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The UBC Faculty of Law newsletter has a write-up of our Writers Caravan experience with the UBC Law students. Thanks to all who participated in uniting the writing communities. Although we had planned the Writers Caravan to be a one-off, plans are brewing to collaborate with UBC law again in the 2011/2012 course year.



Our pilot project is celebrating a culmination on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 7pm at Vancouver’s Roundhouse Community Centre. Four writing groups – UBC Law students, 2011 Writer’s Studio members, Write Club Literary Mamas and Thursdays Writing Collective are uniting for the first time. We have written together one-on-one and read on double bills throughout the spring but this will be the night all the groups and participants hear each other’s writing and reconnect. Join us!


Thanks to the City of Vancouver, Canada Council, Roundhouse Community Centre and Poetry is Dead for their support.



On Monday night May 16, 2011 members of Thursdays Writing Collective crossed town for a reading at Westside Family place at 11th and McDonald hosted by Write Club, a group of literary mothers formed off their experience with the Momoir project. The childcare centre was a warm setting for our joint reading, which was thoughtfully hosted by Sara Graefe and Jane Swinglehurst. The adult audience sat on couches and  perched on toddler chairs while the readers kept it short, sweet, insightful and revealing.

Thursdays readers included Anne Young, Antonette Rea, Patrick Foley, Don Charters, Joan Morelli. Patrick had the place in stitches as he read his piece about a renegade watermelon, Anne described a bucolic visit to Vancouver Island as child and the beauty of rural life, Don read an excerpt from a longer piece about “concrete cave dwellers,”  and Antonette performed two spoken word pieces, one about global warming. Joan belted it out with two poems about self-esteem. Applause was effusive.

The Write Club readers had many of us groaning in sympathy about the lengths to which mothers must go for their sanity. Megan Frazer, Maia Gibb, Sara Graefe, Tanya Hansen, Jill Imrie, Liesl Jurock, and Jane Swinglehurst touched on guilt, dirt, sleeplessness, biases against queer parenting and overcompensation through elaborate cupcake construction.

For many Thursdays participants these pieces about parenting were gentle reminders of their own years with children. Several members in the discussion mentioned the importance of enjoying the trying moments while you can.

chapbooks were sold...

It was certainly a step out of our neighbourhood to be surrounded by the toys and sandboxes and concerns about naptimes but the Write Club bridged any gaps with a warm and engaging welcome. Hosts Sara and Jane made us all feel at home and they provided a bounty of snacks and beverages for breaktime.

Our hosts, Sara and Jane, doing some social writing

After the last reader we did two social writing prompts chosen randomly from a list of phrases that had popped out of each individual reading. The two were, “that watermelon really picked up speed,” from Patrick’s piece and “watchful crows,” from Antonette’s. Thanks to the dads in the audience for jumping in to share their writing with us, too! And thank you, too, for the candid remarks about what this night of writing forged in terms of bonds between two distinct demographics. This reading epitomized the Writers Caravan goal of forging community through writing together.

happy social writers!

Sign up at Carnegie for one-on-one editing sessions with the guest authors while spaces are available!

Thursdays Writing Collective member Henry Doyle has been busy lately. Not only are his pieces getting published almost as fast as he can write them, but he is the subject of a 7 minute documentary in support of Megaphone magazine, a vital resource for Vancouver’s DTES writers and the vendors who hand sell the publication. Please consider donating to Megaphone to support their writers’ workshops and training. Check Rita Jasper’s blog for more details. She’s the activist and artist who made the film.

Congratulations to the Writers Caravan participants who read at Take 5 Café on Friday, April 15, 2010. They were astounding. Thanks to Lai Fung, Henry and Irit from Thursdays Writing Collective and to Rua, Dhana, Meg and Yaana from SFU’s Writer’s Studio for sharing their interesting pieces with the audience.

Diane LeClaire and Lai Fung Leung prepare for the reading

They all made an impact on us with their thoughts and the beautiful ways they articulated such different ideas.

Yaana from TWS reads

We had a full, warm crowd and we even had time to do some creative writing right there with everyone. Fiona Scott, the host of the TWS reading series brought biodegradable pens and paper for us to jot down reactions to a quote from one of the pieces chosen at random. We all bent our heads and wrote for six minutes on  Meg’s phrase “push the button.” Half a dozen people came up to the mike to share their work and the crowd was eager for more writing, if only we had had time.

Jennifer Getsinger reads her response to the social writing prompt after the reading

Writers from the third and final group that is part of the Writers Caravan were there, too, to get a feel for what we do. They’re a group of mothers, who met through the Momoir Project, and formed a writing group called “The Write Club” and they’re very excited about working with us in May. You’ll be meeting them soon when they host a joint reading  just as the law students and the Writers Studio did, on Monday, May 16 at Westside Family Place. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Meg from The Write Club hits the mike for the first time with a piece written to the prompt "push the button."

Thanks to all of you who came to support the readers. It makes a big difference to us all when you are there clapping!

Listeners about to become writers...

Yaana and Rua take it in

And here is the generous note Fiona Scott sent out to all subscribers of The Writer’s Studio Reading series email list:

Dearest Readers, Writers and Listeners,

Last Friday night hockey fans paraded past the windows at Take 5 as word enthusiasts gathered inside to prepare for a special cultural exchange. The Writers Caravan had pulled into the TWS Reading Series and guest host Elee Kraljii Gardiner launched with great applause from the crowd. Eight participants from the program then stepped up to the mic share their poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

Our found poem for the night may take you back to the buzz we all experienced firsthand. Using just one line from each reader, you too might catch the beautiful imagery created by our guests in the spotlight. Many thanks to Lai Fung, Henry, Irit and Elee from Thursdays Writing Collective in addition to Rua, Dhana, Meg and Yaana from SFU’s Writer’s Studio.

An outdoor place I once knew well
If I die here, I am close to home
Until the sun turns blood red

I could feel the barrels of their guns in my ribs
A spark of freedom from a slap in the face
Sometimes we hear ordinary sounds

Crack the door to the great outdoors
I draw a total blank

And to add a new dimension to our regular reading series, we finished off the night with a 6 minute writing exercise. I am confident that sharing this experience practised within the Writers Caravan, encouraged all writers in our audience to continue being a part of our community. Thank you Elee!

If you are on facebook, join the Writers Caravan page and Thursdays Poems and Prose page!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Take 5 Café (on Granville and Hastings)

The Writers Caravan is holding its second of three readings, this one a collaboration between SFU’s Writer’s Studio and Thursdays Writing Collective.

Join us for a glimpse of the writing resulting from a creative encounter between the two groups.

Click below to download the pdf of the poster created by SFU’s Writer’s Studio. Thanks to Fiona Scott and The Writer’s Studio participants for hosting the Writers Caravan!


Yesterday, April 4, 2011, we literally caravanned, in two vans, from Carnegie up the hill to UBC where we were warmly welcomed to the University Centre by Professor Margot Young and her social justice law students. The students provided a fabulous snack display and we nestled right in to an hour and a half of engaged discussion.

This first joint reading was held in their classroom and open to participants of the Writers Caravan. The students are beginning their exams and the need to continue our exchange in a non-performative arena was mutual.

The afternoon functioned Quaker meeting-style, with speakers sharing their thoughts or writing as they were moved rather than by adhering to an order designated by seating or naming. What followed was an organic exploration of the change in penal codes since the 70s, a commentary on solitary confinement from first-hand experience, recognition of the fluidity rather than rigidity of law, and some beautiful writing.

UBC student Patricia wrote a creative enquiry into human rights conditions in Canada, Karen shared the beginning of a story of cultural appropriation in an East LA market and Margot played with the idea of “landscape” in a political, judicial and geographic sense based on Insite, the safe injection site. Angela shared a brief piece and lent her camera to document the group, which consisted of other members who did not read their writing but did contribute their thoughts.

Collective member John wrote of Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Taylor, Henry read a compact verse on the Libyan fruit vendor who self-immolated as political protest, Anne H. shared two harrowing poems, “Justice” and “Evidence,” Anne Y. took us on a trip to China and Elisabeth reminded us that we are the experts in our lives.

Though the writing provoked and pleased, it was the interstitial moments that continue to resonate. The conversation was relaxed and buoyant with a flow of information and perspective running from the theoretical to the personal. In the van down the hill Diane and Elisabeth and I agreed that forging community through writing is an effective way to reduce distance between “self” and “other.” We were pleased to write with such a thoughtful, engaged group of law students, “good” people who are willing to venture outside of their studies to exchange ideas with us.