WRTN/SPKN is a story writing and story telling project that took place at the Triangle Program with a group of LGBTQ high school students in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12.
For several weeks, we explored creative writing (particularly memoir) through practices including free association, “cut-up,” word strings, found poetry, and collaborative writing. We experimented with voice and form, and the relationship between the written and spoken, and visually explored word. Throughout our creative process, students were encouraged to claim their place as storytellers and experts in their own experience. I provided guidance for the work being produced, but students’ areas of interest (themes and motifs) led the project.
Our work together culminated in the production and presentation of individual zines. Student-creators gave me permission to photograph their work, and develop a video that anthologizes their zines. Together, we viewed the video and talked about what they’d like to see happen with it.
There was consensus amongst the students that the video should be posted and distributed online, and available to everyone as an educational tool. Triangle students particularly want to reach out to other youth who have been or are being bullied at school— and those who can make a big difference: school boards and trustees, school administrators, educators, and guidance counselors.
Many students said that if it weren’t for the Triangle Program, they wouldn’t be in school. Triangle students recognize education as a right for all students, and that safety, or lack thereof, reduces access to education for LGBTQ students, and many other students for a broad variety of systemic reasons. Triangle students would like their stories and creative work to be a beacon for all youth who are struggling with safety and acceptance.
—Anna Camilleri, artist educator
What is a zine?
A zine is usually a non-commercial, non-professional publication, kind of like a magazine but with a twist. The main difference between a magazine and a zine is that zines are not out there to make a profit but, rather, to add other, often unheard voices into the mix. Zines are usually made out of interest and passion and are often self-published by the writer/artist/creator.
The Triangle Program is one of three micro-schools that are part of Toronto District School Board’s OASIS Alternative School. Triangle classroom provides a safe educational environment for LGBTQ-identified youth. As the only LGBTQ-focused TDSB school, the curricula and pedagogical framework include LGBQT history and contemporary concerns including shifting notions and locations of LGBTQ community.