I have been to St. Mary’s Secondary School a few times but as the principal reminded me this morning I was invited back last year and had to opt out. Where I live, these school visits are voluntary time and volunteering that time isn’t always possible. But because I’d had to pass in the recent past, I was glad that they, like Clare Hall Secondary a week ago, responded positively to my invite to secondary schools to register for a stop on my February 2015 Schools Tour (as it was my hope that the schools I’ve had to tell no the last year or so would have been the first ones to take up this offer).
Best of Books’ Glen Toussaint and I made the drive to the school on February 10th. I read my story What’s in a Name from the latest issue of BIM: Arts for the 21st Century and sections of my book Musical Youth – and was surprised to discover as I did so that both stories had a Big Head and an Accident… seriously, Joanne, what’s with the names?
Well, this wasn’t the purpose of the names but never let it be said that funny names don’t make for good ice breakers because from the jump there was laughter from the group of students packed into the library, and, thankfully, they seemed to stick with it as the stories grew more sober. Glen was a hit with his supernatural Caribbean lore – Slapping Hands to Soucouyant. There are Dominicans and Antiguans in my family so I was fed a diet of lore from both countries, and given that much of traditional knowledge is passed through the maternal line, Dominican lore aplenty, but the Mousee was new to me and the children alike. He’s been collecting and blogging these mostly oral tales. The group of teens had lots of what ifs for Glen particular as relates to that last folk tale after and I tried to encourage them to turn those what ifs into stories of their own.
I spoke briefly with one of those teen reader-writers as she perused the books table who made my day when she said, “this book especially makes me want to write”, referencing Musical Youth – I’m happy she found this story of teens, music, friendship, young love, really relatable; and I hope she does indeed feel inspired to tell her own stories.
Much like the group at Clare Hall, they asked questions about what inspired my stories and how long the writing process takes. With how fast I was reading, I’m just surprised they could keep up.