ARMCHAIR BOOK CLUB: Celebrated author hosting writing workshop in Penticton

Richard Wagamese, currently one of Canada’s most prominent writers, is coming to Penticton. And not just for a short stopover.

Richard Wagamese, currently one of Canada’s most prominent writers, is coming to Penticton. And not just for a short stopover.

Wagamese will be in Penticton next week to give a three-day writing workshop to high school students, and to dazzle the public with an evening storytelling performance.

“I’ve seen Richard give a storytelling performance before, and it’s a magical thing,” said Anne Tenning, the school district’s vice principal of aboriginal education and event organizer.

At the storytelling performance called Our Voices Our Stories, Wagamese will take on the persona of characters from several of his books.

In the second half of the evening, high school students who participate in his three-day writing workshop will share short selections of their work.

“Several students are really excited about getting to work with Richard,” said Tenning. In all, 20 Grade 11 and 12 students from the three high schools in the district will take part in the workshop.

Students need to be interested in the aboriginal aspect of the workshop, but all are welcome to attend.

Tenning emphasized that this isn’t just for top-mark students.

“Richard has a real gift for working with anyone,” she said. “He really helps writers build upon their own writing and storytelling skills.”

Of course, some students may be a bit star struck. Wagamese, the author of six novels, a book of poetry and five non-fiction titles, became well-known to Canadians this year when his novel Indian Horse was featured on Canada Reads 2013.

“Some students are feeling nervous about working with him, and a little nervous about presenting that night. But I’m sure he’ll help them to build on their own confidence,” Tenning said.

Teachers at the high school were so excited to meet the author of Indian Horse, and promote aboriginal writing, they formed their own book club. Wagamese will be speaking to this crowd of 70 readers at a separate event at Okanagan College.

The public is welcome to attend Wagamese’s storytelling performance, called Our Voices Our Stories, at Princess Margaret High School, Wednesday,  April 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is by donation. Wagamese will take the stage for the first hour, followed by student readings. For more information contact Anne Tenning at atenning@summer.com.

Heather Allen is a writer and reader living in Penticton.

allenh@telus.net