In the north, our creative culture is distinct. We carve a space in our writing corners or studios, knowing we must dig our way out of snowdrifts, cough vehicles back to life before we can start our routines. It is no cliché; winter defines us. Stretches of highway connecting our communities are often not drivable, our aloneness is at times stark.
In February, I participated in Prince Rupert’s ‘Creative Jam Festival’. This is a chance to meet other artists, and to share writing, painting, music, or photography.
Poet/novelist Michelle Barker lead our circle. She listened deeply to our initial responses, sentences so cautiously strung together, beads of our humble beginnings were gathered, the gems mirrored back. Michelle brought us together for those few days to sparkle, shine with her encouragement.
Returning home I pay more attention, alert to conversations, moments when we see each other before slipping back into our separate cloaks. I reworked a poem yet again and start another, mailing them off to the ‘Postcards from the Edge of the World’ Literary Contest, the second part of this festival.
March 28th was the spoken word, awards night. Again the two hour drive in the pouring rain to meet at Cowpuccinoe’s coffee house alerts me to where we live. The group was casual, cozy. We read from our chairs and listened intently. I looked at the room of welcoming faces, am reminded how precious this is. We build community in these moments, knowing we will re-meet, perhaps at an art show opening, a farmers market, miles apart but the roots of recognition are here. The kindling is present; a fire burns.