In April 2020, three of The Confluence’s most consistent and appreciated contributors were chosen to receive a bursary of $200 each. Those talented people are: Brielle Rivard (poetry); Gurpartap Singh (artwork); and Gabrielle Sandhu (poetry and creative writing). Congratulations to all of the winners, you are all marvellous in your individual ways!

The following is a cut version of a phone call interview with bursary winner Gabrielle Sandhu, a contributor for The Confluence since April of 2018.

Raegan: “When did you realize you had a passion for creative writing?”

Gabrielle: “I think I first realized I had a passion for creative writing when I was eleven years old. I remember there was a writing contest at my school, and that’s when I started learning about how to wright stories and stuff. I received a medal…my teacher really encouraged me and I did it and I ended up winning.” 

Raegan: “Oh my gosh.”

Gabrielle: “And throughout high school I did it recreationally. Post-secondary is the first time where I’ve made writing a priority. I think the older you get, the more platforms become open to you—like when I was eleven there wasn’t a school magazine to submit to. So yeah, at eleven I fell in love and I haven’t looked back.”

Raegan: “That’s awesome. When you look back at your older poetry and your older creative writing, how do you feel?”

Gabrielle: “I think creative people across all mediums, whether it be photography or artists, musicians or writers…I think we have this terrible habit of almost like self-destruction where we write something or compose something and it captures so perfectly who we are as human beings in that part of our life—that once we move past it, it’s almost like you’re showing so much of yourself, and you can’t bare that. The idea of you in a state of time that is tangible to other people scares us. It’s important to remember that you made that painting or took that photo for a reason at one point in your life, and you need to accept it, kind of like a bad tattoo.”

Raegan: “Of your time spent at CNC, what were some of your favourite moments?”

Gabrielle: “Ooh! Whenever they have free pizza at the school, that’s always cool. Hmm, when Graham Pearce does his readings out in the public, I think those are my favourite parts of the CNC experience because you’re able to take the things that you learn at this institution—which is incredible— and you can apply them to real life situations. The arts don’t really have too many forms of that, you know? It’s cool that everyone can get together and appreciate English! I think that happens a lot less the more that we progress into a science dominated society.”

Raegan: “Where do you see creative writing being a part of your future?”

Gabrielle: “So obviously, the dream is to become a writer. However, because I’m a planner, right now I’m doing my Bachelor’s in English with a minor in Biology, and I’m planning to pursue a career in teaching, but I want to teach in post-secondary because of how passionate I am in writing. I really want to speak to, like, adolescence or students that are in post-secondary levels that I could influence.”

Raegan: “What are you currently working on?”

Gabrielle: “Last year I focused a lot on concepts like love and lust, but this year I am trying to challenge myself to write about introspection involved in larger concepts like home, spirituality, belief, body, connection, disconnection, with yourself, from yourself, within the world, and from the world. For example, “The Interview,” the last story I submitted. That whole story is about connection and disconnection.”

Raegan: “What would you say to all of the aspiring poets that are going to CNC?”

Gabrielle: “Hmm what would I say to them… you’re doing great! Write whatever it is that’s in your brain and make sure it gets on paper because that’s when it becomes real. And submit, and publish because publishing is so important. I think it evokes a lot of emotion, and connectiveness that we don’t see every day. I think it brings us closer as human beings. Not only producing art, but acknowledging and relating to art, that’s a really powerful cycle to be a part of.”

Raegan: “Very true.”

Gabrielle: “And also, for all the poets out there, your feelings are valid! Haha, even though you don’t think there’s an audience out there for you, there is.”