There was no school this morning at Isummavik School here in Quaqtaq, Nunavik. But because artist Thomas Kneubuhler and I were getting a little worried about our assignment – we’re here to help students contribute a chapter of words and photos to this year’s edition of Quebec Roots, a Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation project – we got Cameron, one of the kids’ teachers, to put out an all-points-bulletin. Cameron let the kids know we were here at the Landholding Hotel – and available for writing and photography workshops!
So I was pretty thrilled when a student named Ashley turned up! YAY ASHLEY! Together, we worked on a whole pile of GORGEOUS POEMS. Our theme for the chapter is boys and girls in Quaqtaq. One of Ashley’s poems is about picking blueberries in summer. In the poem, she explains that the boys only go berry picking if it’s a school activity.
When we finished our work together, I asked Ashley to tell me one thing she’d learned about writing today. Her answer? “I learned we have to go over it again and again.” YAY AGAIN FOR ASHLEY! I love that lesson. It’s basically at the heart of all good writing.
Before I let Ashley go home for lunch, I told her my main advice for her as a writer: “Trust your own voice.” We saw that together when she was working on her poem about relationships. Ashley gave me permission to quote some of the poem here:
“What I know about relationships I have mostly learned from watching my parents and grandparents. I’ve learned: don’t hurt the person you love, don’t leave them alone for long, and always try to make them happy. The people we love should do the same for us. If the person we love hurts us, or leaves us alone for long, or doesn’t try to make us happy, we should … I don’t know … maybe dump them!”
Can’t you hear Ashley’s voice just from reading her words? You know what my favourite part is? – besides the lessons – it’s when Ashley says, “I don’t know.” Because that’s Ashley’s voice.
Ahh, it’s been a lovely start to the day here in Quaqtaq. Thanks to Ashley, and to her mum for telling her she had to come to the Landholding Hotel to work with us!