PORT HARDY—By turns humorous and emotional, about a dozen graduates of a recent writing workshop shared their work before a packed house at Cafe Guido last week.
A collaboration between North Island College and SD85’s First Nations programs, the two-and-a-half day workshop brought college and high-school students together with community members under the guidance of Duncan Mercredi.
Mercredi is an accomplished Cree/Metis poet and storyteller, originally from Grand Rapids and now resident in Winnipeg. He has four published books of poetry to his name as well as several contributions in anthologies and periodicals.
As Mercredi explained to the crowd assembled for the reading, “The hardest part was getting them to read out loud; the talent was already there.”
From Chrissy Johnny’s personal recount of her family’s forced move in 1964, to Joy Walkus’ missive on time, to Rory Korhonen’s tale of joy and regret, the crowd was treated to a diverse range of styles and subject before Mercredi himself took the floor in the Mar. 26 event.
The masterful storyteller drew the crowd in with his poetry and tales of solitaire with the devil, at times dropping to a whisper before suddenly raising the volume and causing many to start.
He congratulated all who participated and encouraged them to form a local writers’ collective and publish a chapbook of their work.
“It was such an amazing experience to have gone through,” participant Mantlidas Wallas said in a Facebook post. “As nervous as I was, I couldn’t help but feel proud of all that we accomplished.”