For the past month Alex Williamson has been seamlessly weaving the worlds of poetry, sword fighting and resilience into his residency at the Airdrie Public Library.
As the November Writer in Residence, Williamson has hosted a series of workshops offering local writers a rare opportunity to gain insights from his multifaceted expertise.
“I have been telling stories ever since I was a little kid,” says Williamson.
“If I wasn’t talking about them, I was thinking about them. I finally put pen to paper when I was 16-years-old. I just had so many thoughts and ideas. I wanted to try so many things and I didn’t want my physical body to hold me back in anything.”
With 17 years combined experience in modern sport fencing and historical European martial arts, Williamson boasts nine medals across Canada and the USA. A significant achievement, for someone living with cystic fibrosis, a genetic ailment that shapes his compassionate approach to storytelling.
Williamson’s debut poetry collection, “Very Bright, Almost Pretty,” released in 2020 by Frontenac House Ltd., quickly rose to best-seller status in Calgary. The collection delves into the intricacies of life with a genetic disease, emphasizing the power of unvarnished honesty in artistic expression.
“Sword fighting and writing are really not all that different,” says Williamson.
“A good poem or story is all about broad strokes and fine details – that is exactly how sword fighting works. So mentally, putting all the pieces together when you are competing is like putting together a story. One is just slightly more physical.”
Over the past month, Williamson has made it his mission to connect with local writers who may feel alone in the writing process. He hopes his workshops can be a source of encouragement to those in the industry.
“Writing is a long and slow process, but it is so worth it. People’s stories matter, and sharing their beliefs and thoughts and feelings is not something they have to do alone.”
In the next year, Williamson is working on releasing his second book of poetry and even a debut novel.
For more information about Williamson and future workshops visit airdriepubliclibrary.ca.