Artist Thomas Kneubuhler and I spent the morning with MIss Jackson's Genesis class at Lindsay Place High School. We were there to launch this year's edition of Quebec Roots, a Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation educational program that teams up pairs of writers and photograhers with students across the province of Quebec.
The Genesis students will be contributing a chapter to this year's edition of Quebec Roots. Thomas (that's him sitting next to me in today's pic) and I will be helping students use images and words to tell their stories.
One thing's for sure -- these students have plenty of stories. Genesis is a small alternative program, and for many of the students, Genesis represents a new beginning. One of our goals today was to come up with a topic for their chapter -- and they chose "Genesis: new beginnings." One student volunteered to research the biblical story of Genesis, and write something about that for the chapter; a group of students are going to interview John, the person who founded the Genesis program more than thirty years ago. Sounds interesting, don't you think?
I covered some writing pointers, and Thomas shared some photography tips. I always like when writing and photography intersect. Thomas warned the students to avoid taking blurry photographs. I couldn't help jumping in to explain that using precise, detailed language keeps a piece of writing from being vague and blurry. When Thomas told the students to avoid using the flash when possible -- I was tempted to jump in and say "Avoid adverbs when you write!" -- but I felt I couldn't over-do my jumping in!!
When I talked about the necessity of re-writing, I told the students that I hate my own first drafts. A student named Elektra called out, "I feel you." That could be a sign that you're a writer too, Elektra!
A student named Daniel told me, "I hate getting into detail." I tried my best to make Daniel change his mind. I tried to explain that details (not too many, not too few!) make our writing come alive. And you know what? I think my lesson might have sunk in because when I was circulating around the room, looking at what the students had written, I read something beautiful and moving and DETAILED by... you'll never guess! DANIEL!
He wrote: "I'm getting a highway tattoo to always remind myself to keep moving forward."
See what I meant about detail?
Looking forward to working with the Genesis students -- and to seeing their photographs and stories. Special thanks to Blue Met's Fréderick Gaudin-Laurin for accompanying us today; and to teacher Miss Jackson for being fabulous and sharing her students with us.
Here's to new beginnings for all of us!