In an effort to encourage young writers and give them a platform to present their work, the second edition of Coastal Voices was produced this year.
The 17-page book offers a collection of short stories and poetry from students in elementary and secondary school, many who were inspired when writers came to talk to them in class.
Teacher John Lussier came up with the idea to celebrate young writers years ago.
“This is something I had been thinking about for 15 years to get it going and it wasn’t until maybe when I went back to teaching that I had a little bit more brain space perhaps, and when Jane (Davidson) came on board we were able to put this together,” Lussier said. “This is our second year. In our first year we actually did two books, one for elementary and one for secondary. We didn’t want to edit the secondary ones, they were a little edgier but they were valued. We also didn’t want to put them in an anthology with elementary students so we did two.
“This year there were not quite as many entries for a variety of reasons so we put them together in one book.”
Davidson has been bringing writers into the classroom since 2007 as part of her role with the Sunshine Coast Writers’ Festival. She saw the value of Coastal Voices right away.
“Storytelling is a really valuable tool to building bridges of understanding. We’re hoping to instil those seeds in our students, having them consider themselves not just readers and writers but the tellers of their own stories,” Davidson said.
She also sees the need to continue producing the books of student work annually.
“The anthology is an important piece that I want to see continue as well because sports teams have a year end tournament, dancers have a year end recital, musicians have a concert. We need to honour the writers and encourage them,” she said.
Bev Craig, who is also on the team that ensures Coastal Voices gets produced each year, said the effort is an important step to honour and hopefully inspire the Coast’s gifted young authors.
On the inside cover of Coastal Voices the book notes that famous Canadian authors like Michael Ondaatje, Robert Munsch and Alice Munro all started writing young, which may be the secret to their success.
“I think that very much is the nugget behind some of the work that we do,” Craig noted.
Coastal Voices is now available at local libraries and schools on the Coast and copies can also be obtained from the Festival of the Written Arts office at no cost.
All students in the District are invited to send writing samples in for next year’s book. Only poems and prose that are a maximum of 500 words will be accepted and a panel of judges will select the writing to be included in next year’s edition.
The deadline for entries will be in the early spring and writing can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the contest will go out to schools closer to the spring deadline.