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Lucerne school gears up for ninth Student Writers Festival

By Art Joyce

In an era when texting seems poised to shred what’s left of language skills, Lucerne School is proving that writing amongst kids is alive and well.

The school is hosting its ninth festival from Monday, April 18 through Thursday, April 21. A coffeehouse featuring both elementary and secondary school student work will be held Wednesday, April 20 at the Silverton Gallery at 6:30 p.m.

“There’s so much in the media these days about kids not caring about reading and writing anymore,” festival coordinator Terry Taylor said. “I think what stands out for me more than anything else is that the festival has become such a rich part of the culture in our school.”

Starting last year with the inclusion of Governor-General Award-winner Murray Kimber, the workshops are being broadened to include visual as well as literary arts. Kimber returns this year to teach drawing to elementary classes and illustration to senior students.

A songwriting workshop will be taught by Dominique Fraissard, a Rosebery resident who first attracted widespread attention for his music while living in Australia.

Fraissard has opened for Jack Johnson, John Butler Trio, the Waifs, and Byrds legend Roger McGuinn and was a featured performer at the 2009 Salmon Arm Roots and Blues festival.

In past years, songwriting has been taught by Helen Davis and Bing Jensen of The Euphorics, currently touring the Kootenays to sold-out houses.

Contradicting the notion that poetry in the digital age is dead, slam poet queen Sheri-D Wilson will offer senior students workshops on slam/spoken word performance. Known as the ‘Mama of Dada,’ she has almost single-handedly lent legitimacy to slam poetry. Dada was an early 20th Century art movement that made use of everyday objects in odd juxtapositions and was the forerunner of the Surrealist movement probably best known through the works of Salvador Dali.

Children’s author Andrea Spalding will spend time with elementary students on Wednesday and read at the evening coffeehouse. There’s a full program for the younger kids at this year’s festival, with clay, felt and puppet workshops, culminating in a puppet show on Tuesday from 1:30-2 p.m. at the school.

“The participation level at the festival is astonishing – it’s almost 90 per cent at the elementary level and it’s very high at the secondary school level,” said Taylor.

This year’s festival is supported by the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy and the League of Canadian Poets.