High school students in Castlegar received a visit from a BC Book Prize nominated poet last week.
Raoul Fernandes, who’s been nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for his first book of poetry, Transmitter and Receiver, paid a visit to English students at Stanley Humphries Secondary School (SHSS) on Friday. His visit was part of BC Book Prizes On Tour and just happened to coincide with poetry month.
The students Fernandes read for on Friday were mostly in Grade 10, with a few from Grades 11 and 12 — around the same age he was when he first started writing poetry. Since it’s poetry month, the students have been writing and reading poetry, including work by Fernandes. Having him in the school gave the students a chance to discuss his work with him and ask questions about it, and get tips from a professional poet on how to write poetry.
Explaining to students that poems don’t always have to be deep and about big, important ideas, Fernandes said, “Sometimes I just sit down and start writing very simple thoughts.”
The poet also led the students through a couple of writing exercises, including stream of consciousness writing, and read their work aloud in front of the rest of the room. The teenagers were a little reluctant to share at first, but gradually more of them offered to have their work read. Fernandes said students at SHSS shared more than students at some other schools he’d visited.
“They were a bit more engaged and ready to share,” he said. “I liked the sort of joking around. They all had a sense of humour and were ready to use it.”