THE SPARK THAT STARTED IT ALL
School of Arts and Social Sciences
Grenfell Campus' English and creative writing professors shaped Douglas Walbourne-Gough's future. The poet, editor and arts administrator graduated from Grenfell with an English degree in 2008 and is now pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. His list of projects, published work and awards is considerable and it all started at Grenfell.
Walbourne-Gough came to Grenfell as a mature student. "I needed out of construction labour and retail work and Grenfell was right there waiting for me. I applied as a mature student and got in, then soon realized that I had more than a hat-rack on my shoulders and Grenfell was a special place to prove that," he said.
Grenfell's small class sizes and approachable professors gave him an in-depth knowledge that grew out of both open dialogue and lectures. "The professors really challenged my preconceptions and created safe spaces to learn naturally and openly. I left Grenfell not just able to offer stock answers and generalized skills, but with the confidence in my own ability and intellect as an individual," he said.
During his time at Grenfell, Walbourne-Gough got his first introduction to poetry from now-retired professor and award winning Canadian poet John Steffler. He calls the experience "the spark that started it all." Since graduating, Walbourne-Gough has been busy writing, studying and working as an arts administrator.
For seven years he produced The April Rabbit, an annual performance arts event that took place in Corner Brook. He worked alongside Grenfell associate English professor and author Stephanie McKenzie, who became a friend as well as a mentor. "That event, with all its amazing performers and volunteers as well as the inimitable tutelage I received from Stephanie changed the course of my life," he said.
Walbourne-Gough has worked diligently at his writing practice and it has paid off. Among his successes are multiple Arts and Letters Awards (Newfoundland & Labrador,) two ArtsNL Professional Project grants, an ArtsNL Community Arts grant, and winning the SPARKS Haiku contest. He edited an anthology of poetry with Stephanie McKenzie –
Humber Mouths 2: Voices from the West Coast of Newfoundland. His poems have been published in journals across Canada and recently he's enjoyed writing and publishing book reviews. He's been invited to read at the international literary festival The March Hare, and the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador Spring Tides reading series. He's also produced readings and book launches for local, Canadian and international poets.
When asked what advice he has for future Grenfell students he said, "Take advantage of it while it's still the intimate-sized, low-tuition, creative space it was for me. And be sure to check out the fine arts and literary events, even if you're not studying the arts."
#grenfellstories is a series featuring Grenfell Campus alumni. For more information or to submit your story go to www.grenfell.mun.ca/grenfell-stories