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.

On March 17, members of SFU’s 2011 Writer’s Studio joined the Writers Caravan in their first encounter. We spoke about the role of questioning in writing. We began with a working definition of poetry as being “questions without answers,” this taken from the wonderful, “Poetry Everywhere” from T&W Books, 2005.

Off the top we each listed 10 questions, small or serious, rhetorical or otherwise. We shared our favourites and then wrote about a question we heard or liked.  Next we read two poems that use questions in different ways, Robert Frost’s “A Question,” and Charles Bukowski’s “Question and Answer.” Both were written by men, who in their respective eras, were known for realistic depictions of daily life and the use of vernacular. Both men dealt with depression on a personal level, as well. We discussed what makes the poems effective and what links them.

Next we thought of a question we were forbidden or discouraged from asking as a child and we wrote about that without including the question in the piece. The table discussion was animated as we shouted out our guesses, sometimes striking the mark and other times missing. The Writer’s Studio women who joined us were a fantastic group, not just because of their adaptability to writing in our fast-and-furious social setting and their willingness to share their work, but also for their thoughtfulness in what they shared.

Another exercise we did was to write about a question we wish someone would ask us and then answered it for ourselves. What came up more than once: “Can I help?”

On April 15, 2011 The Writer’s Studio is hosting a Writers Caravan reading at Take 5 Cafe on Hastings and Granville as part of the the SFU TWS reading series.  The readings of the works-in-progress begun at this encounter and others begin at 7pm.

Today, February 23, 2011, we had a writing session with a group of second and third year law students from Professor Margot Young’s course. Many of them had not written since highschool, though all expressed an interest in getting back to it. Their ability to jump into the prompts with us was wonderful. We did a series of prompts related to vocabulary Margot gave me in advance of the meeting. She did not know what I would propose using her fodder and this made for a comedic moment as I mistakenly added a “p” to “regnant lawyering.” For more details about the session and to see what we did with social justice and Paolo Freire’s concept of silence and liberation theology, please click on the Writers Caravan UBC Law Students button. Thanks to all the writers from TWC and UBC!

Year of the Rabbit

In our first class on February 3, 2011, we explored a poem by Mary Oliver, “The Rabbit,” and wrote about the characteristics of people born under the Chinese zodiac’s  Year of the Rabbit. Mary Bennett of  BC Arts Council supplied the descriptions and posted three of the pieces generated here.

Below are the prompts, which we spent 5-10 minutes on, and did not edit. As with all of our prompts, any form, narrative position or response goes. There is no “wrong.”

It is said that wishes will be fulfilled in the Year of the Rabbit. The Rabbit is the symbol of the Moon so on each of the Full Moon nights of this year, go out into your garden to gaze into the Full Moon and visualize plenty of Moon dust and Moon glow flowing into you, filling your whole body with bright white light and granting you fearlessness, love and courage.  This will not only strengthen your inner “Chi” energy, it will also bring wisdom into your life.

Write: Outside, someone makes a wish.

The Rabbit year is a time to catch your breath and calm your nerves. It is a time for negotiation. Don’t try to force issues, because if you do you will ultimately fail. To gain the greatest benefits from this time, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children. Make it a goal to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle, so you will be able to calmly deal with any problem that may arise.

Write: About a moment of peace

People born under the Rabbit sign are lucky, private and a bit introverted. They are good teachers, counselors and communicators, but needs their own space. Imagine a person like this and write a paragraph about her/him that “shows” her/his character without “telling” it.

The Rabbit is the symbol of the Moon, while the Peacock is the symbol of the Sun. Together, these two animal signs signify the start of day and night, represent the Yin and Yang of life.

Write: rabbit and peacock, or night and day

Join us for the eighth Thursdays Writing Collective course beginning February 3, 2011. We meet Thursdays from 2-4pm in the Carnegie Centre until June 9. The first two classes will have to do with Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rabbit.  We have been invited to post our written work on the Vancouver Community  Arts Council website. Stay tuned for a more detailed schedule of events.

Thursdays Editing Collective members will be on hand throughout the spring to meet one on one directly after class to offer feedback on work produced in and around class.