April 20, 2011

Readin’ and Rockin’ the High School Circuit

English and writing students at Earl Marriott Secondary

Over the past week or so, I’ve had the pleasure of getting “back to my roots”, at high schools up and down the coast as part of the BC Book Prizes Tour and Powell River Writers Conference.

Stepping back into high schools for the first time in years is like stepping back into time… all those cliques that existed when I went to high school 25 years ago in West Vancouver still exist today… the geeks over in one corner, the jocks in another, the pretty girls, the disabled kid, the punk/alternative kids, the requisite pair of goth kids. It’s the Breakfast Club x 300 at every school. John Hughes so nailed it. (The only sect that actually seems extinct is the banger).

What I have had the pleasure of doing is speaking to these groups of kids in each school and telling them the story of how my book Adventures in Solitude came to be, as well as all my years in The Smugglers, my friendship with Nardwuar, what CBC Radio 3 is all about, the Canadian music scene, and my past colliding with bands like Nirvana, the White Stripes, and the Hives. It’s great watching the students react positively, but hey, I love to sell the sizzle, right? I was dropping so many names I’m surprised they didn’t call the janitor in to sweep up.

At each school I’ve read the “out of control house party” story from the book (Chapter 13, Take Me To The Riot) and each time the kids seem to actually like it, laughing at various parts, especially when I make out with a Smugglers fan during the melee, and when my Dad sees our house on the front cover of the paper miles away from home.

Over the past few days I’ve visited Brooks Secondary in Powell River, Seycove Secondary in Deep Cove, Carson Graham Secondary in North Vancouver, and Earl Marriott Secondary in Surrey. In Powell River, when I asked if there were any questions, the goth kid said “Yeah, DON’T LEAVE” (he didn’t want to go back to reading Animal Farm). In Surrey, a kid who was obviously a little smart ass, followed me out into the parking lot, and asked me two questions: “Can I be your best friend?” and “Can I have a party at your house?”

He reminded me of a lot of another little smart ass from my high school 25 years ago: me.

Want a grown-up smart ass to come and talk at your school? Get in touch.

(2) Comments

  1. TB3 says:

    Wait. What happened to the “Preppie”?

  2. pat mcphillips says:

    Ah, name dropping, it’s a slippery slope. Before you know it you are talking about someone else’s travel plans.

    That talking to high school kids is a super interesting concept, I have never known any other author to do it. One thing I learned working in a school, you just never know what will light a fire under a kid, or what will resonate with them. It’s a great idea.

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