by Steve Locke
Between school and sports, friends, part-time jobs and extra-curricular activities, it’s often hard for creative youth to find the time to seriously pursue their craft. Luckily, each year ACI Manitoba and the Winnipeg Public Library team up to organize a creative writing group for youth ages 16-19. Knowing how important my mentors were to me when I was young, I was honored to lead a group of whip smart youth in focused exercises and discussions on being as absolutely nerdy about books and poetry and writing as we could possibly handle. And trust me, when you get a bunch of people together who are just itching to get their thoughts down on paper, we could handle quite a bit!
Between January and May, my group of 13 “squibblers” and I met every second Tuesday at the Millennium Library. It was a treat to have guest writers visit our sessions, including Charlene Diehl, Sharanpal Ruprai, John K. Samson + Christine Fellowes, Kate Vermette, and Larysa Musick. Each guest shared some of their knowledge and led exercises that took us out of our comfort zones, helping us all to grow as writers and speakers. And from the piles of writing, we gathered our best pieces into an anthology called On Letters: A Squibblers Guild Anthology, which we launched in a public reading in the Carol Shields Auditorium in front of a supportive crowd of friends and family. You’ll find past ACI anthologies here and the 2017 edition On Letters: A Squibblers Guild Anthology will hit the library shelves soon!
Big shout out to the Squibblers Guild for their hard work and fantastic writing: Laura Steel Pascual, Ciarra O’Reggio, Stefan Marko, Emily Beaumont-Blais, Adara LePage, Hayden Shewchuk, Mason Hall, Ailsa Wanjiku Gitongo, Teresa C. Nnamani, Alexandra Peters, Susanna Derksen, Kelsey Chin, and Amelia Deitzer-Dicks. I’m so happy to have worked with you all.
Special thanks to the guest writers, and Alix-Rae Stefanko at the Millennium Library for hosting us every other Tuesday. Lastly, a big thank you to Jan Skene at ACI for coordinating the program and bringing us all together.