Strangers on a Train gives students and alumni the venue to share poetry

Metaphorical fireworks explode when writers, poets and artists get together to share their ideas, and Langara college's reading series Strangers on a Train aims to help create the spark.

The February 24 edition of the series also included two UBC alumni: Sheryda Warrener and Laura Matwichuk. Warrener is the author of Hard Feelings and has an MFA in creative writing and Matwichuk was an art history major who was the poetry finalist in the 2013 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers.

With writers coming from diverse communities and of different generations, Strangers on a Train provides a chance for strangers to gather and share their love of poetry.

The event is organized by Heather Jessup and Thor Polukoshko, instructors in Langara English department.

“Langara has had reading series for a while, but not really active. We talked about getting funding but we didn’t get it. But who cares if there is funding or not? We just wanna do it, so let’s go with it," said Polukoshko.

To correspond to the venue, The Railway Club, they named the event Strangers on a Train, which is also the name of Hitchcock’s movie in 1951. In contrast to the film, Strangers on a Train introduces poetry in a relaxing atmosphere.

The event doesn’t require a central theme but features a variety of writings and people from different literary circles. This time, two UBC alumni are invited to share their works for the first time in the reading series.

"I love that they choose to feature student readers rather than more experienced writers to read books.... The main point is for them to read not for us," said Warrener. With a stage for the young writers to shine, the event encourages them to continue reading.

“We make sure that we feature at least one Langara student in every single event. And the students probably have never met a lot of the writers,” said Polukoshko. Students might have the fortune to meet writers they admire or even study in class.

UBC also holds a similar event hosted by the creative writing program. The event, titled Outwrite, is for undergraduates and Locution for graduate students. But age is not a limitation, everyone is welcome.

“Try to find your voice by writing what’s closest to you possible. Be yourselves in your writing. And you have to read, read, read,” said Warrener.

“You just have to work at it. Make it part of your daily life. Read. Read a lot," said Matwichuk.