Thursday 21 March 2024

Remarks and Update

Last May, the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop gave me the Kouhi Award. For more about that experience, you can go here

In their quarterly magazine, NOWW recently published my remarks. You can see them in the photo--but don't worry, they're printed below to make reading them easier.

The Kouhi Award

Remarks by Roy Blomstrom on receiving the Kouhi Award, May 12, 2023

Why do I write?

I write because when I was in grade three my teacher complimented me on my story about Peter the Parrot who accidentally flew through a window in the Empire State Building.

I write because my grade five and six teacher, Mrs. Cupples, chose me to read aloud to the class for half an hour at the end of each day while she marked papers at the back of the room. She taught me to read - really read - and how to make my own writing expressive.

I write because my grade seven teacher was Fred Goodfellow of the Founders' Museum. He taught me to examine what seemed to be old junk - but junk that became items of importance when he talked about it - keys that unlocked the past when it was examined closely and against the march of time.

I write because my grade eight teacher, Mrs. Perrier, showed me how to simplify the complex and how to reveal the importance of what sometimes seems trivial.

I write because Jim Smithers put me in charge of his adult education class the summer I turned seventeen, and a year later let me teach his grade 11 summer school class for a few weeks when he needed to be absent.

I write because Joe Stocking, a prospector, took me under his wing in the summers of both 1965 and 1966. I learned how to hunt for gold, how to paddle a canoe, how to help run a portable diamond drill, and even how to build a toilet out of a young tree. And I learned that even prospectors can get hooked on science fiction.

I write because in the summers of 1967 and 68 I unloaded grain from the boxcars that rolled into various grain elevators. At noon I learned how to read people. I learned how to play poker and win. I learned I could become any person I wished to be.

I write because in the summer of 1969 I worked on the railroad and, because the modern track-laying trains had broken down, I learned how to lay track as it was done in the 1800s. I learned how to live in the past for a time, and write about it.

I write because the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop has made available opportunities for me to share my work - poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and plays. We writers appreciate audiences.

Thank you very much for this award. It's an honour to have my name associated with the previous winners, as well as with Elizabeth Kouhi herself. I knew her only briefly at Sir Winston Churchill C.V.I. before she retired from teaching, but I remember her dedication and skill at making poetry and prose come alive for her students.

Now, why do YOU write?

~ ~ ~

Receiving this award remains one of the great honours of my life. I'm very grateful for the recognition--it's always nice--even though I acknowledge that I also love the process of writing something and making it better. Which is lucky, because that's a much longer process.

Speaking of which: My next novel, THE DEVIL'S VIOLIN: MYLLYSILTA'S STORY may make it into the world in the foreseeable future! I've also been revising two other novels and collecting prose and poetry.

My publisher, Shuniah House Books, tells me that we'll be participating in the literary market/book fair on May 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Thunder Bay Baggage Building Arts Centre. Come by for a gander at our books and all the other bookish fun happening in the region!

It's part of the NOWW LitFest activities that occur on Friday and Saturday and are bringing award-winning fantasy author Guy Gavriel Kay to Thunder Bay. For more info about workshops and signings, click here.