It’s a word Sally Stubbs has lived with most of her life. And it’s something she plans on continuing during her two-month term as Richmond’s recently installed writer in residence.
“I grew up in a family, as most writers do, that had a lot of books around the house,” Stubbs said. “And my father disappeared in a plane crash when I was young, so my grandparents helped out my mom. And my grandfather, he was my mentor and was probably my closest friend when I was a kid. It was a bit odd, but I guess I really needed a dad.”
Stubbs, a celebrated playwright and arts educator, said her grandfather, a journalist who spent time with the Winnipeg Tribune, was a wonderful, brilliant and crazy man who she wrote stories with growing up.
“He was originally from Ireland and came over in a cattle ship during the potato famine, and he played the piano. He sang. He was this astonishing guy,” she said. “And we’d write together. We’d tell stories, so that was something I knew I wanted to do.”
All that creative collaboration stood Stubbs in good stead as she went to the University of Victoria and, initially, enrolled in the creative writing department, then shifted to art history, and then shifted again to a newly formed program called creative drama. That’s where she discovered her passion for working in theatre and with young people.
Part of that will work its way into Stubbs’ time in Richmond where she hopes to develop a small community of writers. That mission was kicked off last Friday when she was formally introduced during the city’s Culture Days events that included one-on-one manuscript consultations.
While being a writer in residence — she is Richmond’s fourth — means something a little different to each person who has held the temporary title, Stubbs said, for her, it reaches down to her roots as an educator, a vocation that earned her a Prime Minister’s Award for theatre education.
“For me, it’s an opportunity to work with playwrights in a way that will, I hope, inspire and excite a diverse group of people, and help them with writing in all different genres,” she said. Through October and November 2015, the Richmond Arts Centre, Minoru Place Activity Centre and Richmond Public Library will host a series of free public Writer-in-Residence events, each a unique opportunity for Stubbs to engage with the community-at-large.
Details about the writer-in-residence program are available at yourlibrary.ca/programs/flyers/writerinresidence2015.pdf.