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Writers at school


Host an Artist or Writer.

Carolyn Marie Souaid



Carolyn Marie Souaid

Carolyn Marie Souaid is an editor, book reviewer, and the author of 6 poetry books, including Swimming into the Light, shortlisted for the A.M. Klein Prize for poetry and winner of the David McKeen Award in 1996. Her work has been produced for CBC-Radio and has been published nationally and internationally. She has participated in literary festivals across Canada and in Europe, and co-produced two major Montréal events: the Poetry-on-the-Buses Project (2004) and Cirque des mots/Circus of Words, a multilingual cabaret of performance poetry (2005). For two years, she took part in Random Acts of Poetry, a highly-publicized national event sending Canadian poets out into their communities to read poems to complete strangers. Souaid holds a Master's degree in Creative Writing from Concordia University.

Suggested reading*

Snow Formations (Signature Editions, 2002)
Satie's Sad Piano (Signature Editions, 2005)
Paper Oranges (Signature Editions, 2008)
Blood is Blood (Signature Editions, 2010)
Swimming into the Light (Nuage Editions, 1995)
October (Nuage Editions, 1999)

*These titles have been suggested by the author based on the activities that he/she proposes to students.
It is, however, up to teachers to verify whether the titles are appropriate for their groups (age and education level, specific context, etc.).
Teaching staff are invited to contact the author for clarification on this aspect and assistance in preparing their groups for his/her visit.

Proposed approach and type of activities

Since the author's primary objective is to maximize the writing experience in the short time she has with the group, she likes to offer students ample opportunity to write through a variety of exercises and triggers.

Each of her workshops is tailored to accommodate the needs of the particular school that has arranged the visit. All visits include a short reading from her work and a brief account of her experiences as a writer. She always begins by talking about how she herself hated poetry as a student. This usually elicits a few nods and smiles – especially from some of the more reluctant members of the class (boys, quite often). Then, she introduces the first activity – usually a short, timed exercise aimed at jolting students out of their usual patterns of expression. Afterwards, there is a short period of sharing, and those willing to read their work aloud are encouraged to do so. The remainder of the workshop includes other activities aimed at eliciting fresh and original writing. Some exercises ask students to tap into their own stories.

Ms. Souaid's credo is 1) Write what you know; and 2) Burn it into the reader's memory. The emphasis is always on concrete detail and the music of words. Longer sessions allow for one-to-one conferencing, where she models ways to help students see their work through multiple drafts. Workshops that extend over several days or weeks could end in a class anthology and book launch.

Examples of activities

Random poetry

Pick a text-rich page at random from a magazine. Rip it into 4 equal parts. Lay the squares down in the right order. Now shift the squares around, so that sentences from the "wrong" sections bleed into each other "whimsically". (A variation is to mix text from different publications: e.g. two "Newsweek" squares and two "Better Homes and Gardens" squares). Read the non-sensical sentences aloud. Write some of the "better", weirder ones down. Once this is done, "massage" the work a little. Give it a title.

Spoken word / Performance piece (a group / collaborative poem)

Seat students around a table in groups of 8 to 10 (Depending on class size, there will be 3 or 4 groups, each group working together to produce a spoken word poem). By the end of three or four timed, directed writing exercises, the group will have the raw materials (writing) necessary to present a one-time, unique piece based on a simple object such as a lemon. The group poem can later be "massaged" into a theatrical performance for the stage.


Make a list of 12 favourite words - half verbs, half nouns. Begin writing from the list of words, trying to use as many as possible. Also include:

  • A colour.
  • Something unusual you saw this week.
  • Something "quoted".
  • A noun used as a verb.

Write freely. When editing, look for words like "just", "always", "only" "so" and "never" and cross them out; they often add nothing (except unnecessary melodrama) and drag on the beat. Read the text out loud; eliminate any clunky sounding phrases. Arrange the lines on the page. Give it a title.

Special conditions

For information

Carolyn Marie Souaid
Phone : 514 762-9402
Other phone : 514 561-7659
Email :

Subject to taxes (GST, PST)



Primary 5, Primary 6, Secondary 1, Secondary 2, Secondary 3, Secondary 4, Secondary 5

Available in

In every regions

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