Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Diaspora Dialogue's Young Writers from the Edge: Midway Development

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Dante Mottillo

In Diaspora Dialogue's Young Writers from the Edge program, high school students work with professional writers to develop their writing skills. Dante Mottillo, age 16, found each workshop "like an injection of an inspiration-stimulant." Check out his blog entry to find out about his experience with the program and to read an excerpt from his arresting poem, "Black Sky of Hope."

By Dante Mottillo

I never realized how essential writing has been throughout my life, until recently, when I stumbled upon some old stories that I wrote when I was about six or seven. Regardless of how juvenilely comedic The Lion and The Toy Mouse was, I’m proud (blushingly so) to say that that story was my beginning. However, I only started my more serious work during the beginning of grade nine. I feel terrible to say this, but I didn’t start writing at the time because I needed to — which Rilke constantly stresses any artist must do — but because I was merely attempting to be a part of my school’s writing club. Yet, I’m extremely grateful that I did force out that strung-together poetry, for it started me on a winding road that dove deeper into my potential as a writer. Now, I write whenever and wherever I please.

Currently in grade ten at Father John Redmond CSS, this is the second year that I have had the pleasure of working with Diaspora Dialogues mentors in creative writing workshops. After attending my first one in grade nine, with the prestigious Kerri Sakamoto, I have made it an issue to attend every workshop at my school. I’ve had a tendency to only write poetry, but after hearing some of the works by our mentors, I’ve been writing so much more. I know it sounds awkward, but it feels as if each workshop is like an injection of an inspiration-stimulant. Since our last workshop in February, I’ve already written some chapters for multiple novel ideas, a few rants, about three and a half short stories, and numerous poems.

For the Diaspora Dialogues presentation this year, though, I chose a piece that I wrote the night after a workshop with Anne-Marie Woods. It was raining pretty hard, so with the workshop in mind came my poem Black Sky of Hope. (Below is a short excerpt.) I really just wanted to show how beautiful something so intense could be. And in truth, when regarding the Diaspora Dialogues program, how intense something already extraordinary really is.

...Strike me down
Burn me to a crisp.
Why should it matter anyways?
We all need to be shocked back into reality,
And the storm-maker takes it upon himself to do so.
So I stand,
In the middle of the still blowing soft green grass,
Dripping with rain, sorrow, and uncertainty.
So strike me,
STRIKE ME DOWN!
BURN ME!
And wake me up.

- Written by Dante Mottillo


"Midway Development" first appeared in the Diaspora Dialogues blog.

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