I'm back from a whirlwind trip to Vancouver Island/Vancouver and I just received the following email from one of the volunteers for the Victoria School of Writing:
Dear Friends of VSW:
With great regret, we announce the suspension of operations of The Victoria School of Writing. Competition from other writing programs and persistent difficulty in filling positions for the all-volunteer board have necessitated this unfortunate move. We did not make the decision as a result of a crisis but with clear analysis and a bank account in the black. We ran a successful summer school and fall program of courses and our reputation remains solid. Our exit will be graceful.
We deeply appreciate your support over the thirteen years since the school's founding. The school has benefitted from your gifts of time and money as well as your enthusiastic participation in workshops, courses and literary events. We hope you have benefitted, as well, from your association with the school.
If you have questions, please go here for the names and phone numbers of VSW directors available to answer them.
Thank you for your understanding. We wish you much success with all your creative endeavours.
The Board of Directors
My last post was about the beginning of the trip, a reunion of a bunch of us who met at VSW in July 2005 where we spent the week delving into poetry with George Bowering.
It changed my life, in one of those this-is-where-the-direction-changed sort of ways.
There were twelve of us in the class. One dropped out after the first day. At the end of the week, we exchanged email addresses and after a few cyber-exchanges, two more opted out of the conversation, leaving ten of us, including George, and we stayed in touch. In the fall of 2006 we rented a house in East Van and arranged to have George come and work with us for four days, but on the day we were to begin he was called away because of a death in the family. We salvaged the week, which was, of course, different than we'd expected. And we continued to stay in touch.
Cut to last weekend, in Victoria. Eight of the nine of us turned up for a VSW reunion weekend, hosted at one of our homes.
George and Jean were there. One of us flew from California.
One came up from Washington. I braved the snowy/slushy roads and drove down from Castlegar. We spent the weekend immersed in poetry: reading it to each other;
encouraging each other and making suggestions;
doing a little writing;
and oh yeah, there was wine.
Four of us went out and read at the open mic at the Black Stilt on Friday night.
We celebrated small victories in the world of poetry. We came away replenished.
I know not everyone who attended VSW is as fortunate as our group, but over the thirteen years it existed VSW provided a opportunity for a lot of emerging and not-so-emerging writers to work with some wonderful instructors and I'm sorry to hear it's over. However, I am certain the decision to put it to bed was the right one, given the constraints of time and money such an undertaking requires and the difficulties procuring the necessary dollars now that so much public funding has dried up. I'm thinking, too, of the BC Festival of the Arts; another great event (for several artistic disciplines) that is no more.
A big three cheers to the current BOD. Offering phone numbers where one can call to ask questions or make comments is pretty classy, if you ask me.
"We hope you have benefitted, as well, from your association with the school."?
Well, speaking for myself, I hardly have words.