Rampage:the pathology of an epidemic

Rampage:the pathology of an epidemic
book cover

Thursday 14 November 2019

Slip and Slide from my new book Unlocking the Tin Box

Slip and Slide
In 1957 when I was in grade three we moved to Kenora, Ontario. We lived in a tent for a while and then we moved into town. The area was crawling with kids and all we did, night after night, was go to the park. Central Park was surrounded on all four sides by apartment buildings. At night kids spilled out of the apartments and joined in endless games of hide and seek. Life was super good. Dad was driving taxi and made lots of tips so we were eating. On weekends my older sister and I went to Eagle River to stay with cousins. I was surrounded by family. I got on the back of a cow for the first time, cleaned out a chicken coop and swam in a murky, stinky duck pond. Everyone it seemed played a fiddle or a guitar, and there were always sing-a-longs, jokes and laughter. The only downside for me was the new school. Central School was a huge three story monster that was yellow stucco and had a brown structure that looked like a silo on the side of the building. I was only a few days into the new school year when I discovered the horrors the silo had to offer.
As we lived in that apartment for a good year, I faced a year of torture every time there was a fire drill. The silo contained a circular slide. Sounded like fun but the slide housed in the silo was never polished by the boys who were supposed to keep it shiny and slippery. Whispering playground kids said the boys were too busy smoking to do the job they were supposed to. The first time the fire bell rang the teacher told us to line up and go quickly down the hall to the fire escape. I followed the kid in front of me and found myself being thrown into the chute by a big male teacher who grabbed me by my shoulders and pushed me through the opening. I tried to hang onto the metal walls, grasping the slippery opening but the teacher pried my fingers off and told me to ‘get going’, with a shove.
I slid for a bit then stalled on the slide that just was not slippery. It was dark, stuffy and I could hear other kids screaming as they were flung into the third floor opening. I knew they were coming but I was stuck. The pile started to build, as one, after another, children were bashing into me. I scrambled with my little legs trying to sort of run down the slide. I stood up in the small space and shuffled down sometimes being knocked over. My ear was bleeding from a shoe grazing it and then after a few minutes I hit a slippery patch and landed on my butt. I went down and out the chute. At the bottom a teacher grabbed my legs preventing me from landing on my feet and actually flinging me to the ground. I hit the pavement knees first, did a somersault and landed legs spread out with my tiny green skirt hiked over my waist. My knees were skinned and bleeding, blood dripped from my ear and all around me children we crying for their mommy.
Eventually, a teacher helped me to my feet and sent me to the office with the line-up of injured kids, which was about half the school. In the nurses office they gave us a drop of iodine and a Band-Aid and sent us back to the class. Nobody ever said ‘sorry’ or ‘that won't happen again’. I went home from school and told my parents I was never going back and even if they made me I would never go down that slide again. But of course I did go back to school and once a month I went down the slide during fire drill. I learned to keep moving by using my feet to pull me along. Then there were the surprise fire drills when the boys actually polished the slide and we whipped down so fast we couldn't catch our breath. Once a teacher flung me so hard through the hole I hit the top and came out at the bottom with a goose egg on my head. Spiraling down a dark hole never seemed like a smart thing to me. I felt like Alice in Wonderland on fire drill day.
I had a teacher I didn't like much. She called me to the front of the class one day and told me to pull up my socks. Being a good girl, I reached down and tugged at my socks. The kids started laughing at me. How was I to know it was just a cliché, warning me to do a better job? I thought my socks were hanging over my shoes. And I can’t tell you how many times I looked for that chip on my shoulder and could not find it. I stumbled through grade three feeling overwhelmed and misunderstood.
I wasn't a very fast runner but I did like the high jump. All spring I practiced the shortest run for sports day. I think it was the hundred yard dash. I needed to succeed at something. The year before I had won a Citizenship Award at Model School in Vancouver, B.C. and I needed a win. I worked super hard on training at lunchtime, even giving up playing marbles for a week. I was a sure winner, I thought. My best friend who was good at everything made a deal with me. Because I wasn't good enough to get too many ribbons, she pinky swore she would let me win, this one race.
We lined up, all the grade three girls. She winked at me and I smiled at her. Then we were off and I sprinted as fast as I could but I guess the competitive bug kicked in for her a couple of feet from the finish line. With a burst of energy she blitzed by me and crossed the line. I was so angry with her that I crossed the line and kept running. I ran off the field, across the street and down the block to my home which was two blocks away. I told Mom I was never going back but there I was the following Monday. I never missed a day. I was proud to have perfect attendance. I was never friends with that girl again. I did carry a grudge.
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Tuesday 18 December 2012

Auditions/pre-audition workshop

Art Matters Society and the Main Artery
Presents Eve Ensler’s
The Vagina Monologues
Saturday, February 9th, 2012
At the Capital Theatre  
Sponsored by the
Portal Players
Tickets $15 at the Main Artery, 4969 Argyle Street
Pre-Audition Workshop Sat Jan 12
Auditions Sunday Jan 13th-open to any woman who wants to audition-no experience necessary-only 3 rehearsals.
  Pre-Audition Workshop for the Vagina Monologues-theatre exercises, discussion on the play, the history and impact on the world-stage of Eve Ensler's famous production. Empower yourself! (you do not have to attend this workshop to audition on Sunday but the insight into the play will help with your audition and understanding of the production).Auditions Sunday Jan 13th 1-4 PM --please call Gwynne at 250-723-7883 to book an audition time or email gwynne1@telus.net

Monday 27 August 2012

Port Alberni offers bursts of creativity and lots of talent . . .my challenge is to tap into that talent pool. I am looking for actors and those who are afraid to call themselves actors but want to act. It is my hope that I can, along with the help of Art Matters Society, foster and encourage the arts in Port Alberni through live, unjuried theatre. This is a casting call for people to perform in our own curious and fun brand of radio plays . . .we hope to do them at least once a month at our new store the Main Artery and if we can find enough actors we will do them once in awhile at Steamworks; a cool coffee shop around the corner.
My play Breadlines is being performed Friday November 23 and Saturday November 24th at 7:30 PM at Char's Landing . . .another cool place, just up the road. I specifically need a young woman to play a key role---someone under the age of 25 and there are roles for several other characters ages 20-50. Experience is not necessary. Auditions are Thursday Sept 6th at 7 PM at the Main Artery, 4969 Argyle Street, Port Alberni. Email me gwynne1@telus.net if you have any questions or just drop by-cold read.
*We are offering tons of theatrical and creative workshops . . .coming soon. Creative Art Play-Theatre for kids ages 8-12 starting Sept 11th. Seven weeks of learning the craft of putting on a play, producing it and performing in it. Super inexpensive for your budding star--$90.
*Creative & Freelance Writing for adults (13+) Starts Sept 13th . . .covers all genres and helps you discover your creative voice. Lots of motivational prompts to get started. $80 for five sessions.
*Drop In Scrap Booking starts Sept 21-$5
*Creative Jounaling for kids Sept 24th-4 weeks-$60
Call the store for details    250-723-3331

Monday 13 August 2012

New Town, New Venture

Owner hopes store will be a hub of activity

New Argyle Street craft supply shop offers hard-to-find items, original art and a venue for workshops

Kristi Dobson, For The Times

Published: Friday, August 10, 2012
While walking past Main Artery on Argyle Street, the storefront looks like a regular craft supply shop. Stepping inside, though, one realizes it is much more than that. Not only providing hard-to-find items and original art, owner Gwynne Hunt hopes her new venture will be a hub of activity for workshops and live performance art.
Hunt recently relocated to Port Alberni from the Fraser Valley, where she lived for the past 25 years. She was highly involved in creative fields including desktop publishing, writing and the theatre. She recently published a book chronicling the lives of missing women and children in British Columbia and has books of poetry in print. For 14 years, Hunt had produced the community's Fringe Festival as well as about 15 productions that travelled around the province.
Putting these skills to use to help others is what drives Hunt's passion for the arts, which she does as the artistic director of the Arts Matters Society. The organization fosters and encourages the arts, and by doing so, raises funds to benefit local non-profit organizations, mainly those which assist with violence against women.
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When Hunt visited Port Alberni last fall, she learned of the Rotary Arts District and realized she could bring her idea of the Main Artery into fruition.
The cosy, high-ceiling space near the corner of Third and Argyle was available and provides the perfect surrounding for her plans. Hunt's vision is to provide workshops in creative freelance writing, art play for children, scrapbooking, art therapy and others complimenting the seasons.
"I did Spirit to Heal workshops in Mission for women going through abuse, divorce, death or other tragedies and there is something very healing about working on creative art projects together," Hunt said. "It allows women to talk and open up. I hope to do those here in the future too."
For those workshops, Hunt introduced participants to the art of wax dolls and altered books. She said she saw a similar ability for self-expression to shine through while working with senior citizens on storytelling and those with brain injuries taking part in improv theatre and poetry readings. As such, she has set up a stage area to provide the local performing arts community with an outlet for their talents and plans to hold regular evening performances.
Already a member of Portal Players Dramatic Society, Hunt has met many local performers but knows there are many more creative artists that may be looking for space to sell their work.
Along with paintings, photography, music, intricate polymer clay bracelets and other jewelry, she welcomes consignments from other artists. She stands by her view that art is best nonjuried and is open to a variety of mediums.
"Art comes in so many forms," she said. "It is such an amazing way to express yourself and it can be so healing, so I don't believe we can judge others' work."
On the retail front, Hunt strives to provide items that have not been available in town, including specific paints and brushes, soap and soap making supplies, wax and beads. She looks forward to meeting even more new people, as her first impression of the city was its friendly atmosphere.
The grand opening of Main Artery takes place on Saturday, Aug. 18 with a drop-in scrapbook session at 1 p.m. and two radio plays taking place at 8 p.m. Drop by 4969 Argyle Street to see what the store has to offer.

Monday 16 January 2012

A New Year . . . A New Plan!

I'm busy workig on my 'memoirs'. I'm not going to thinly disguise my life story as fiction so I know I am headed in the 'write' direction. Since I finished my book Rampage:the pathology of an epidemic I have not been writing. I haven't even been writing and producing plays so it is time to start a new project. After reading The Glass Castle (which is similar to my childhood story)I thought that I have overlooked the day to day experience in my writing. I always focus on the dramatic or the 'big' tragedies but my life growing up reads a lot like the above mentioned book.  I will also write a new play this year . . . I have to.
Creatively for now I am working on producing and directing The Vagina Monologues March 24th at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium in Abbotsford. Tickets are $20 and will be available at A & D Music on Montrose (there will be other locations TBA) BUT if you bring a pair of new or gently used women's shoes you can purchase a ticket for $15.
We need the shoes for our March 25 Memory March with a focus on a Shoe Memorial. Display of shoes with murdered women's names from BC starts at 11 AM. Speakers and vigil at 1 PM in the Civic Plaza behind MCA.  This event is to honour the over 4,000 missing and murdered women and children on The List in the book Rampage.
Our non-profit Art Matter's Society could use some help organizing these events-email me at gwynne1@telus.net

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Winning an Award

Who said winning doesn't matter? Well, I did, five minutes before I won. I went to the Arty Awards (sponsored by the Abbotsford Art's Council) on Saturday night and didn't think I would win a Literary Award because 3 years ago I won the Outstanding Instructor Award--really, I didn't think I could win twice but I am glad I did.
The Literary Award means a lot to me-all the years of writing, teaching writing, working at being a writer . . .feels like an award well-deserved to me. I pretended I was sick for 3 weeks when I was 14 and stayed home from school to write my first novel. Over the next almost 50 years I have been a working writer; editor, publisher, freelance writer, journalist, playwright, poet. 
I have taught children, youth, people with brain injuries . . .and I have promoted, mentored and been a writer all of my life.  When they called my name I felt very proud. The three years I spent working on my book Rampage;the pathology of an epidemic were the hardest writing years of my life.  Who said winning doesn't matter . . .i t does!
After we published my book; we published my husband Dave's book of poetry Knee-Slapper and my poetry collection bruises and bad haircuts.  We have three viable and interesting literary works that will look great in our new art's centre in Port Alberni . . . can't wait to get there, can't wait to move on.  It feels like creatively I have gone as far as I can in the Fraser Valley.  But wait . . . don't write me off yet (that is what you do to writers, kill them with cliches like write me off)--we are producing The Vagina Monologues one more time (shows number 19/20) March 24th and doing the Memory March on the 25th in Abbotsford and I am sure there is a lot more to come whether we move by next May or not.
That is one of the wonderful things about being a writer---it doesn't matter how old you are, it is never too late to start and you don't have to retire.  Metaphors be with you!


We have decided we like the creativity and art feel of Vancouver Island. And of course it helps that our son and family (precious grandkids) have moved there, so we are leaving the Fraser Valley and moving to the Island. So, our house is for sale by owner right now;
3 bedroom, updated, stylish laminate flooring, gas fireplace, roof is only 4 years old, hot water tank is only 3 years old. Our house backs onto a beautiful little park--lots of trees, shurbs and plants in the yard; a kind of little zen space in the back.
We are listing the house for $339,900 and that includes fridge, gas stove, dishwasher, washer, dryer and all window coverings. We are even incluidng the 42" flat screen tv that is mounted on a dark wood stand attached to the wall and a bamboo mirror attached to the bedroom floor, closet built-ins.
We are going to open a funky little art's business in Port Alberni; a place where we can sell books, do our radio plays and offer local artist's a place to perform and hang their fine art. Of course I will do theatre and writing workshops and my daughter-in-law Jennifer is going to take on some arts and crafts workshops. Perhaps a recording stuio on-site--lots of big plans. But we need to sell our house in Abbotsford first. If you are interested in a 'ready to move into' home in Abbotsford or know anyone who is . . .send them my way.