Reflections On the Year at Parkdale Street Writers

Between Insanity and Brillianceby Dizia, Jeffrey and Addi (2009-2010 Program Assistants)
Written for Between Insanity and Brilliance: Stories and Poems from the Basement of Discontent

This is the third year Parkdale Street Writers has existed, and it’s been a wonderful combination of newcomers and veterans. We’ve had a variety of fulfilling workshops and our group continues to evolve and reach out to different spectrums of the writing field.

There was the amazing songwriting session with Ziadh Rabbani and his miniature guitar, the soft-spoken and extremely wise novelist Martin Mordecai, Willow Dawson and her edutaining month-long comic book workshop, Kristyn Dunnion’s insightful writing lessons, the hilarious Clifton Joseph’s constant singing and exercise on writing about violence, and Billeh Nickerson’s perspectives on how to maintain a livable work/life balance. And these are just a few of the guests!

We’re certain that the participants in PSW come back every week not only because of the creative and engaging workshops but also the heartwarming family-like atmosphere that is cultivated and reinforced whenever we get together. It’s a safe environment that does not discriminate on any level, where peace, tranquility and an atmosphere of sharing and equal respect is freely given.

How many other groups around the city give young writers the opportunity to work with such a well-known and accomplished Toronto author? Emily Pohl-Weary expresses her gratitude and love for her childhood community of Parkdale. She also freely shares the wisdom and experience acquired through her career as a writer with everyone who cares to learn. And as wonderful as Emily is as a workshop leader, we know that people keep coming back because they’re learning in such a fun sharing environment that is not structured along the typical school system style.

With the outstanding success of the group, and the great publicity we have been getting through word of mouth and beyond, local writers are expressing their desire to work with this unique collective of creative minds. There is growing support on every level, even giving the writers the opportunity to get their work published in this book that is compiled at the end of each year.

Last but absolutely not least, we could not say enough about the positive, heart-warming friendships that have been born here. Participants relish making genuine connections like these and value the emotional, intellectual and creative support felt at PSW between the student writers themselves. No matter who or where or what goes on in our lives, every Tuesday afternoon, we all try our best to come to our wonderful little escape where we can share our writing, thoughts, beliefs, frustrations, fears, secrets, and most treasured ideas with like-minded friends.

There is also a consistently strong but gentle force guiding and encouraging every single writer here to continue their writing no matter where they are, whether with us at the Parkdale Library or at home. The group does not end on Tuesdays at 7, as Emily always keeps the door open for writers and newcomers to stay connected through the Internet on our Facebook page or our website, as well as encouraging everyone to come back to the group after the summer vacation, as it runs primarily during the school year, approximately between October and July.

Parkdale Street Writers has always and forever been a sacred space to find peace of mind, get inspired by other people and eat some delicious and healthy food! There is no place like PSW, and we remain eternally grateful to Emily and the Parkdale Library for allowing this to continue every week.