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Writers at school


Montréal

Host an Artist or Writer.

Norman Nawrocki

Creative non-fiction, Poetry, Theatre

Presentation

Norman Nawrocki
Photo: Michel Plante

Norman Nawrocki is a veteran multi-disciplinary writer/actor/musician/educator with an international reputation. He has several books of poetry and short fiction (in English, French & Italian), and is included in numerous anthologies. His texts appear in 50 albums of spoken word and music, in theatre musicals, in his many one-man cabarets, and in film soundtracks. He has written plays for CBC Radio and, since 1985, has performed his spoken word work live on the stage, radio and TV across Canada, the United States, Europe and in China. He also gives creativity workshops for community groups, lectures at universities and colleges coast-to-coast, and teaches part-time at Concordia University about how to use the arts to address current social issues. His speciality is educational comedy and questions of social justice. He enjoys touring Québec teaching students how to use pens, pencils, imaginations and their own natural talents for writing, acting, making music and performing.

Suggested reading*

The Anarchist & The Devil Do Cabaret

*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

Students will learn how to write simple pieces of short fiction without being intimidated by the creative process. A step-by-step approach will be used to encourage them to make use of their powers of observation and their ability to record what they see and hear, then transform these details into fictionalized characterizations and story lines. At all times, the group will use in-class examples for the exercises.

The author will begin by citing examples of character descriptions and settings from his own writing. He will then ask the students: 'Who did you notice on your way to school today? Anyone you can remember? Describe them: what did they look like, how were they standing, walking, running? What were they wearing? Think of the crossing guard, the bus driver, a neighbour, other students, passengers on the bus, etc. Did you overhear anything they said? Who were they speaking to, and in what tone of voice: angry, sad, joyful?' And if the students can't recall anyone outside the school, then the focus will shift to their homes before they left for school. 'What did anyone in your family say to you before you left the house? Who spoke? What were their words? What were they wearing, how were they standing or sitting? This could be a sibling or any other relative.'

The author might also invite the students to try to recall the details of a recent dream: characters, place, time, actions. Finally, he might ask the students to think of one person in the world they admire the most, and to write down as many physical traits as they can remember about them - without naming this person. Any of these individuals will then become subject material for a short, in-class, writing exercise. By starting with real, concrete characters, the group will then look at how they can transform them into fictional people, in easily imagined settings, with something to say or do.

Examples of activities

  • Students will be asked to look around in the class and focus on a classmate, or the teacher, and write down simple observations about their physical appearance: age, height, hair colour, facial features, colour of clothes, etc.
  • Students will be asked to use their imagination to transform this real person, on paper, into a fictionalized 'other' character, give them a new name, think of a setting for them: a fairy tale, another city, school, planet, or time period. How would their appearance, their concerns change?
  • Students will be called upon to write out detailed descriptions of this new person in this new setting. Would they speak, walk, behave differently? What makes them unique? Can they be given new characteristics, a brand new imaginary profile, in the fictionalized 'other setting?
  • They can be made older, younger, taller, stronger, faster, more experienced, more travelled. Participants might imagine them as a famous writer, a world class acrobat, a doctor, scientist, an accomplished pianist, painter, computer whiz, explorer, environmentalist, etc.
  • They can be situated in a house, an office, on a mountain, in a park, on a bus, a bicycle, a skateboard, another country, or at the kitchen table and the setting can then be described. Participants will assign them a task: ordinary or super-human. Maybe students will give them superpowers, or just sharpen their abilities to excel at their work. Maybe these characters can converse with animals or read other people's thoughts. Maybe they can predict the future, see into the past.
  • They can be given a problem to solve: what will they do to save the planet from an ecological crisis? How will they help clean the air, purify the water, feed the hungry, house the homeless, cure the sick?
  • The author will ask the students to imagine what could possibly make this character the happiest, luckiest person around, how could they make this a better world, and see if they can arrange it all, in their imaginations, on paper.
  • At all times, the students will have a few moments to consider the possibilities, and then write them. There will be leading questions and many suggestions about potential directions. This process will continue until participants end up with perhaps a page of original writing. Then some of the results will be read out loud.


Other examples of activities

  • The author can also help students take turns assembling and directing a small cast of other students to enact their written pieces in front of the class. They will be assigned roles, then dramatize the short stones on the spot as students read them out.

Special conditions


For information

Norman Nawrocki
Phone : 514 844-6562
Fax : 514 844-6562
Email : nawrocki@ca.inter.net

Subject to taxes (GST, PST)

Yes

Levels

All levels

Available in

In every regions

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