Letters from Sarah Selecky

Fiona Ray Clarke

Fiona Raye Clarke is a Trinidadian-Canadian writer and community engaged artist. Her writing has appeared in Broken Pencil Magazine, The Puritan Town Crier, and alt.theatre, her plays produced by the InspiraTO Festival and rock.paper.sistahz festival, and her co-created short film won the 2017 CineFAM Short Film Challenge and screened in Toronto and San Francisco. She is currently embarking on her biggest project yet, a co-created animated kids series supported by CBC/Radio-Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts Creation Accelerator. She is working on a novel in stories. Find her at fionarayeclarke.com.

Ihave always wanted to be a writer, and have always written. But I was definitely not a top student in English class. Part of me still gripes at that. Being the product of West Indian parents, it was ingrained in me that I needed a profession. (I’m actually a very-prematurely-retired lawyer.) Through it all I’ve kept writing and when I found a writing community, others who let their muse free and were willing to follow their pen wherever it took them, something began happening. People started listening. My skills as a writer and my stories improved and my voice started to be recognized and heard. All from me listening to my pen and trusting what I had to say.

I’m a firm believer that a story doesn’t arrive in the world on its own – as some would have you think, perpetuating the myth of a writer’s staggering individual genius. This is how writing has continued to be gatekept: by making the average person feel like it’s just not within their reach to pen a beautiful poem or write a well-told story.

But writing belongs to everyone, whether you pursue it professionally, like myself, or are working on crafting a fierce and honest account of your life for your children. Writing is a practice that can be nurtured by anyone, just by freewriting. Paradoxically, the more we tap into community, the stronger our own voices become.

Spaces like the Story Intensive that work to uplift the voice and self-esteem of the writer, so that we, myself included, can be vulnerable and bring our best and most authentic self to the page, are a large part of the reason I continue to write. I’m excited to grow and discover in this work, together.