Category Archives: Travelling In the World

Maelor, Wales Remembering How to Play

It’s hard to believe but my residency at Stiwido Maelor, in Corris, Wales is coming to a close. It’s been a very successful, inspiring and wonderful three weeks. During that time, I’ve managed to edit and submit the almost final draft of my upcoming novel to my publisher Second Story Press, in Toronto, Canada. This would never (and those of you who are writers can confirm this), have been possible if I hadn’t been given the gift of time and freedom to write.

Beyond that, I’ve made friends with other artists and writers from all over the world.

And beyond that, I’ve discovered a magical corner of the world that it’s hard to get to from Vancouver, but worth the long hours it took to get here.

Last night I went to sleep trying to figure out what it is that makes an extended period of time away from real life in a place like Corris so extraordinary and difficult to describe. I didn’t come up with the answer before I drifted off, but this was my dream:

I was jumping on a trampoline with a group of unknown people; the only thing I actually knew about them was that they were artists and writers and they were having a good time. Every so often, one of us would leap off the tramp and skip rope or just lie on our backs in the grass. I was doing just that in my dream when a man and his little girl walked by. “What on earth are they doing?” the dad said to his daughter.

The little girl looked up him with a puzzled expression on her face. When she replied, she sounded worried or maybe puzzled. “They are playing, Daddy,” she said. “Have you forgotten how?”

And I think that’s what I’ve been remembering for the last three weeks; how to play and be free and create without any restraints. As they say here, ‘that’s brilliant.’ And it is.

file:///Users/Julie/Pictures/iPhoto%20Library.photolibrary/Previews/2016/06/09/20160609-130821/HiF9EQhKRweO+9lWOmUt4Q/IMG_4372.jpg

IMG_4372

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Travelling In the World, Writing Tips

Stiwdio Maelor; Wales Writing Residency

One of the greatest gifts a writer can have is being invited to spend time in a Residency. Last year, I applied and was accepted to an International Writers’ Residency in Wales. The process of applying seems so long ago, but suddenly it’s only a month away. My heritage on my mother’s side is Welsh so in a strange way, it feels like I will be travelling to a country that feels familiar, even though that familiarity is a product of stories I heard as a child and my imagination.

I’ll have the precious gift of time to write and I hope to keep up a blog while I am there, so check back for news and stories of my time in Wales.

I’ll be at stiwdiomaelor, and no, I can’t pronounce it yet, but that will change when I arrive mid-May. Thank you to Australian artist Veronica Calarco for giving me this wonderful opportunity to Write in Peace.

IMG_1757

There’s something unknown waiting for me! 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Events and Readings, General, Travelling In the World, Uncategorized, Writing Tips

Ottawa Shooting, Lest We Forget: Hold on to the Dream (of Peace)

When I woke up this morning to the news of the shootings in Ottawa I felt sick and saddened because my Canada has never included gunfights in the Parliament Buildings.

Like many Canadians, I heard the news on CBC first and like many Canadians I tripped over myself leaping to conclusions. Conclusions about who did it and why, anger toward the Harper government, fear about travel, and personal security.  And then I tried to make myself stop, to slow down and push away hateful thoughts of blame and fear and hopelessness. To pause and think about the victims. To take a deep breath and send a prayer to our Capital City.

It was a struggle, until out of nowhere, Roger Waters started to sing to me 🙂

As an avid Pink Floyd Fan, who has probably listened to The Final Cut a thousand times, the lyrics to The Gunner’s Dream flooded unbidden into my mind. I remembered how I used to listen to this song and sing along feeling incredibly lucky, blessed even, that as Canadians we, can relax on both sides of the tracks and maniacs don’t blow holes in bandsmen by remote control. And everyone has recourse to the law. And no-one kills the children anymore.

Had a crazed and bloody morning in Ottawa destroyed our country’s sense of security?

Had an insane act of misdirected hate taken away my right to feel lucky about being Canadian?

“Canada under attack,” said one reporter. Fear mongering and hate can grow from these three simple words. But just because it happened once, doesn’t mean it has to happen again.

I don’t believe we should be at war with anyone and many, many Canadians are of the same mind. The decision to drop bombs in a far away place was never a democratic one. So, it’s up to those of us who believe in Peace to not let the horror in Ottawa destroy us. It’s up to us to “Hold on to the dream.”

Do it for Corporal Nathan Cirillo, (Rest in Peace).

*Fellow bloggers, out of respect for CPL Nathan Cirillo, let’s not ever name the shooter online. Let’s use social media to erase him.

Julie

The Gunner’s Dream (Waters) 

Floating down through the clouds
Memories come rushing up to meet me now.
In the space between the heavens
and in the corner of some foreign field
I had a dream.
I had a dream.
Good-bye Max.
Good-bye Ma.
After the service when you’re walking slowly to the car
And the silver in her hair shines in the cold November air
You hear the tolling bell
And touch the silk in your lapel
And as the tear drops rise to meet the comfort of the band
You take her frail hand
And hold on to the dream.
A place to stay
“Oi! A real one …”
Enough to eat
Somewhere old heroes shuffle safely down the street
Where you can speak out loud
About your doubts and fears
And what’s more no-one ever disappears
You never hear their standard issue kicking in your door.
You can relax on both sides of the tracks
And maniacs don’t blow holes in bandsmen by remote control
And everyone has recourse to the law
And no-one kills the children anymore.
And no one kills the children anymore.

Night after night
Going round and round my brain
His dream is driving me insane.
In the corner of some foreign field
The gunner sleeps tonight.
What’s done is done.
We cannot just write off his final scene.
Take heed of his dream.
Take heed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Give Me a Break, Travelling In the World, Uncategorized

The Kent Harrison Arts Council Artist in Residence Program

The Kent Harrison Arts Council Artist in Residence Program
Visual Artist / Writer in Residence
Program Dates: September 1st – August 23rd

Kent Harrison Arts Council is a not for profit organization, nurturing and supporting local arts and culture in the region for over 40 years. The arts council operates the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison Hot Springs, BC and is supported by the BC Arts Council. We are currently seeking writers or visual artists for a one year artist residency. The art gallery and artist residence are located on the shore of beautiful Harrison Lake, approx. 100 kms  east of Vancouver.

The annual residency provides an unfurnished 2 bedroom suite with adjoining studio space on second floor of the Ranger Station Art Gallery. In exchange for this space the Artist in Residence will be expected to devote an average of ten hours per week to the operation of the Arts Council and the Ranger Station Art Gallery.  The majority of this time will be spent working in the Gallery on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays from 1:00pm to 5:00pm.  The Artist in Residence will also present an annual art exhibit of their work in June and organize two public outreach programs or workshops. Artist in residence is responsible for monthly utility costs of residence and studio. Please refer to the artist in residence job description for specific duties and responsibilities at: kentharrisonartscouncil.com

Artist in Residence Job Description:

The Ranger Station Art Gallery
98 Rockwell Dr. Harrison Hot Springs, BC
Phone #: 1 604 796-2723  email:  kentharrisonartscouncil@shaw.ca

The Kent Harrison Arts Council Residency program is a one year contract running from September 1 to August 15 and is presented by the Kent Harrison Arts Council

Leave a comment

Filed under Stuff to do, Travelling In the World, Uncategorized, writing contests

A Summer of Writing Gets Results

I’ve had a very successful summer of writing beginning with an eight day escape with my friend Lisa to Vancouver Island, where we wrote solidly from dawn until dusk and followed by another glorious week at St. Peter’s Abbey in Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild), where I wrote for an average of eight hours a day. The result of all of this hard work? Two decent drafts of two different books and how is that for progress?

Our only visitor on our writing trip to Vancouver Island!

There are many writer’s retreats across Canada and worldwide for that matter and I’ve been lucky enough to have visited my share of them. There is something about being removed from the interruptions and stresses of everyday life that allows my imagination to roam freely. Each time I attend such a retreat, I enter with a good idea and leave with the skeleton of a book! I know that St. Peter’s also offers a two-week winter retreat, but I don’t think I’m ready for -30 weather…although they say it’s pretty!

I almost forgot – another summer highlight was a trip I took with my son to Toronto – I thought he might like to spend some time in Canada’s largest city and we did a three-day whirlwind tour beginning in the Royal Ontario Museum, followed by the Picasso exhibit at the AGO and finally a night at The Princes Diana Theatre, where we saw Warhorse (and loved it). Of course, I cried the whole way through – it’s really sad and you do forget that the ‘horses’ are actually life-size puppets.

While we were in Toronto, the TTC flooded, so it was difficult to get around, but in end we did a lot of walking and that’s always the best way to see a city.

Pretty good summer so far!

Julie at the Royal Ontario Museum

Leave a comment

Filed under Travelling In the World, Writing Tips

The Kamloops Young Writer’s Festival – an Inspiring Event

Further to my previous post about the Kamloops Young Writer’s Festival:

On Thursday morning Norma Charles, Lee Edward Fodi and Lori Sherritt-Fleming piled into Norma’s van and headed for Kamloops. We stopped at my favourite café in Hope, The Blue Moose, because it’s impossible to pass Hope and not give into my craving for their fair trade, delicious coffee and chocolate chunk brownies. All of us indulged before heading up the very wet and cold Coquiahalla Highway. We made great time, possibly because when you put four writers in a van, there is never a lack of things to talk about.

We arrived at the Thompson River University around 4 and what a lovely campus. We were treated like stars – put up in lovely suites and pampered by the teachers and volunteers with a wine and cheese and snack reception. I can’t say enough about these volunteers and the huge amount of work they put in to make this weekend such a success for all of us.

On Friday Morning my helpful colleagues made sure I limped into the Clock Tower on campus on time – these torn tendons are really slowing me down. I had two seminars to teach, each just over two hours long and despite some issues with technology (nothing new about that for me), my morning class got off to a great start and just got better and better. We focused on character in both the morning and afternoon classes with some fun YouTube vids dispersed throughout.

Every student in my classes, whether they were in grade twelve or grade seven put all of their creative energies into the exercises I’d designed for them and the results were impressive and incredible. I know for a fact that some of these kids will be tomorrow’s great writers. Because of their high level of interest and participation, the day flew by and pretty soon all of us were back in Norma’s van and heading toward home; a happy and exhausted group.

As we approached Hope, we came upon Crystal Strangahan and KC Dyer by the side of the road.

Image

As can be seen from the looks on their faces, they too had been chatting the whole way and somehow missed that sign just outside of Merritt that says something like: You will not find a single gas station between here and the end of the world.

We didn’t keep driving, but they had Roadside Assistance and within the hour we all met up again at the Blue Moose for more tasty calories and a group debrief about the great time we had in Kamloops.

Big thanks to all of the students, the staff and the volunteers. I was thrilled to be a part of this festival!

Leave a comment

Filed under Events and Readings, Travelling In the World

Day Three Bethlehem House Writer’s Retreat

I am feeling very good about the work I am getting done here and now feel fully prepared for my workshop at the Kamloops Young Writer’s Festival as well as my panel discussion on publishing at the Symposium of Manitoba Writer’s coming up in May. What a difference peace and quiet makes to my output, both quality and quantity. I’m very grateful for this opportunity to work in such a lovely setting.

Because it is Earth Day, I wanted to talk a little bit about the meals here at Bethlehem House and more importantly, the philosophy behind those meals. Since the Retreat Brochure says it best:

The culinary services at the Centre are central to supporting a nourishing environment for persons on their spiritual and or professional paths. In season, much of the Centre’s organic produce is harvested directly from our own garden. Nourishing the body/soul by sharing a meal is an essential part of any gathering at the Centre with food respectfully prepared by our Red Seal Chef.

I didn’t know what that was either, until I Googled it, but what I did know right away and without the help of a search engine, was that the meals here have been really, really good. My kind of food – a large, fresh salad at both lunch and dinner, a variety of vegetarian and non vegetarian proteins and mouth watering deserts – my favourite so far, the most delectable chocolate mousse and after a full day of writing, I need something sweet and made from scratch.

Breakfast: oatmeal, fruit, toast and cereal – good brain food for a day of writing.

Image

The Dinning Room with a View at Bethlehem House

I really appreciate that everything is composted and recycled here and eventually added to the garden – great stewards of the earth!

There is a monastery a property over with a great little gift store and a  collection of comical llamas. Unfortunately, by the time we found out about this, it was closed 😦 Image

 

Image

We leave tomorrow, but I hope to return at some point. This has been a fantastic few days away from the noise and interruptions of the real world. Recommended 

Leave a comment

Filed under Stuff to do, Travelling In the World, Writing Tips