and look forward to seeing how they manage to combine music, words and images!
As usual, I learned new things about photography! Joel told the class, "If something is not important to the scene, it detracts from the scene." I thought that that was not only a good photography tip, but also one that applies to writing. (Thanks, Joel!)
I'm beginning to learn the names of some of the students. One student named Cynthia is working on developing a character in a futuristic story. Cynthia stayed during the break to chat with me. Her character is 16 or 17, but behaves as if she's younger. I suggested to Cynthia she try to figure out why that might be (has she been coddled by her parents? was she late to develop, making her look younger than her classmates?). A student named Olive said she has many story ideas, and that sometimes, that's a problem: "my ideas are all piling up." I really like that image, Olive -- it reminds me of a traffic jam of ideas!! A student named Kali stole my heart when she told me she'd come to school today, even with a bad headache: "I came to school for you!" And let's just say there are lots of other stories and storytellers in Room 308 at FACE. I so look forward to working with you guys and reading your work.
Three cheers today for Blue Met, for Miss O'Sullivan's class, and for Miss O'Sullivan!
Be sure to visit the Quebec Roots website in the next day or two. Joel took some pics of the class in action (which he'll post) and I'll do a separate blog entry there. And check back here to read about next week's trip to the Gaspé, to meet another class participating in this year's Quebec Roots project.