In 2016 Prairie Wind & Silver Sage proudly hosted its artist residency program in partnership with Grasslands National Park, funded by the Saskatchewan Arts Board and SaskCulture/Saskatchewan Lotteries. Out of a wide range of excellent applications, the residency selection committee proudly announced four artist residencies which took place between between July and September.
Roger Mitchell, award-winning poet and teacher, was writer in residence July 14 to 24. During his residency Roger Mitchell led the Grasslands Weekend Writing Experience workshop and offered daily drop-in office hours in Grasslands National Park and at Prairie Wind & Silver Sage. Roger Mitchell is the author of eleven books of poetry and a work of nonfiction, Clear Pond, which won the John Ben Snow Foundation Prize, as well as the holder of many other honours and awards.
Bren Simmers was poet in residence August 7 to 17. Her Poetry Machine brought the gift of poetry to all ages, and the Words and Music Open Mic she hosted at the Val Marie Hotel was described by those in attendance as a wonderful, magical evening. Bren Simmers is the winner of the Arc Poem of the Year Award, finalist for the Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award and The Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, and longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize. Her first book of poems, Night Gears, was published by Wolsak and Wynn in 2010. Hastings-Sunrise, a book-length poem about her old East Vancouver neighbourhood, was published by Nightwood Editions in 2015.
Melissa Goodchild & Kevin Grady in the Val Marie village square, with rainstick
Together Melissa Goodchild, clarinet, and Kevin Grady, percussion, are Duo Carmine Jewel, named after a a dwarf sour cherry developed by the University of Saskatchewan; individually they both also perform with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. During their residency Goodchild and Grady gave concerts in Val Marie and in Grasslands National Park, free participatory outdoor improvisation sessions, and interactive group recorder lessons and percussion instrument creation activities. All performances and workshops focused on the natural beauty of the region, inviting curiosity about instruments and sound and how they bring an experience to life.
Valerie Zink in Grasslands National Park
As photographer in residence, Valerie Zink gave workshops to school students as well as to grown-ups of all levels of photography experience from across southern Saskatchewan. Focusing on sense of place, she and her workshop participants explored the streets, surfaces, and histories of Val Marie, gateway to Grasslands National Park while being empowered to take control of their cameras’ capabilities. Valerie Zink has studied at Dalhousie University and the International Centre of Photography in New York. Fault Lines: Life and Landscape in Saskatchewan’s Oil Economy, her collaborative book of photography and text with Emily Eaton (University of Manitoba Press), has recently been released.