I spent the first semester back at my home school focused on the end goal: get back to Propel. Ever since my final presentation last year I was raring to go! I remember walking back to my car with a euphoric smile on my face. I wanted to replay the semester over and over again. But that couldn’t happen just yet. I’d have to get some mandatory credits if I was to graduate on time before I could return to work on poetry again. So, I went back to Béliveau, admittedly reading Maya Angelou in biology class from time to time. My first time at Propel, I had grown a lot both as a person and a writer. Due to all the challenges in the past semester, I had so much to reflect on. I was glad I had the summer vacation and a term to sift through everything I had learned. Before I knew it, I was cleaning out my locker.
Being a second-year student is refreshing because you avoid the stress associated with being in a new environment. Not to mention the program is completely different from that of traditional schools. Instead, you see the grade elevens where you were a year ago. Nervous and clumping into groups of three or four with kids who share a mutual home school. It’s a great feeling to have that little buzz of excitement and having an idea of where the semester may take you. Not that everything is the same. My first year, my class set the record for the smallest ever group of Propel students with a grand total of 13. This year my class is over double the size at 28. Having that number of students, the room is far more crowded and louder. Not that this is a negative. There is more potential for collaboration and the room is always abuzz with conversation and good vibes.
However, after one year of experience in the program, there’s a definite pressure to excel. As the first few weeks are coming to a close, the focus is shifting from adapting to the new environment and onto our projects. More specifically, what our projects will be.
Publishing has been a lifelong dream of mine. When I was little, I would cut loose leaf papers into quarters and staple them into notebooks. I’d spend hours crafting away plots about young girls living in a forest or caring for their pet horses. Since then, what I find intriguing in books has changed greatly. I also consider myself more of a poetess than a future novelist. If you followed my Propel journey, part of my project consisted of starting a YouTube channel. I’ve been doing spoken word performances now for the past three years and before after a show, a few audience members would come up to me and ask, “Where can I hear more of your poetry?”. I never had an answer until last semester when I started my YouTube channel. I built a platform full of spoken word videos I wrote, recorded, and edited myself. Now I’ve encountered another question, “Are you published?” The answer to this question is no. Not that I haven’t investigated it the possibility. I just haven’t encountered the chance yet. This semester I plan on revising old poems and composing new ones to complete an anthology of my work. Then publishing it independently.
As we advance into the next phases of Propel I look forward to turning this idea into a reality. Still, I remain open to any twists or adjustments my plan may undergo. I’m looking forward to sharing more updates on my experience this term. If there’s one factor you can expect from a semester at Propel, it’s growth.
Each week at Propel has a theme, this upcoming week’s name is “32%” because that is how much of the semester is left. That means time is running out which makes sticking to our timelines crucial. Timelines are essentially schedules that let us know if we are where we should be in our project. When enter the day and the bar jumps to show where we are, each block represents another one of our goals. Here is a picture of my timeline below.
A few things need to be rearranged. My performance at George McDowell is pending to be moved to a later date so we may see change there. I have completed my first writing workflow I also rewrote a poem and have started a new one. Today was spent filming and editing with Mr. Hansen’s help. I should have a finished video by the end of the day!
My agenda for the next week will be finishing the film I started today and hopefully wrapping up my second writing workflow. After those steps are completed I will continue filming and uploading videos to YouTube. I will also start preparing for upcoming performances and participating in local open mics. My next update will be at the end of my time here at Propel and show the completed version of my project. Though I dread my time here coming to an end I am very eager to show off the finished product of my work from these pasts few months.
My project has stayed very similar to how it was described in my previous blog post. I’ve sharpened up a few details such as how many videos I will make, how many new poems will be written, and of course booking performances.
Here at Propel we have “milestones” each milestone represents a small phase of completion in our projects. Some of my most important ones include; writing five new poems with varying tones, filming four poetry videos which I will upload to my YouTube channel to share with the public, creating a clean and fresh place to record, and of course any poetry gigs that may come my way.
The next thing on my agenda is preparing the space I will record in. An “infinity wall” is a wall that is painted in a way so that there are no shadows and it melts seamlessly into the floor. I can use as a background which will be convenient. Accomplishing this consists of painting over this tragic yellow and blue checkered wall to make it completely black. If any of my poetry sounds a little off it may be due to some paint fume induced writing.
Once the room is ready I will get right to work recording. The filming and editing process will be worked around to make time to rehearse and of course to put on real performances. Most of my upcoming presentations are deliveries of my poem “That’s so Gay”, one of the first slam pieces I ever wrote which is a commentary on how LGBTQIA* youth are affected by negative stigma regarding their identity. Other than that, I will be adding the final touches on my new poem “Softness” and hopefully starting a new poem as well.
I look forward to having updates that will show that I’m checking milestones off my list and of course having more to show than a list. Hopefully in upcoming blogs I’ll have videos to link below so you can see what my poetry actually looks/sounds like. Until next time.
I refer to the past month as March Madness. It started with being one of the speakers at the “It’s OK to Rant” event where all proceeds went to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers. I was so honoured to be speaking along side people like Al Simmons, Doug Spiers, and other important Winnipeggers. After that I had the next week performing in my school’s musical and then I was off to Europe! I spent 12 Days in France, Monaco, and Italy. I couldn’t have been more inspired being in such a historical and bold place. Visiting important art, strolling the cobblestone roads, and contemplating crossed legged next to the ocean made me want to do nothing but write. But now I’m back and ready to do just that.
I’ve been doing spoken word presentations for just under two years now and an ongoing problem I’ve encountered is once I’m done presenting if people want to hear more of my work I don’t have anywhere to direct them. So, even if I’m more of an open mic/pen and paper kind of poet I’ve decided to start a YouTube channel. This way audiences can keep up to date with my work and I can expand my client base. Throughout this process I will also be doing live performances I have a few coming up within LRSD and one for the Pembina Trails school division.
This project is going to be a big push for me for a couple reasons. The first being I’m terrible with technology. During POC (“Proof of Concept” a mini project or part of our real project we must complete in two weeks to prove we are capable of the big project.) when Mr. Hansen first handed me a camera and I tripod I was confident setting up the tripod and attaching the camera to it. Then I proceeded to spend the next five minutes trying to figure out why I couldn’t see out of the camera and realized I that the protective lens was still doing its job. Learning about the technological component has been a lot harder than I anticipated. Though I know by the time I’m done I’ll appreciate having the skills that I’m stumbling with now.
Listening to your own voice recorded is the bane of my existence has become a common part of the editing process. I’ve also learned it’s hard to judge the quality of your audio when you’re cringing. However, watching home videos with those awkward groggy interviews your parents make you do on holidays will become far more bearable.
Challenging my abilities as a poet and writing a few pieces that are different from my typical sound is one part of this project that is far more up my alley. I will be using brighter and softer tones with a more relaxed flow. This will stop me from falling into a pattern and my poetry becoming my own echo chamber. As someone who also loves working with feminist topics I am very excited to follow the trend of finding power in “softness” something traditionally regarded as feminine and watered down.
Now I cannot wait to get started on my project! Feeling that I have direction and knowing I can start hitting milestones is very motivating. I am very excited that soon these blogs won’t be the only type of my writing that I am sharing.
In grade 8 back-to-school outfits were a big deal. This became less trendy as we started high school and so did my fashion sense. By grade 10 I took a liking to suits and the occasional flower crown. But mostly the suits, I found them to be so powerful and androgynous. So, first day at Propel I thought why break tradition? Which is ironic considering the goals of the program. Anyways, I showed up first day in a thrifted navy find. Can you say Joanne from RENT vibes?
This quickly proved to be a bad idea as we were changing rooms. Moving, included many sets of walking up and down stairs carrying anything from stools to paint cans. I wished I had stuck to a t-shirt and mom jeans. But the tables turned when it came to moving well… the tables. One of the best parts of a blazer is undeniably the shoulder pads. Not only do you look like you’re capable of running a business, you can also rest a desk you’re carrying on your shoulder without it digging into you! Who knew? By this point you’re probably wondering what my slightly obscure choice of clothes has to do with PROPEL. Well I’m not a seamstress or designer. I’m a poet which means lots of my thoughts are consumed by reflecting on real life metaphors and foreshadowing. Here’s the glue, suits don’t stick everywhere you go. I’ve gotten laughed at at past schools and stares for my unorthodox style. Same thing with poetry, sometimes people only go to cafe open mics for the coffee. But that’s why I’m here because sometimes things need to work out in unexpected ways.
Just like trying new things. The “school” work is starting to taste a lot like the zucchini brownies my mom made when I was kid. Small bits with strange texture baked in with chocolate. You know that you’re doing work somehow but it is significantly less gross. Maybe even enjoyable. There’s also so much variety here. My fellow students always seem to have interesting perspectives and plans. When I was accepted I was asked many times why I wanted to attend a more alternative program. I had fair grades and was very involved at my home school. However, I believe that people don’t really change but rather that they become. That they grow from changes. So when you’re spending every day with a rigid schedule you might need change to keep growing and become.
So maybe my roots haven’t fully sunken in yet or I’ve only sampled the assignments. But I can already get a feel for how my ideas will plant or how my tastes will adapt. I’m not completely sure how the program will suit me. But here’s to good first impressions.