The St. Albert Public Library’s writer-in-residence is pushing an early start to Alberta Culture Days with a series of presentations and programs, the first of which arrives tomorrow evening.
New in Town: Immigrant Stories is author Marty Chan’s chance to share some of his personal history as a way of showing people both the trials and tribulations of an immigrant family in Canada and how they can use their own lives to develop their writer’s voice.
Chan moved to Morinville when he was just starting Grade 2. “Being the only Chinese kid in a small town” was, he explained, an eye-opening experience that proved to be a formative point in his life.
“You’re already on the sidelines because all the other kids would have known each other from kindergarten and Grade 1. You add the fact that I am Chinese and everyone else is either English or French-Canadian … made me a bit of an outcast,” he began.
“It was tough to fit in in the beginning. I think a lot of the very self-deprecating humour that I have today came out of that childhood experience, just finding that there were kids who would tease me and make fun of my ethnicity. As I grew up, I found out that if I could get the kids to laugh at the things I wanted them to laugh at then they were less prone to make fun of me.”
He added that writers often take negative moments in their lives such as being the obvious stranger and turn them into positive moments through their art.
“I think that being an outsider as a writer gives you the perfect opportunity to observe and reflect, and make commentary. It also allows you to step into other people’s shoes.”
The all-ages program is free and runs tomorrow evening from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Forsyth Room at the library.
On Friday, he will be going back to elementary school, offering writing workshops to the students at Leo Nickerson. On Saturday, he will return to St. Albert Place to play host to Art of the Spoken Word at the MusĂ©e HĂ©ritage Museum. Starting with Chan, various writers will stand up and read from their own works. The deadline for submissions is today. Please visit www.startsfest.ca for more information.
That event takes place on Oct. 1 from 3 to 5:30 p.m.
Chan wraps up StArtsFest and Culture Days with an exploration of graphic cartoons. Comic Book Lovers, Assemble features the writer as the moderator of a panel of local experts including Jay Bardyla, Jeff Martin and Joanne Wojtysiak as they discuss the ins and outs of comics.
“This is a cool panel for anybody who has ever had an interest in writing comics, or getting into the business of print comics or digital comics. Three people who are well-versed in the world of comics will share their expertise and talk about the ins and outs of the industry,” he said.
That program runs on Oct. 2 from 12:30 to 2 p.m.