Written voices heard


Photo by Heather Davidson
Photo by Heather Davidson

Two students from Wilfrid Laurier University have been chosen to be part of a workshop with Lawrence Hill, author of the award-winning book, The Book of Negroes.

Cheyenne Goolcharan, a fourth-year honours global studies student, and Vanessa Chambers-Stewart, a second-year Spanish and women and gender studies student, are two of the 25 participants who were accepted to attend the workshop.

“I freaked out right away because Lawrence Hill is one of my favourite authors,” said Goolcharan.

Both Goolcharan and Chambers-Stewart explained that Thandiwe Gregg, member liaison for the Laurier Association of Black Students, sent an e-mail to members promoting the workshop.

Chambers-Stewart said Gregg recommended the workshop to her because of  her work on Laurier’s “Afro Excel,” which is an online magazine platform community that connects all members of ABS at different institutions.

Goolcharan has been a part of ABS at Laurier since she was a general member in first-year until she became the executive member liaison in third-year.

Chambers-Stewart has been a general member since first year.

The application process for the workshop was intimidating and difficult, according to both students.

Applications were due on Oct. 22, and the acceptances were sent out last week. The workshop, called “Creative Writing: An Introduction to How to Write and Publish Fiction and Non-Fiction,” is on Nov. 29 at the Barbara Frum Library in Toronto.

Goolcharan said the workshop was advertised for students who wanted to get their writing published.

Although she is planning on writing a novel in the future, she said she’s not a huge writer.

“I don’t really have anything. All I have is poems because I’m a poet, so I sent in one of my poems and low and behold, they liked it,” she explained.

According to Chambers-Stewart, taking a snippet from one of her novels was the hardest part of the application process.

The application required a résumé and a piece of written work.

“At first, I was scared, but I thought about it and was like, ‘Okay, let me just go for it,’” Chambers-Stewart said.

Chambers-Stewart writes a variety of poems and novels and has had a few of her works published with other compilations of young writers.

Her first published piece was in a writing club in her grade school.

Both Goolcharan and Chambers-Stewart claim to be huge fans of Hill’s The Book of Negroes, as well as his other work, Blood.

“He’s very inspirational and he’s kind of an iconic Canadian writer,” said Goolcharan.

Both students hope to gain personal and professional experience through the workshop.

“I just hope to learn from his wisdom and see the potential that I have to be a writer, because that’s what I’m planning to do, and I want to network with people as well,” said Goolcharan.

“From this workshop, I hope to gain more experience and I hope to gain connections through publishing. I feel my voice is very important and needs to be heard and just building a relationship with him and all the members,” Chambers-Stewart said.

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