Leaving Banff

Today is the last day of the Literary Journalism Program and my last afternoon in ‘The Hemingway’. It has been a wonderfully fruitful month. With the help of a careful editor and the the suggestions of my writing mates, I have managed to put together a polished first chapter of my ‘walls’ project. I also made a pile of contacts in Canada’s writing community, shared ideas for new stories, and drank enough wine and bourbon to float a king’s ship. The post-Banff detox starts Monday.

The environment here at the centre is like no other. Besides the other writers, the place is crawling with creative types. The writers hosted a party on Thursday night that was attended by opera singers, dancers, lighting designers, actors, visual artists, costume designers, and classical musicians. I will likely never attend an event with that sort of crowd again, and so I am feeling rather melancholy about leaving this place.

When I return to Calgary I will begin planning the next research trip for this book. I will fly to India in October and look at the walls along the Pakistan, Bangladesh and, possibly, the Burma border. Then I will travel to Pakistan, Iran and the Gulf States. I am also interested in visiting Kandahar in Afghanistan. The Canadian military is building a wall of stone and brick around the university so Afghan students, especially women, can feel secure attending classes. I am unsure, however, of the logistics about traveling in a war zone.

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