Train drivers John Howarth and Ibraim Ashow love a good line in books and live readings, as well as on the tracks. Photos and text: Bill Horne
Howarth has helped organize two “poetry trains” for VIA Rail. In 2003 a group of poets traveled from Winnipeg to Prince George with the train sold out. The 2004 poets traveled from Prince George to Prince Rupert. In both cases, they gave readings as they traveled west, and in small communities where they stopped along the way.
Howarth was involved with the 1999 CBC Fred Eaglesmith train as well.
“These were amazing trips,” he said, “and the passengers really enjoyed the experience. I think the BC government is underestimating the public’s appreciation of literature when it slashes arts funding.”
Ashow agrees. “John and I have the privilege of seeing a lot of BC and Canada through our work. It’s beautiful country, but it’s empty without stories, songs and poems that originate throughout the land.” Ibraim was a student at BCIT who now works as a conductor for the Hudson’s Bay Railway in Manitoba.
“I always read BC BookWorld,” says Howarth, “and I like to shop at stores like Books & Company in Prince George. Instead of cutting funding, though, the government ought to be increasing its support for our home-grown publishing industry, like it would the forest industry, transportation or any other sector of our economy.”
Engine #4019 was built in 1955 and has one 16 cylinder diesel engine with 1500 HP.
For further information, contact Bill Horne at Amazing Space Studio,
Wells, BC 250-994-2332 mazing at claireart dot ca