When the guest speaker steps to the podium at the J.L. Crowe convocation on Friday, the graduating class and their families will surely be in for an eloquent address.
That’s because accomplished author Dina Del Bucchia will be engaging the students, and audience, about lessons learned since she graduated from Crowe 22 years ago.
While there’s sure to be some sage insight from the creative writer and teacher, there’s sure to be laughter in the mix as well. That’s because Dina looks at life through a humorous lens, and that’s how she writes about it, earnest but with a twist of whimsy.
So, “It’s a Big Deal!” that Dina is traveling to Trail from her home on unceded Coast Salish territory to share her story with the grad class of 2019.
(Incidentally, “It’s a Big Deal!” is her poetry collection, and fifth book, released just a few months ago.)
The Crowe alum wasn’t expecting the honour of guest speaking to 143 Kootenay Columbia students and their families, but she says the request came as a delightful surprise.
“I’m excited and, of course nervous, to present to the most discerning group: teens,” Dina told the Trail Times.
She didn’t want to give away too much pre-ceremony, but Dina did give the Times a hint of what her message will be for the up-and-comers, many whom will be going on to further their education.
“I’m definitely going to tell them all to become poets if they want to rake in bags of cash,” she quipped.
“I do love to joke around, but I think talking to young people should be taken seriously. I wish it wasn’t just me talking, but more of a conversation. I learn so much from the young writers I teach or mentor. They’re so smart and interesting and I really value their outlook,” she said.
“Listening and really absorbing what others are saying is a crucial skill. It’s what makes us better people, the ability to empathize and understand.”
After graduation, the Fruitvale native embarked on her post-secondary education at the University of British Columbia, earning a BA (Bachelor of Arts) with a double major in English and Creative Writing and a MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing.
Dina’s career is writing, but it’s only one aspect of her daily work life in Vancouver. So her experience is particularly fitting for today’s high school students who, more than ever before, will have to carve their own space in a workforce that is rapidly evolving from traditional norms.
“I work a day job, teach a university class, and am a senior editor of a poetry magazine,” Dina explained. “I also host and edit a podcast, am the artistic director of a reading series, and often read from my work, or perform at events, and I attend a tonne of other literary events too.”
Even though her work is in the arts, Dina ends up doing a lot of administrative tasks, like most jobs now.
“I have many spreadsheets for many different projects and organizations and have written many grant applications,” she said. “Spreadsheets are my annoying companions. And sometimes I get asked to do interviews, like this one, which can be both fun and nerve-racking.”
Dina says she doesn’t know what it’s like to have one job and focus on just that.
“(To) go to work and come home and have no other work waiting for me when I get there,” she shared.
“And all those things don’t even put into account the actual writing, which often is not on an imposed deadline, but totally self-motivated. And sometimes I’m not motivated at all and I want to socialize or watch an entire season of television with a bag of chips.”
Aside from her poetry book released earlier this year, Dina has published three other collections of poetry, titled “Coping with Emotions and Otters,” “Blind Items,” and “Rom Com,” the latter was written with her friend Daniel Zomparelli.
She also wrote and published a book of short stories in 2017, called “Don’t Tell Me What to Do.”
Dina will be speaking at the convocation in the Trail Memorial Centre arena on Friday, June 21. The event starts at 6 p.m. and is expected to run approximately two hours.
Another featured speaker will be class valedictorian Christopher Mountain.
Safe Grad night will be in the Cominco gym right after the ceremony. The grads’ picture and promenade walk was June 8.