The Canadian Writers in Person course and series presented acclaimed author Richard B. Wright last week. The following account of the event was written by English Prof. John Unrau, Atkinson School of Liberal and Professional Studies, who is the chief organizer of the 2002-2003 series.
When award-winning author Richard B. Wright gave a reading at the fifth in this year’s Canadian Writers in Person series at York, a class of 75 students was joined by more than 100 members of the public. Wright read excerpts from Clara Callan, the novel that recently won all three of Canada”s top prizes for fiction (the Giller, the Trillium, and the Governor-General”s Award), and responded to questions from the audience.
The discussion ranged from questions about Wright”s writing habits (for years he wrote between 5 and 7:30am before putting in a full day”s work as a teacher at Ridley College in St Catharines, Ontario); why he decided to scrap his initial third-person narrative and adopt a technique of letter-exchanges and diary entries as a story-telling method; how his experience as a teacher affected his writing. It was evident from Wright”s interaction with his audience that he must have been a delightful teacher: witty, articulate, a good listener, fully engaged and enthusiastic.
After the reading, he stayed on for another hour signing books and talking to individual members of the audience. All in all, a great experience for students enrolled in this introductory English course offered by Atkinson”s School of Arts and Letters.