By Erin Nantrais
On Saturday January 11, 2020, over 40 facilitators, staff and supporters braved heavy rains to attend the Toronto Writers Collective’s first ever Facilitator Appreciation Day at the Ralph Thornton Centre in Leslieville/South Riverdale.
The event was a celebration of the hard work and dedication put forth by TWC volunteer facilitators. Susan Turk, Toronto Writers Collective founder, explains “It is important to show our facilitators how grateful we are for their contributions”.
The event featured guest speakers: Toronto Poet Laureate, Al Moritz and spoken word poet, Andrea Thompson. Everyone who attended had the opportunity to write together. “The facilitators told me the gathering was both rewarding and inspiring, underscoring the power of what we do,” said Turk.
This was the first time for TWC facilitators to sit down as a group and reflect on the important work they do for various communities. “Gathering and writing together is important, as it creates and strengthens our shared fabric of giving voice by encouraging our own”, said Turk. “These opportunities enrich workshop experiences as best practices and prompts are shared”.
It was a full day of writing and sharing with breaks for the participants to enjoy a cornucopia of delicious middle eastern cuisine.
The discussions and writing reflected the overall mission of the Toronto Writers Collective of inspiring voice and empowering the unheard. “It really was a good group to be amongst,” Moritz revealed; “you rarely find a group that is so friendly and welcoming… This group showed a great deal of intelligence and emotional intelligence.
Everything written was very connected to basic issues of life: social, personal, and community. Everyone was conscious of life realities for individuals”. As Moritz discussed in his talk, “You of the Toronto Writers Collective listen to the poetry of each who comes to you. Your chief gift is listening… When you encourage writing, you are offering your gift to people who, in one way or another, are locked up in loneliness – as we all are”.
The Toronto Writers Collective will continue celebrating the facilitators and writers who make it all possible in workshops across the city, in Mississauga, and Ottawa.