Jackson works with poetry, storytelling

Summerland writer organized literary event

Sophia Jackson is a writer, poet and a storyteller, who recently hosted a storytelling night at the Arts Centre.

“My first memory is that of talking to myself,” explained Jackson. “I use to lie in bed and tell myself wild stories.”

Raised in the “boonies,” outside of 100 Mile House, Jackson had what she described as a “fantastic childhood.”

After high school, Jackson attended the University of British Columbia, where she studied English and German. She also took a course in journalism and began her career as a journalist. She hopped from paper to paper for five years and in that time discovered that she didn’t like covering the hard news and found it to be “soul-destroying,” because much of it was so negative.

“I’m a good news girl,” Jackson said. “I always loved the colour stories, as I called them, much more than the hard hitting news.”

In 100 Mile House, when she had worked for the Tourism Office, she had written a column called Back Yard Explorer. She wrote about places to visit around the South Cariboo area.

At the Westerly News in Tofino, Jackson did a fun column called In Your Boots. She would spend a day working at someone else’s job and then write humorously about how useless she was at it.

For the seven years that she lived in Scotland, Jackson worked in the sales department for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the largest military music show in the world. She also wrote and edited a small magazine for them.

The job brought her many opportunities, including that of attending Princess Anne’s 60th birthday celebration.

“I wore a frock and a big hat with a bow,” explained Jackson. “It was very odd, a girl from the Cariboo at a Buckingham Palace garden party.”

In her spare time she also wrote a travel blog called Scotland for the Senses.

“I would travel around Scotland and take pictures and write my gooey language about whatever I had seen or done,” said Jackson. “I’m very sensual in my writing.”

After returning to Canada in 2012, Jackson was hired at the Chamber of Commerce in Summerland, where she loved working with the “Chamber Ladies.”

Because she was concerned about her health, she decided to search for a new, more active job that did not involve sitting at a desk.

She explained that because her hobbies are reading books and writing, she would sit all day at work and then go home and sit some more.

“Sitting is the new smoking,” she said.

Jackson got a job at the local bakery, were she is now the store manager.

She also writes what she calls the “romance” for the products, the label descriptions and product promotions.

A year and a half ago, Jackson’s aunt, who had been the first creative person she had ever known, passed away suddenly.

“Grief is traumatic and it will break open parts of your life,” Jackson said. “That’s when I started writing again. It was therapy for me.”

Since that traumatic event, Jackson has also found herself saying “yes to things instinctually.” She’s living life more fully now, realizing that we don’t ever know how much time we have left.

Recently she has become involved with performance poetry and the spoken word. It started for her at the Ryga Festival last year where she read at the Outspoken event.

In January Jackson took part in a poetry slam competition which involved poets throughout the Okanagan and she won.

“It’s so much fun but a totally different world,” Jackson said. “I’ve always been writing and I’ve always been bookish…but I’ve never done the performance side.”

Jackson said she just can’t seem to get enough stories right now and so that is why she wanted to do the storytelling night here in Summerland.

“The response has been wonderful and I’ve had a lot of people saying they loved it and asking me if I’m going to do another one,” she said. “The little storytellers are coming out of the woodwork now and I love that because I think everyone is a storyteller and I would love to do more of them.”