Guelph Speaks! in Student-Produced Anthology
Graduate students' project gives Guelph residents voice to share stories, experiences
A group of seven U of G graduate students will launch a community anthology that explores the diverse voices found in the Guelph community Jan. 18 at the Guelph Youth Music Centre. Admission to the 7:30 p.m. event and copies of the anthology are free, but donations will be accepted. Proceeds will support Guelph's Action Read Community Literacy Centre.
Guelph Speaks! Re-storying the City is a compilation of music, art and literature presented in a 100-page book, with a colour insert of art and photography and a CD that includes 14 tracks. It was created as part of a course called “Pedagogy, Human Rights, Critical Activism: Educating for Social Change,” taught by Prof. Ajay Heble, English and Theatre Studies.
Inspired by course readings and discussions, the project is based on the idea that the stories and perspectives of everyone who lives in Guelph are valuable and important. The anthology serves as a platform for those voices to be shared.
Submissions for the project, which centre around the themes of placement, displacement and identity in Guelph, came from people of various ages and with a range of writing experience, says Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, one of the students who produced the anthology. Despite having a story deadline of only 4½ weeks, the group received 150 multimedia submissions for consideration, she says.
“The community really embraced our project, and we received such positive feedback and response. We were truly amazed by the quality and the diversity represented.”
Among the submissions selected for publication are a theatre piece written by students in the English-as-an-additional-language program at John F. Ross High School, an oral history piece by an elderly woman who has lived her entire life on Fountain Street, and a photograph of a 107-year-old woman shot by local photographer Trina Koster.
By providing a setting where many types of narratives are placed side by side, the anthology allows participants to share their own stories while hearing other experiences of living in Guelph — “all with the broader aim of raising awareness of diversity in our city,” says Cunsolo Willox.
“The act of storytelling — and its necessary companion, listening — has the potential to move us toward a more inclusive community.”