‘Pearls’ of panache

Creative writing students perform at LitFest New West

By Sharon Miki, Assistant Editor

If a poem on paper is worth a pretty penny, a poem read aloud is surely worth a pearl. Accordingly, an erudite group of past and present students who were featured in the latest edition of Douglas’s annual anthology of student creative writing, Pearls 31, gathered for a celebration of poems and stories on April 14.

Seven readers—Laura Cuthbert, Kyle Derochie, Matthew Burgess, Trudy Noort, Carleigh Baker, Morgan Nicholsfiguieredo, and myself—read their stories and poems to a lecture hall full of family, friends and fans of the Fest. Each reader regaled the room with a short selection of poems or prose, with most readers including work that was featured in Pearls 31.

Pearls is an annual anthology of the best and brightest work from Douglas College creative writing students. Contributions, which range this year from poems to fiction to personal narratives to scripts, are selected by instructors in the Creative Writing Department.

The Pearls reading was held as part of the Arts Council of New Westminster’s “LitFest New West”—an annual free public event celebrating writers and their accomplishments. The event, which this year was held at Douglas College’s New Westminster campus, featured a variety of readings, speakers, and workshops from the literary arts community.

Carleigh Baker, reader and the 2011 gold winner of Douglas’ Maurice Hodgson Memorial Award for Creative Writing, spoke to The Other Press about the experience.

“The Douglas creative writing program is producing some real talent, and it was great to see us represented at LitFest…[and] it’s always a pleasure to read to a large and receptive crowd.”

I’m thankful to Theresa [Henry-Smith] for organizing the reading, and I’m very thankful for the large and receptive crowd that came out. Douglas creative writing students can feel confident about the skills they will bring to the next level of their education. One only has to browse through Pearls to see this.”

Indeed, as a reader at this event, I’m honoured and grateful to Henry-Smith and department head Calvin Wharton for giving me the chance to showcase my work as part of this larger festival. As a new poet and a student, opportunities to read for a crowd are often as sparse as Jason Statham’s hairline—which is to say quite thin. With friends, family and LitFest visitors in the crowd, we were able to get feedback that is, frankly, priceless. To me, this exhibition of Pearls was simply full of gems.

Pearls 31 can be purchased at the Douglas College bookstore.