monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

3 minutes reading time (566 words)

Morning in Chapais -- for Quebec Roots

So artist Thomas Kneubuhler and I weren't actually IN Chapais this morning -- but we will be there in about a month from now! Chapais, in case you didn't know it, is located in the Jamésie region of Quebec, near Chibougamau. This morning, we had an intoductory Zoom with English teacher Gabrielle Chouinard and her students at Ecole Le Filon. The group will be taking part in this year's edition of the Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation project Quebec Roots. Thomas and I will be teaching the students about photography (that's Thomas's specialty) and writing (that's where I come in).

This morning, we met Gabrielle's class and learned a little bit about them and Chapais. Chapais is a "young" town (if a town can be considered to have an age). It was founded in 1957, which makes it just three years older than me! I told you it was YOUNG! The kids hunt and fish -- though it's only the boys in the class who hunt. Two students, Léa and Lily-Jade enjoy writing. And at least one student -- Jacob -- has friends who are Cree and live in the nearby town of Oujé-Bougoumou. Jacob met these friends because they are fellow hockey players.

Thomas and I shared some of our tips of the trade. I told the students they'd need paper and pen to take notes. Which helps explain today's photo -- the class waving their papers at me! As for my tips, I explained how stories need TROUBLE, and how REWRITING is the key to good writing. Thomas talked about the importance of light. "Photography," he told the students, "is all about capturing light." He added that light matters no matter whether photographers are working with film, digital cameras, or even cellphones. He also told the class that photographers need to ask themselves, "What do you want to express?" Though I have worked with Thomas for many years, I find I always learn something new from him! I loved the part about considering what you want to express before you take a photo. I am going to try to ask myself the same question before I start writing tomorrow morning!

The students will need to come up with a topic for their chapter. This morning, we brainstormed ideas. What's important is that the topic matters to the students. If it matters, they'll produce better writing and take better photos. For now, we decided to play around with the topic of "Nothing to do." We'll see how that goes. Personally, I have found that having nothing to do can be boring, but it can also be amazing. Not just because it's relaxing, but also because it sometimes to leads to good ideas! Jacob told us he has lots to do -- so I suggested he try writing a kind of rap-poem about all the stuff he's got to do.

And I just had a funny idea. You know how people are always talking about TO DO LISTS? That makes me wonder what a NOTHING TO DO LIST would look like!! Gabrielle, if you and the class are reading this, why don't you put that title on the board and see what the class comes up with?

So stay tuned for more news from Chapais -- and from me and Thomas. We're super excited to be teamed up again for this year's edition of Quebec Roots!


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Monday, 24 June 2024

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