YouthWrite River Valley Experience 2015 was a smashing success!
Here are some of instructor Mifi Purvis' fond memories:
Expect the unexpected.
That’s what I wish Gail Sidonie Sobat had told me before I came to YouthWrite.
Of course I mean that in the best possible way. The group of kids who came to my class was about as smart and creative as they come. I learned that what worked for one did not work for all. I had some back-pocket ideas to make sure I could engage every camper, and I am glad I did – I used every trick I had. My young writers were whip-smart and demanded the best from me, so I am happy I was well-prepared.
Campers listened respectfully to their fellow campers share work and offered a supportive environment for creativity. The persuasive writing they did – advertisements, essays and more – was inspiring and delightful beyond what I had imagined. They worked their magic with all the instructors.
I also did not expect such a diverse bag of skills and talents on display – from poetry to song writing to fiction. Some of these campers are old hands and others find themselves immersed for the first time in a cohort of equally arts-minded kids. To watch them engage with such confidence was inspiring.
I was intimidated when I read the roster of talented instructors involved in YouthWrite. I need not have worried. They were welcoming and happy to share their expertise and tips with the newcomers.
The driving force behind YouthWrite is Gail Sidonie Sobat, and her camp is a love letter to Alberta’s young people that is effective in building a future creative class. The army of pixies that makes it happen – can I mix any more metaphors here? – comprises the supervisors, as adept at managing the instructors as they are the campers.
YouthWrite is a valuable local resource, the envy of other jurisdictions. What more can I add? Well – expect the unexpected.
YouthWrite is extremely proud to present our instructors for YouthWrite River Valley 2015.
Anna Marie Sewell
’s family left Guyana, South America to escape the country’s growing racial and political violence. Since then, she’s lived in small towns in British Columbia, big cities in Alberta, and even called New York home. When she’s not writing about kick-butt heroes, twisted plots, and trying to make readers laugh, she inhales disgusting amounts of chocolate and races her dogs and cats for the best spot on the couch.
Riddle Me This: Finding the clues to writing a great mystery! - Whodunnits are all about the who and how they done it. Join Natasha and learn the secrets (including the SUPER BIG SECRET) to writing a great mystery that will keep your readers up all night!
Tyler Enfield is the award-winning author of the Wrush novel series, and his upcoming YA novel, Madder Carmine, is due out Oct 1, 2015. He is also the writer/director of the NFB interactive film, Invisible World, a published and exhibiting photographer, and part of the Rasterverse team, which is developing a six-episode animation series.
Write A Fantasy Story That Would Blow Harry Potter's Socks Off (if he read it) - Ever
wanted to write your own fantasy story, but not sure where to begin?
Learn the "Fantasy Blueprint" every young author needs to write his/her
own Harry Potter. We'll explore the key elements to good fantasy
writing, the importance of developing magic, world-building, point of
view, and much more in this fun workshop especially designed for those with a passion for fantasy.
Mark Kozub is founding father of Edmonton’s Raving Poets and author of the notably strange non-fiction book, Weird Edmonton. He has a number of other books too, including Spirit of the North: 100 Years of Community Builders in Grande Prairie and his quirky and touching novel The Uptown Browns. Mark also draws, paints, and plays a mean fretless bass & alto sax.
Write Weird Stuff! - Mark Kozub, author of the new book Weird Edmonton will teach you how to find your inner weirdness and capture it in your writing. Write prose, postcard fiction and performance poetry, draw strange cartoons, and even learn how to find the nuttiness in non-fiction. The key word for this class is “FUN”.
Conni Massing is an award-winning writer working in theatre, film and television. Recent stage credits include The Invention of Romance, premiered by Workshop West Theatre; Oh! Christmas Tree, commissioned and premiered by Lunchbox Theatre; and several productions of her adaptation of W.O Mitchell’s Jake and the Kid. Conni’s writing has been recognized by AMPIA, the Academy of Cinema and Television, the Betty Mitchell Awards, The Writers Guild of Alberta and the Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards. A recipient of a Queen’s Jubilee Medal (for contributions to the arts), she was also honoured as one of 100 people who have made a contribution to Alberta theatre in the last one hundred years. Conni is currently the President of the Playwrights Guild of Canada.
Real! Live! Drama - Do you see drama all around you in the way people talk to one another - or in the silences when they don’t? Do you have a burning desire to see those voices transformed into a theatrical story which will in turn trigger a creative collaboration with a team of actors, directors, and designers? It all starts with you - the playwright. Get a taste of the basic skills required to write a play in this fun and active approach to creating character, conflict and plot.
Barbara North is an award-winning stand-up comic, writer, and comedic TV reporter. Barbara has created, written, and starred in several national comedic television shows, including CBC TV’s Army Brats and A Total Write-Off! She was a writer-intern on CBC TV’s Royal Canadian Air Farce and was the female character announcer for Teletoon. She writes comedic short stories and TV shows. Her latest comic monologues include, Why Didn’t Oprah Tell Me??, and the upcoming, Skankenstein.
Suck Forward - Stephen King said you can learn just as much from bad writing as you can from great writing. In ‘Suck Forward!’ tap into your most inspired writing abilities by having a blast writing laughably melodramatic, ridiculous, over-the-top comic creations. Using the ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ school of imaginatively bad writing, have a riot creating the best of the worst. Tap into your fromage, lose your fear of perfection and stink your way to success!
Mary Pinkoski was the City of Edmonton's Poet Laureate from 2013 - 2015. As an internationally recognized spoken word artist, Mary tours on stages across the world including most recently at the Winter Lights Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland. She is a Canadian National Slam Champion and a CBC Poetry Faceoff National Champion. When she is not performing, she works as a spoken word educator giving workshops for writers of all ages.
“EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!” … I could write this poem forever: What the hyperbole? -
Hyperbole is crazy and let’s you go wild! So in this class we are gonna go wild! We will play with exaggeration and hyperbole in our poetry. We are going to write lies the size of black holes and truths as a tall as Everest. And then we are going to let go and perform them as big or tiny as we are able. This class is going to center on playing with words on the page and on the stage (erm, or the classroom floor). We will aim to be as ridiculous and as awesome as possible. Note: I like hearing your poem voices, so participants should come prepared to write a lot, read a lot, and share their poems a lot. This is a participation-heavy class, but you will be gently guided into this.
Mifi Purvis is a mid-career editor and writer of non-fiction. She has a secret. More importantly, she has a goofy goldendoodle that needs medicine every day, which he hates. So every morning Mifi hides the medicine in a piece of cheese, which he loves. Now when her dog hears the medicine jar shake, he comes running – tail high, barking excitedly.
Secret in a Story - Back to Mifi’s secret. People love stories like dogs love cheese. To convince people to do something and to want to keep doing it, just hide the message in a story. They’ll remember the story and when they do, they’ll remember the message. They might even get excited about it. So learn the hows and whys of inserting secrets in your stories.
Jana O’Connor is an Edmonton-born performer, improvisor, theatre instructor and playwright. She is also a cast member/writer on the national CBC Radio sketch comedy show, The Irrelevant Show. She adores improv - in performance, as a teacher, and as a catalyst for her writing. In 2010, Jana was awarded one of seven 2010 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Awards for her work as a playwright.
Eye Say! - Improvise your way to creating compelling characters that will inspire and sustain you on your YouthWrite
journey. Delve into a world of collective creation, and experience the
power of improvisation to propel the written word. Act on impulse and
write on a whim!
Rasberry is a philosopher, poet, imagination consultant, musician, artist, and
educator. With a PhD in education and over 20 years experience as an artist and
an educator, Gary has held artist-in-residencies internationally, in
California, Barcelona, and Amsterdam, nationally in British Columbia, Alberta,
Nova Scotia and Ontario, and locally in his hometown of Kingston, Ontario. This JUNO-nominated children’s artist offers
Song, Story & Sound workshops and concert performances in schools
everywhere. His latest recording, The Very Next Day, was released in
Off the Page! A Song, Poem, Story & Sound
Workshop - Ever wonder what Dr. Seuss might do
with an iPad and some recording gear? Come Play, Improvise, Experiment & “Mess
Around” with Song Sound & Story in a workshop where ‘Hi-tech’ (multi-tracking software) meets
‘No-tech’ (the human voice). Write and
record spoken word pieces, songs, stories & poems. We’ll pull our words and stories Right Off the Page!
Jan Taylor is a freelance playwright, director, dramaturge, educator and theatre producer in the Edmonton area. Playwriting credits include book and lyrics for the family musicals: Alberto the Dancing Alligator, The Wizard that Was… or Was Not, and Bones in the Stones. Jan has also directed and scripted many collectively-created pieces: including In True Pirate Fashion, Tales From a Laundry Basket, The Camp Squealy-Moo Series along with many others. Upcoming, with composer Richard Link, and Designer Daniel VanHeyst is an updated puppet extravaganza production of Alberto the Dancing Alligator as part of “The ArtsBarn Presents” Series. Jan is currently the Artistic Director of Kompany Family Theatre.
The Play in Play - Stir a heaping handful of drama games together with a dollop of fun and a sprinkle of imagination. Let the mixture ferment and rise until it can be shaped into a sequence of words and actions. Take those words and actions and create new drama games. Repeat. Set your imagination free! Dare to discover that you are a dramaturge (and/or perhaps a thespian)!
Elizabeth Withey is a writer, journalist and artist. She grew up in rural Saskatchewan and has written for the Edmonton Journal since 2004. She is currently serving as the 2015 Writer-In-Residence at the Edmonton Public Library, and is also at work on a family memoir and a children’s picture book. Her popular blog, Frock Around the Clock, documents her mission to wear the same black dress every day for the year 2015.
More Than Clicking "Like": The Great Review - Do you dream of interviewing famous musicians, actors, and authors? Want to know the tricks of writing a good review of movies, books, concerts and plays? Think you have what it takes to be a critic? In this arts writing course, journalist and author Elizabeth Withey will teach you how to conduct an interview with Creative People (from the rich and famous to the artists right in your own neighbourhood), how to make a question list, how to write a profile, where to dig for story ideas, how social media can boost your juices as a writer, and what makes a perfect review (no matter how good, bad, or ugly the show). Elizabeth will even help you speed up your creative writing so you don't miss your deadline!
Spyder Yardley-Jones bears the mark of a spider on his forehead and is an internationally recognized visual artist. Illustrator of the graphic novel, Jamie’s Got a Gun, and the picture book, In the Graveyard, Spyder also spins his web as an assistant art preparatory, installing shows at the Art Gallery of Alberta. He teaches the art of cartooning and illustration in elementary, junior and senior high schools in an artist in residency program sponsored by the Edmonton St. David’s Welsh Society.
3D Tragedy - You’ll receive a paragraph about an epic tragedy. Upon reading this literary masterpiece, you’ll sketch your interpretation of the event, whether single frame or series of frames. Then you’ll create a diorama from your sketch or the climax of your sketch, thus creating a 3D tragedy.
Blue Pencil Cafe
Anna Marie Sewell served as Edmonton's Poet Laureate from 2011 - 13. Among her major Laureate projects, she created The PoemCatcher, at City Hall. Beneath a Dream Catcher hung in its arbour, on a table with legs made of discarded books, the public were welcomed to write in the pages of the Poem Catcher book, in response to the question: What is poetic about Edmonton? Over 18 months, people from
around the world contributed over 1000 pages of poetry, stories, prayers
and pictures about our lives, our hearts, our dreams. The project is
archived and lives on at https://webofvisions.wordpress.com/ As Laureate, Anna Marie also contributed to a book, Writing the City: Poets Laureate of Edmonton 2005-13, and directed A Poetry Map of Canada, a performance project with 15 Poets Laureate from across Canada.
Blue Pencil Café - Work
one-on-one with our resident expert on your work-in-progress. Get
expert tips, constructive feedback, and industry insights for your
writing. Sign-up at camp for this excellent editorial experience.
River Valley Special Guests
Jay Bardyla co-owner
of Happy Harbor Comics has helped make the comic shop into a hub of
artistic talent in the core of Edmonton. Under his guidance, the shop
regularly brings in comic book artists and holds numerous events and
game tournaments for its customers. Jay's first career path was in law enforcement but seeing as he's kinda old for that now, he'd try and fall back on being a writer. He hums the theme from the original Superman movie constantly. If he were marooned on an island, the one item he'd want with him would be a copy of Justice League of America #200. Jay read that book repeatedly as a kid and it’s what ingrained comics into his soul and put him where he is today.
Laurel Deedrick-Mayne was once an Arts Administrator but swapped her pumps and shoulder pads (it was the eighties) for sneakers and a T-shirt before becoming a writer. Before that, she was a dance publicist, concert promoter, ad copywriter and box office bunny. When she's not writing, she enjoys the honour and privilege of practicing touch therapy massage. Married nearly 30 years, she and her husband call Edmonton home where her city girl roots run deep. She has been a keynote speaker and presenter at such interesting events as the World Burn Congress and International Harp Convention. She has abandoned writing grocery lists and the care and feeding instructions of cats and kids in favour of penning Canadian historical fiction. Her first book is A Wake for the Dreamland.
Rasberry is an instructor at YouthWrite River Valley Experience, but this JUNO-Award nominated singer-songwriter will also regale us as a guest presenter. See his excellent bio above and give a listen to his stellar albums, What's the Big Idea and The Very Next Day.
River Valley Experience options: Daytime or Overnight
At this camp, YouthWriters aged 11-14 have the choice to attend the daytime program, which runs approximately from 8:15 am - 5:15 pm. Alternatively, youth aged 12-14 may stay overnight at the Bennett Centre, where we have capable supervisors to make sure they have fun and stay safe! Make sure you choose the right option when registering for camp.