September 2017 – Author & Poet Michelle Barker

MichelleSummer break being over we now were starting the new year of meetings for creative writing. Author & Poet Michelle Barker was our special guest this month. She was born and raised in Vancouver, travelled a lot for work and pleasure, and ended up back in Vancouver.

Michelle was the winner of gold National Magazine award in personal journalism in 2002, and finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s literature Award in 2016.

Upon the opening of her presentation about poetry Michelle advised us to bring all the five senses into our writing. Images should not be just visual for the reader. This sounded very challenging, but by the end of the evening one could see (and hear and smell and touch and taste).

Of-course, one big step for Tea & Ink members present was to learn more about poetry that doesn’t rhyme. Michelle eased us through by showing us and explaining the formation of “free verse” and we were able to really appreciate it afterwards.

Michelle brought two poems with her to demonstrate the way to read a poem out loud. This was an eye-opener to Mo in particular. Sherry read the first one. It was strange to see that this poem wasn’t read by the line, but by the punctuation. It made sense to do that. Natalya read the second poem which right through to the end…and it was one page long…didn’t have any punctuation at all. It was meant to be read without stopping. So very unusual.

Following the readings and a discussion about the formation of these two poems Michelle then conducted an activity. We each were instructed to take 10 minutes to write a memory of something. Then we all spilt up into twos. Then we had to take turns reading our mini story whilst our partner jotted down just individual words of note.  The follow up would be to write a poem using those notable words.  Perhaps our next meeting will start with us listening to these new poems we should have written by then. Interesting!

Thank you, Michelle for this very pleasant evening. It was truly great to have you as our guest speaker.

Books by Michelle Barker:

  • The Beggar King – a YA fantasy novel (2013); published by Thistledown Press Ltd
  • Old Growth Clear Cut – Poems of Haida Gwaii , Queen Charlotte Island (2012); published by Leaf Press
  • A Year of Borrowed Men, illustrated by: Renné Benoit (2015); published by Pajama Press Inc
  • Poems written by Michelle also appeared in the Best Canadian Poetry anthology (2011)

Michelle’s website:
Her Blog: