By Kollin Lore
Young Writers from the Edge, a two-day arts event organized by Diaspora Dialogues, begins tomorrow night in Scarborough and will conclude in Etobicoke Wednesday.
Julia Chan, the artistic manager of Diaspora Dialogues, said the two days is a culmination of three weeks worth of workshops where professional writers and mentors helped youth, aged 16 to 18, develop their writing and communication skills through the arts.
This is one of several programs organized by Diaspora Dialogues, a group that uses the arts to connect communities and cultures.
“We generally do workshops in places that are considered priority neighborhoods and communities that have a diverse population, because our work is about encouraging and nurturing diverse voices in the city,” said Chan, on the event tomorrow.
The youth consulted with mentors in various disciplines including fiction, poetry and drama.
Ann-Marie Woods, a multidisciplinary artist, worked as a mentor with the youth on spoken word poetry.
“Arts will make you a more well-rounded person, especially with the writers at the Edge,” said Woods. “What is so incredible is that when you walk in everybody is just staring at you blankly, but when they write – everything comes out, they have so much to say.”
Another one of the mentors is Catherine Graham, author and poet, whose fifth collection of poems will be released in the fall.
“It’s been a truly wonderful experience working with Diaspora and the school and the students,” said Graham. “Seeing them motivated to spend time after school, after a long day to pursue writing, and their courage to commit to the program, to the exercises I do in class, and their enthusiasm towards writing is what makes the program work.”
Woods, who is also a recipient for the Harry Jerome Awards in April for her work as an African Canadian, feels the goals of Diaspora Dialogues, through this and other programs, fits perfectly with what she does as an artist.
“All of my experiences has been positive,” she said “The work they do with schools is incredible, especially in what they’re doing with literacy and how it’s multi-ethnic.
The free event will take place at 6 p.m. on March 26 at the Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School in Scarborough. The second night will be at the Ken Cox Community Centre.