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Youth stand out in Kootenay Literary Competition

By Julia Gillmor

It’s not news the Kootenays is a hot bed for literary talent.

From Angie Abdou to Anne Degrace to Tom Wayman to Rita Moir, the list is long and impressive and growing. We’ve always been known as a hub for the arts but sometimes among the festivals and the revelling, the vibrant literary arts community gets overlooked. Then entered, the Kootenay Literary Competition.

Wrapping up its third year, the competition saw its highest number of participants to date and an unprecedented turn out in the youth categories.

As head of the English department at L.V. Rogers secondary school and a board member for the Kootenay Literary Competition, Kari Kroker was thrilled with numbers.

Schools teach creative writing and English literature, but Kroker feels it’s not enough.

“We have to move beyond just our school and [the Kootenay Literary Competition] is an excellent vehicle to do it. It’s giving kids what they need.”

Writing is generally a solitary act and as such Kroker sees the the importance of mentorship and benefit of a supportive community.

“It can be the community that leads and pushes you forward. That is a huge part of what KLC offers.”

And it’s not just youth from L.V. Rogers who participated in the competition, there was equally strong representation throughout the region.

In the fall, youth writing workshops were hosted around the region which helped to promote the contest and offer skills and feedback to participants.

“Kids love the big ideas, they love to give and they love to learn. It bothers me when we diminish their ability, we should expect more from them,” says Kroker.

She would like to see more mentorship for youth in the arts.

“I see a lot of writing that is extremely personal which is a great starting place. But there is so much value in listening to the voices of people that are older than you.”

Kroker’s focus is to get youth to look outward and forward, exploring the big ideas for themselves.

The Kootenay Literary Competition will be announcing another youth workshop in the spring to be lead by Fernie author Angie Abdou. Details about the workshop will be posted online at kootenaylitcomp.com.

The site will also have information about the Kootenay Literary Competition awards night on January 18 with special guests Sandra D and Lucas Myers and story excerpts to be read by the contest winners. The time and location have yet to be announced.

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