A reflection on the Writer-in-Residence program at McMaster University and my personal experience meeting fellow inspiring writers!
If grit and beauty both inspire and repulse you, you’ve likely found a home in Hamilton.
There is no one word to describe a city. Poverty, potholes–even beauty is an unfair hole in which to sink a city. The ever-changing pulse of a place constantly cultivates new talent and creates new possibilities. We are lucky to experience a great shift in Hamilton from industrial work to industrious art. The reflection of these possibilities reside in the hearts and work of artists.
Recently, McMaster University held an evening at the Faculty Hall celebrating the Writer-in-Residence program. Burlington native Kim Echlin was the 2015-2016 Writer-in-Residence, whose newest novel, Under the Visible Life, was recently featured atHamilton’s GritLIT festival. To accompany the evening was pianist Jason Scozzari, a McMaster piano student who picked up the art at the late age of fourteen. Together, these two harmonized a duet of words and music that inspired the audience.
Alongside her daily work as a writer, Echlin involved herself with the Hamilton arts and library community. She has been a hugely positive influence in the community, helping local writers cultivate their craft and perfect their work for various modes.
Seven writers from across the city gathered at the event to share their writing with the audience. All seemed influenced by Hamilton in one way or another, and all seemed proud to share bits and pieces of the city as their characters experienced it.
Each author’s piece of writing created a puzzle, evoking intense imagery and diverse voices. Poverty was a central theme in multiple stories, one in particular discussing a woman from Wentworth Street who was weathered from a harsh life of mental illness and homelessness. Another story contrasted this through the life of a musician, living with her family on the Mountain Brow and dealing with lifelong struggles of her own.
Two brave authors shared pieces of their memoirs. One discussed a harsh reality of the closet in the dark basement becoming the caregiver to multiple children. In a weathered breath, another author shared his stories of sailing in the GTA. These truths shared by Hamilton writers were both relatable and inspiring to the audience. It was a riveting evening for all.
Writing, if done properly, sheds a light of truth on any subject. To continue the journey, follow this link to read the bios and excerpts of these brave writers living and working in Hamilton.
-Nichole Fanara, Chief Editor – Short Fiction