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Virtual Workshop Marathon / Chasing The Poem – Second Edition

June 28, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - July 5, 2022 @ 9:00 pm PDT



From June 28 to July 5, Massy Arts and Massy Books host a virtual poetry workshop marathon for emerging writers, in three courses created by published Indigenous poets to demystify poetry writing, to present useful writing prompts, to incite imagination, and to address political and linguistic points of view through poetic literature.

The classes – conducted by Michelle Poirier Brown, Jenn Ashton, Kayla MacInnis, and Vanessa Prescott – will be held through Zoom in an exclusively online method, with 2-hours long experimental courses that will mix literary theory + artistic expression.

By the end of this writing marathon, students will have received feedback about their writing by authors in production, aware of the market’s demands – but also aware of poetry’s potential.

The event will be hosted at Massy Arts’ Zoom room.

Tickets are limited, and registration is mandatory.

This event is part of Massy Voices, an ever-evolving collection of book launches, exclusive interviews, and artist talks that celebrate community voices and the stories they carry. Click here to know more.

Click here to register for Chasing The Poem

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Chasing The Poem – A unique opportunity for emerging writers

Whether an emerging poet, unpublished author, poetry enthusiast, or someone searching for new ways of expressing their creativity – Chasing The Poem will connect our creative community in three courses:

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The Power of Words by Jenn Ashton

June 28 – Tue – 7pm to 9pm (PST) – Zoom

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Ecological Ways of Seeing by Kayla MacInnis & Vanessa Prescott

June 30 – Thu – 7pm to 9pm (PST) – Zoom

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Keeping It Close to the Bone by Michelle Poirier Brown

July 05 – Tue – 7pm to 9pm (PST) – Zoom

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The Workshops

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The Power of Words by Jenn Ashton

In this introductory poetry workshop, attendees will discover what poetry is, why poetry is an important voice to use, and how everybody can be a poet. Ashton will address some of the barriers to creativity and how to remove them, and also how to make the words we write more powerful. Through prompts and activities, writers will be invited to share their poetic works.

Ashton will also speak about contests and how to submit to publications and publishers, and she’ll discuss The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University, where a Poetry stream is offered.

During the workshop, she will be reading from: Lee Maracle’s Hope Matters, Joshua Whitehead’s full-metal indigiqueer, and also some of her own literary work.

Jenn Ashton is an Award-winning author and visual artist. She is the author of the prize-winning “Siamelaht” in British Columbia History in 2019, and her book of Short Stories, People Like Frank, and Other Stories from the Edge of Normal (Tidewater Press 2020) was a finalist for the Indigenous Voices Award 2021, and she was shortlisted again for the 2022 awards. Jenn is the current Writer in Residence at the British Columbia History Magazine and an Authenticity Reader for Penguin/Random House USA. While Jenn writes in many genres, she is an award-winning poet and has work in the latest Caitlin Press Anthology, Worth More Standing, Ed. by Christine Lowther (2022). When she is not writing, painting, or teaching, she enjoys cedar and wool weaving, making regalia and being in her greenhouse.

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Ecological Ways of Seeing by Kayla MacInnis & Vanessa Prescott

This land-based poetry workshop will discuss how poetry can help deepen one’s relationship with the land as a form of medicine and the meditative process of tuning into the senses and exercising the metamorphosis of experience into words.

Mentors will ask each participant to spend time in nature prior to the workshop and find a plant that they feel speaks to them. By spending time in nature, they will ask attendees to step outside of their minds, relinquish control, and move from a place of disconnect to one of connection.

During the workshop, mentors will guide poetic work by asking: How can a body of work call us to participate in ecological ways of seeing? How can we pay more attention to the physical world? How can we imagine the perspectives of the natural world? How do we feel when we are out on the land?

By doing this, mentors will start discussions on how experience and connection with the natural world can help change modes of thinking and can be one solution to the global/local environmental crises. They say: “when spending time in nature, we can find ways to decenter humans from the narrative of the world and learn how changing our relationship with the land can foster healing, both for ourselves and the planet.”

Kayla MacInnis is a Métis storyteller born in the prairies but raised by the sea. Through sharing stories that mix visual arts and the written word, Kayla hopes to inspire people to find different ways to connect with themselves and one another. Kayla is currently studying Journalism and Creative Writing full-time at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and hopes to go on to get her Ph.D. She is a TA for Advanced & Innovative Research Techniques for Creative Writing, the Lead Editor for SAD Magazine and a freelance writer/photographer. You can find Kayla’s words in Beatroute Magazine, the New Westminster Record, SAD Magzine, Room Magazine, the Emily Carr University of Art + Design website and more. She was recently awarded the JoAnne Ward Creative Writing Award. Kayla has volunteered at many land-based organizations such as Raincoast Conservation, Sea Smart School, Plastic Oceans Canada, Indigenous Women Outdoors, My Eco-Action, and Surfrider. Her love for the land is palpable.

Vanessa Prescott is best known for her connectedness to the natural world and for her work with people and plants. She was raised in Shanni’us Territory (Shawnigan Lake) on Vancouver Island and has often thought of her youth as one big forest bath. Her Indigeneity comes from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where much plant life dies back in the winter. Speaking to living on the West Coast, Vanessa says, “There is something encouraging about knowing there is plant life growing alongside you, above ground, flourishing abundantly in every season.” She has been attuned to nature on a micro-level from a very young age, using synesthetic senses to study the way plants interact with the human spirit. For Vanessa, writing is an invitation that says, “Return to me in pieces,” a way of collecting pieces of the self. She says that rainy days speak, “Remember what it’s like to live slow,” and that her favourite days are spacious.

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Keeping It Close to the Bone by Michelle Poirier Brown

When I worked as a government communications manager, I used to hire writers to produce copy for things like brochures and ad campaigns. These writers would sometimes need a reminder that even if they were writing about a government program, the writing still needed to have the quality of a conversation between two people, that even brochure copy needed to be warm and meaningful. A simple instruction to revise, bringing the writing closer to the bone, would always produce the kind of result I needed.

The instruction is all the more important in poetry. A poem can be a private experience the poet and reader share — evocative, personal, moving. But how do we get there? How do we get from a few nice lines about ferns along the river to a line on the page that “beads with blood?”

It’s a bit of magic that one might think can’t be conjured at will. But there is a way in. We’ll play with how one might sharpen the scalpel, take the writing deeper. Feel it hurt. The goal is to help poets break habits in the way they situate themselves in relation to their work.

For this workshop, you will want to have at hand three photos of yourself, showing at least ⅔ of your body. If you body is not visible because of an object or another person, the photo will still work. The point is, the photos are of you situated. You will also want a writing environment where you can work erect, either standing or on a chair that allows you to sit upright and alert.

Michelle Poirier Brown is an internationally published poet and performer living on unceded syilx territory in Vernon, BC. She is nêhiyaw-iskwêw and a citizen of the Métis Nation. Her poem “Wake” won PRISM international’s Earle Birney Prize in 2019. The song cycle, “The Length of a Day” (Jeffrey Ryan, composer), premiered in 2021. Her work has appeared in Arc, CV2, The Greensboro Review, Grain, Emrys Journal, Vallum, and several anthologies. A feminist activist, Michelle won a landmark human rights case establishing reasonable accommodation in the workplace for breastfeeding women. Retired from careers as a speech writer, conflict analyst, and federal treaty negotiator, she now writes full-time and has taken up birdwatching. In 2022, Brown released her poetry book “You Might Be Sorry You Read This” (University of Alberta Press, 2022).

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June 28, 2022 @ 7:00 pm PDT
July 5, 2022 @ 9:00 pm PDT