Everyone has a story, and for a group of Saskatoon Public Schools students telling their stories has resulted in their work being chosen for Windscript, the annual compilation of high school literature published by the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild.
Eight students from five collegiates were among the 28 writers selected for publication in Windscript's 37th annual edition. That includes Sohila Elgedawi, a Grade 12 student at Bedford Road Collegiate, who received the Jerrett Enns Award for Poetry for her poem Supermarket Flowers.
Three Bedford Road students — Elgedawi, Anna Dolgova, and Momin Bilal — had their work included in the publication. Bedford Road teacher Teriann Walling says the opportunity for recognition provided by Windscript is important encouragement that helps young writers feel confident in their ability and often inspires them to keep writing.
"They are so incredibly proud of themselves; they are published writers! They feel validated like their voice has been heard," Walling said. "I have had students who after being published decided to get journals and write daily. They see themselves in a different light, they are the tellers of stories. It is incredible to see, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of their journey."
Bilal, a Grade 10 student, saw [WT1] his poem New Clothes chosen for publication. Dolgova, a student in Grade 12, had the short story To Nobody At All included in the anthology.
Walling had 18 students submit their work for consideration this year. She said many students have dabbled in writing and just need the opportunity and a bit of a push to put their writing out there. As a teacher, it's important to find opportunities, inspire, and encourage them.
"I tell every class I teach that there is an opportunity for publication and that if they have any writing, we can work to get it submitted. Momin Bilal, who was accepted this year, was in my Science 10 class," she said.
"I believe there is a writer in all of us and with some encouragement students feel that sharing their work is not a solo process. The act of preparing, perfecting, and submitting a piece is sometimes just as exciting as getting it published. I always talk with them about how, depending on who may be reading it at the time, they may or may not get chosen but this is only the first of many that they can submit. Not being published is not failure. Being vulnerable and sharing your work with others is a win in itself."
In addition to the three Bedford Road students, the other Saskatoon Public Schools students whose work was included in the Windscript anthology were:
- Jane Gurney of Walter Murray Collegiate for the prose piece The Stain;
- Sel Zbetnoff of Nutana Collegiate for the poem Darling, our life is a circus;
- Evelyn Fourstar of Nutana Collegiate for the poem Mind Palace;
- Heidi Terfloth of the Online Learning Centre for the prose piece Running Away for the Night; and
- Graeme Hopkins of Evan Hardy Collegiate for the prose piece Buried Treasure.
In a social media-filled society that embraces short bites of text, images and video, the learning involved in writing and the communication of thoughts and emotions in traditional prose and poetry remains a valuable experience for students, Walling said.
"What is more important than stories? As Thomas King said, 'the truth about stories, is that's all we are.' You would be surprised how engaged students are with writing, reading, and learning about other people's stories whether that be through poetry, media or short stories," she said.
"Let's not forget that social media has many stories of its own. There are pages and pages of posts on poetry, creativity, and writing; it is just in a different medium than we are used to. Students tell me about this all the time. The stories have a different face, but they are still the same."
The complete Windscript anthology can be read online at the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild website.