Spring Writes: A Celebration of Creative Writing

Urquhart, Jamal, Scott

Emily Urquhart, Tasneem Jamal, Susan Scott

Spring Writes: A Celebration of Creative Writing was held at Veritas Café on Thursday, March 15th. Hosted by 2018 Edna Staebler Writer in Residence Emily Urquhart, the evening began with an expert panel on the art and ethics of creative non-fiction with Kitchener author Tasneem Jamal, Susan Scott, editor of The New Quarterly, and Emily Urquhart, who also publishes work in this burgeoning literary form. The three panelists engaged in a lively discussion about how to define creative nonfiction – for instance, as ‘true stories told slant’ or as a ‘true novel’ – as well as how to delineate creative nonfiction from straight-up journalistic reporting. Both Jamal and Urquhart trained as journalists, so they had much to say on the latter topic. The panelists also talked about the ethics of writing about family members or other identity groups, and walking the line between telling personal stories and addressing larger social questions. Susan observed that creative nonfiction has the potential to encourage diverse voices who don’t necessarily feel they have a place in Canadian publishing, and offered the hopeful suggestion that these newer stories have the capacity to renew the English language. The panel was timely as the Dept. of English and Film Studies prepares to launch a new course in creative nonfiction next year.

Katie McGarry
Katie McGarry
Yeli Cruz
Yeli Cruz
Stephanie Silva
Stephanie Silva

After a short break and some draws for door prizes, attendees were treated to a showcase of Laurier writers curated by WIR Emily Urquhart and Blueprint Magazine. The talent on display ably illustrated the diversity of genres and voices currently represented by Creative Writing at Laurier. Readers included Jenna Hazzard, Katie McGarry, Amy Neufeld, James Lao, Yeli Cruz, and Stephanie Silva. Thank you to these readers for sharing their considerable talents, to Emily for her work as a literary mentor this term, and to all who attended!

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Photos and Story by: Jenny Kerber

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Balderdash Reading with Urquhart, Jong, and Swan

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Tucked inside the Wilfred Laurier Library is the quaint Robert Langen Art Gallery, which on Thursday February 9th was the location for  the Balderdash Reading Series hosted by Sanchari Sur. The Balderdash Reading Series is monthly  event which aims to represent and celebrate culture, art and academics. This was a public reading featuring three talented writers, Emily Urquhart, Tamara Jong, and Dane Swan. At five past seven, the presentation began.

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The first reader, Emily Urquhart, is a non-fiction writer who has received many awards for her work, including the Globe and Mail Best Book 2015, a National Magazine award, BC Book Prize as well as Kobo First Book Award. She is Laurier’s current writer in residence and during Thursday night’s reading, she presented a piece which she said was inspired by the brave students who had came to see her. “If they can do it, well then maybe so can I” she stated. Her piece was new work, still unedited and raw with emotion. The creative non-fiction piece which was an excerpt from an essay she’d been working on was about her brother’s sudden death which haunted her for many years to follow.

The second reader of the night was Tamara Jong, who is a non-fiction writer. Her work has appeared in The New Quarterly, Ricepaper, and Room. She read her short story that she had written four years ago entitled “Kindergarten Tales”. She described the piece as “kind funny and a kinda sad”. The piece ranged from her childhood and the difficulty’s of tying her shoe, to her adult life and her loss of faith.

The last reader of the night, Dane Swan, is a short story writer and poet, he has published two poetry collects and a short story collection. Swan was soft spoken when first walking up to the microphone to introduce himself and his pieces. Yet, once he delved into the pieces, he became passionate, his voice boomed and his hands gestured wildly as he spoke. In one particularly emotional section he yelled out “you!” and pointed an accusing finger at the audience which was very effective. The passion brought his work to life and proved that the poet is his own best sales man.

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After the readings, there was a short Q and A section with the authors. The audience had many questions ranging from their inspiration, difficulty with publishers and their view on other arts. Overall there was a positive reaction from the audience.

Photos and Article by Emma Davis, First Year, English and Film Studies

Emily Urquhart, Staebler Writer-In Residence Inaugural Talk

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On January 23rd,  2018 non-fiction writer, journalist, and the Edna Staebler Writer-in-Residence for Winter 2018, Emily Urquhart, kicked off her residency with her inaugural public talk in the Hawk’s Nest. In her talk, entitled “True Stories: Narrative Non-Fiction from Cave Painting to Podcasting,” Urquhart discussed the ways in which storytelling has, and has not evolved throughout human history. She gave a fascinating account of how her daughter’s albinism led her to write her memoir, Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes. 

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There were times in her life when being isolated in a foreign country or in a small city, or having to be at home as a mother with a young child actually forced her to find new ways to find books, write, and interact intellectually with the world.

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Photos by Katherine Bell

Also a folklorist, Urquhart engaged the audience with folkloric traditions at Laurier, such as the “don’t walk on the hawk” mentality and “Silent Seven” in the library. However, she also mentioned some less obvious ones, like the story behind an archived photo hanging in Wilf’s. She also gave personal anecdotes about her travels and journalistic endeavours. At the end, there was a question and answer period, in which the audience primarily discussed podcasts and even shared some of their favourite ones amongst each other.

Overall, the event was a great success, and we look forward to more in the coming months of Urquhart’s residency!

By: Manreet Lachhar