Writer-in-residence inspires next generation

Yvonne Blomer has been selected as the Kalamalka Press Writer-in-Residence at Caetani Cultural Centre

Writing and publishing diploma students at Okanagan College can get up close and personal with top Canadian writing talent, thanks to a Vernon writer-in-residence program.

Yvonne Blomer has been selected as the Kalamalka Press Writer-in-Residence at Caetani Cultural Centre program.

She is the author of travel memoir Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur and three books of poetry, and is currently working on a mystery in poems called The Death Of Persephone.

“Being here makes me think of Virginia Woolf and that idea of a Room of One’s Own or her diary entry from October 1927, ‘I will cut adrift – I will sit on pavements and drink coffee – I will dream; I will take my mind out of its iron cage and let it swim – this fine October,’” Blomer said.

“I feel exactly this, released from daily life into a world where I can write and read deeply; where I can connect with other artists and students, learn about another place, its history and people and share in an exploration as a writer and visitor. Not to mention ghosts and family history at Caetani House.”

The Writer-in-Residence program affords students the opportunity to connect with an active writer outside of the classroom experience, providing insight into the writing process and the value of community connection, said Kerry Gilbert and Jason Dewinetz, Kalamalka Press editorial board members and Okanagan College instructors.

Blomer will read alongside Natalie Appleton as part of Caetani Cultural Centre’s fall lineup this week. Based in Vernon, Appleton is the award-winning writer who authored the literary memoir, I Have Something to Tell You.

She has won Prairie Fire’s Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Contest and her short non-fiction story Fourth Son of Fourth Wife was longlisted for the 2016 CBC Creative Non-Fiction Contest.

READ MORE: Vernon author shares her store in literary memoir

Co-presented by the writing and publishing diploma program and Caetani Cultural Centre, An Evening With Award Winning Poets and Memoirists will be held Thursday, Oct. 24, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The centre is located at 3401 Pleasant Valley Road. Admission is free.

Blomer is also offering a poetry workshop on Saturday, Oct. 26, 10 a.m., at Caetani House. Tickets are $75 and available online.

Blomer was born in Zimbabwe and came to Canada when she was two years old. With her husband, she has taught in Japan, cycled through Southeast Asia and lived in the United Kingdom, where she completed a master’s in creative writing degree with distinction at the University of East Anglia.

An editor, teacher and mentor in poetry and memoir, Blomer has served as the City of Victoria’s poet laureate from 2015-18. In 2018, she was also the writer-in-residence at the Robert Bateman Centre where she created a show of ekphrastic poems in response to Bateman’s art, the result of which is the collection Ravine, Mouse A Bird’s Beak.

In addition to her poetry, Blomer is editing an anthology on watersheds with Caitlin Press to be published in 2020, her second in a trilogy of water-based books after Refugium: Poems for the Pacific.

READ MORE: Ballet in Big Apple for Armstrong


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