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Wild Words North

Some thoughts from the Peace Liard regional writing conference

For the second year in a row, Wild Words North, a writers conference sponsored by the Peace Liard Regional Arts Council, was virtual. (Held near the end of September.) I must acknowledge Donna Kane, who did an amazing job pulling it together to make it professional, interesting, and with a wide variety of topics and workshops.

Virtual has a lot of advantages. We had a wide variety of topics and experts – something that is possible through the power of the internet without people actually having to travel.

The downside for me is exactly the same as the upside. I attend so many things virtually these days, and have access to so much learning online, that I crave something in person.

However, I still enjoyed the sessions I attended and the recordings I watched. Now for some takeaways:

I was intrigued by a workshop by George Murray on enjambment in poetry (Basically where you put your breaks in the poem.) I am not a poet and don’t really have any aspirations to become one, but I did appreciate what I learned and had fun, too, since it was a small group so we were able to do some writing together.

One thing that really intrigued me was his simplified breakdown of the differences between non-fiction, fiction, and poetry.

Non-fiction – conveys information first, the narrative second, and tone & feeling third, meaning there are fewer levels of possible interpretation.

Fiction – conveys narrative first, tone & feeling second, and information third, meaning there is more room for interpretation.

Poetry – conveys tone & feeling first, narrative second, and information third, leaving the most opportunity for levels and layers of interpretation.

Then we did a very interesting exercise. We took the same passage of prose and read it as non-fiction. (Basically a police report.) Then he read it as the beginning of a fiction chapter. The meaning and feeling were so much different, even though the words had not changed! Finally, we all experimented with changing it to a poem with different line breaks. Mind blown! (His version was naturally the most intriguing with multiple layers of meaning just by where he broke the lines!)

Anyway, it certainly opened my eyes to the complexities of free verse.

I may share more about the conference in future posts. I’ll also be sharing about InScribe’s recent Fall Conference highlights!

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