25 October 2007

Two days in Invermere

Driving into Invermere from Radium in the morning is glorious. Invermere is set in a valley, with great mountains all around, and as the car winds down from the main highway, the town is simply a mass of fog. It's like riding a plane down through the clouds. It's amazing to think that in that fog, people are driving to work, walking to school, opening shops. And then I enter the fog and become part of all that hidden activity.

My two days at the high school there were a great experience. On each day, I met with the Grade 12 creative writing class for a period. A really talented group of kids, and game for new writing experiences and new points of view. They've got a great teacher there, and I think they know it. On Tuesday I spent two periods with a huge group — a too-huge group: Grades 11 and 12 English. In situations like that, I just have to have faith that there are a few kids in the crowd who are really, really keen, and for the rest of them, well, it's good to be exposed to a strange poet like myself at least once in their lives.

Wednesday I had two periods with the Grade 9 English class. Again, they are blessed with a really creative, open teacher. Few of them expressed any enthusiasm for poetry at the beginning, but they were full of fabulous questions. I really like the slightly disdainful, aloof students who ask amazing questions while gazing disinterestedly in the other direction. And the slovenly rebel guy who sits way in the back corner of the room, and then reads aloud these brilliant pieces. The Grade 9s were a great pleasure to work with. I made them jump through all sorts of crazy writing hoops, and they increasingly enjoyed themselves, and I increasingly gave them challenges that I would've thought were too sophisticated for their age.

A lot of really exciting poems were written in that school this week. It frustrates me a bit that some of those poems will never be shared beyond their writers, because sometimes the kids think they've written trash and are shy to read aloud. No way around that. But I try to wander the aisles and sneak peeks at what they're writing, so at least I know that there is hidden brilliance in the room.

Some of the kids and some of the teachers didn't make it to school this morning. A logging truck hit a deer and slipped its cargo across the highway north of Radium. Everything was closed down, until an alternative route was found when a farmer opened up his property so that cars could stream across fields and through a garbage dump to avoid the logjam.

That's life in the East Kootenays.

Each day, after the classes were over, I popped down to Kinsmen Beach and gazed into the lake and up into the surrounding mountains. Do you get used to living in such a beautiful place? Do you take these sights for granted?

Over and out.


At October 31, 2007 5:22 am , Blogger Linda Crosfield said...

In answer to your last two questions, even though they were probably rhetorical: Nope. And nope. We just drove back through the province from Prince Rupert and when we reached the Slocan Valley we couldn't believe how gorgeous it was. And after an unbelievable drive through all sorts of different landscapes, too.

Glad to hear the East Koots treated you well.


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