I have many years of experience as a Visual Arts and Language Arts teacher in both Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. My time as an Artist-in-Residence for a number of New Brunswick schools has given me a chance to work with students of all ages. It is my good fortune to live on a dairy farm with one husband, two daughters, a hundred cows, many cats and two donkeys.
My poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction have been published in a number of Canadian literary journals and several anthologies. I have also written for CBC radio. Eyehill, a collection of linked stories, was published by Goose Lane Editions.
What I Offer
Drawing the Line: Character and Conflict: (Grades 4 – 12) In this workshop, students participate in a gesture drawing activity where they create very quick line drawings of 4 – 6 human figures. Students then choose two figures and imagine ways the two could interact. We experiment with positioning the figures so that their interactions appear hostile, friendly, romantic, etc. Students then write the opening scene of a story based on the drawings. 60 – 90 minutes, depending on class age and size.
The Superhero Project: (Grades 1-5) Students begin with an art activity (portrait or sculpture) where they create a character that has a special power. The only limitation is that their superhero must solve problems while doing no harm. While they are making art, we discuss problems in their school, their communities and in the larger world. The concepts of hero and villain in literature are introduced as part of the art-making and discussion. The project ends with students writing a scene for a story. 60 – 90 minutes, depending on age and size of group.
Think Like A Writer: (Grades 9 – 12) A combination of reading and workshop. I give students a few basic elements from a scene from one of my short stories: two brothers, a garden, a shovel, for example. Then students are asked to write for 5 -10 minutes, creating their own scene using the elements I’ve provided. I collect the student writing and share a few examples with the group. Then I read the scene from my published short story and we discuss concepts of character development, setting, genre and conflict based on my work and that of the students. We try this exercise for a couple of scenes and I finish the session by reading the story through to the end. 60 – 90 minutes.
Drug Store Poems: (Grades 6 – 12) This workshop explores the concept of “found poems”, poetry created by using words and phrases the writer finds in other types of text. These words and phrases are juxtaposed in interesting ways to create unexpected images. We discuss literary devices commonly used in poetry such as metaphor, repetition and hyperbole. Found poems can be created from newspapers, tabloid magazines, instructions on a box of hair colour. I bring items that can be found in a drug store and students use the text from these to create poems. 60 minutes.
In addition to these workshops, I am available for readings (Grade 9 – 12) and discussions about editing, publishing and the writing life.