When one of Kennedy Huckerby’s closest friends showed up to class earlier this year with cut marks crisscrossed up her arms, she was stunned by the response of her classmates.
"People would laugh at her," said Huckerby, a Grade 9 student at West Kildonan Collegiate.
"I just had to say something."
And so Huckerby did, in her own way as she’s done since middle school, putting pen to paper to scribble out her thoughts.
The result was a poem called Dents, one of 17 pieces featured in a new literary magazine West Kildonan students debuted to a packed room of 50 people at McNally Robinson Booksellers on Wed., April 24.
"I don’t believe in bullying," said Huckerby, noting the friend she wrote about has had a hard time in her life making friends because of her weight.
"I wanted to spill my thoughts."
The magazine, themed Beginnings, features a range of creative writing, poetry and non-fiction from 15 students across each grade. Students wrote about everything from bullying to drug addiction to death to self-identity.
"We didn’t want a straightforward theme," said Grade 11 student Shelby Broatch, who sat on the book’s selection, editing and promotion committees.
"We wanted a constant stream of motion from the beginning to end, so we’re starting out with a story about giving life, about the planet, and giving back. And then we’re ending with a story from one of our special needs students about her grandmother and the role in her life.
"It doesn’t leave you hanging," added Broatch, who wants to be an English teacher one day.
At last week’s reading, Grade 10 student John Galayda read a portion of his story, Devil Seekers: The Cocytus Ring, inspired by Dante’s Inferno. The story follows Dante as he tries to steal the ninth ring of hell back from Asmodeus, a demon king who oversees the gambling houses in hell.
"It’s a tale of epic proportions, I can tell you," he said.
Galayda, who wants to write and publish a fantasy novel one day, said the reading was encouraging.
"Some people don’t even get this far," he said.
Grade 11 student Destiny Oliveira said being given the chance to be published for the first time was an eye-opening lesson of how written words get published, noting her two stories featured in the book went through three separate edits.
"Writing takes a lot of compromise," she said.
The slim, 47-page paperback was published by Friesens and is available at McNally Robinson for $15.