“My motive for writing is to do something good in the world.”
In February 2018, renowned author Anne Michaels spoke to an auditorium of Grade 11 and 12 students.
The Toronto-born writer and poet read her poetry and excerpts from her novels including her acclaimed novel Fugitive Pieces, a book Grade 11 students are studying. “I thought it was really interesting and I enjoyed hearing the excerpts she read,” said Grade 12 student Polly.
Ms Michaels engaged with student questions about her writing process and shared her journey as a writer. “No matter where a book travels, for me, the end has to offer some sort of redemption. It has to take us to the other side,” said Ms Michaels.
This was a sentiment that struck a chord with some aspiring student writers. “It’s really nice for us to get insight into what it’s like to be a writer because it’s so interesting,” said Grade 12 student Claire.
Branksome welcomed Ms Michaels as this year’s Rebecca CHISHOLM Clarkes’66 guest writer. To honour Mrs. Clarkes’ love of literature and creative writing, her classmates, friends and family established the speaker series in her memory, to bring a well-known writer to Branksome Hall each year.
“This is an annual opportunity for our community to come together and celebrate the written word,” said Jillian Strimas, English Instructional Leader and organizer.
Branksome has previously hosted esteemed writers such as Thomas King, Miriam Toews, Lawrence Hill and Heather O’Neill. Adding Ms Michaels to the list was an obvious choice. “Anne Michaels crafts some of the most brilliant sentences I’ve ever had the pleasure to read,” said Ms Strimas. “She writes with extreme clarity and control and is able to condense the most universal and complex human truths into a few simple words.”
Ms Strimas adds, “For example, take this line from Fugitive Pieces: ‘To be proved true, violence need only occur once. But good is proved true by repetition.’”
Over the course of Ms Michaels’ career, she has garnered many accolades including being awarded the Orange Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Gugganheim Fellowship. She is also currently serving as Toronto’s Poet Laureate.