Here's my account of Quebec League members' activities, probably my last for good or at least for a good long while, since I'm stepping down (again) as Quebec Rep on the League of Canadian Poets' National Council.
NEWS FROM QUEBEC
According to the latest stats, about 8% of Quebecers—a total of around 605,000 -- are Anglophones, and most of these – about 480,000 -- live in Greater Montreal. That makes a town little bigger than, say, Kitchener-Waterloo. Considering these figures, one can hardly deny that Quebec is a sizzling hotbed of English Language poetic talent and activity. This year as always a significant volume of production took place, contributing to the province’s particularly lively literary scene.
Oana Avisilichioaei launched feria: a poem park (Wolsak and Wynn) in September.
Carolyn Marie Souaid launched her fifth collection, Paper Oranges (Signature Editions) in October.
Brian Campbell (yours truly) launched his second collection, Passenger Flight (Signature Editions) in April.
20 Canadian Poets Take on the World, edited by Priscilla Uppal, was launched in Toronto and in April, in Montreal. The book features translations of 20 foreign poets; among the translators was Quebec’s Erin Mouré.
Erin Mouré along with Robert Mazjels was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize for their translation of Nicole Brossard’s Notebook of Roses and Civilization; the same book was also shortlisted for the 2007 Governer General’s Award for Translation.
Winner of the 2008 Quebec Writer’s Federation A.M. Klein Award (Poetry) was Peter Richardson for Sympathy for the Couriers (Vehicule Press). On the short list were
Katia Grubisic’s What if red ran out (Goose Lane Editions) and Joshua Auerbach’s Radius Of Light (DC Books). All three are LCP members.
Former member Nina Bruck’s chapbook, Still Light at Five O’Clock (Sky of Ink Press) was one of three winners of the 2008 Writer’s Circle of Durham Region Chapbook Challenge, a competition that saw submissions from all over North America. The chap, by the way, was edited and produced by myself and Raphael Bendahan.
“Emblem”, a poem of mine previously published in Prairie Fire was chosen by the BC Ministry of Education for use on its Grade 12 exams. Lesley Pasquin, meanwhile, won first prize for Poetry with Room Magazine. Carolyn Marie Souaid took over this year as poetry editor of Signature Editions.
The Atwater Poetry Project, besides giving stage to a number of prominent out-of-towners, also saw readings by Maxianne Berger, Kaie Kellough and former member Carmine Starnino.
The Yellow Door,Visual Arts Centre, Poetry Plus, Noches de Poesia, Words and Music, and WIRE (West Island Reader’s Electric) are the ongoing local English language poetry series in and around Montreal – and this year their stages hosted (besides a fair number of out-of-province poets) the likes of Stephen Morrissey, Maxianne Berger, Julie Mahfood, Fortner Anderson, Geoff Cook, Ian Ferrier, Stephanie Bolster, Helen Zisimatos, Johanna Skibsrud, Carolyn Zonailo, Joshua Auerbach, Angela Carr, Erin Mouré, Lesley Pasquin, Oana Avasilichioaei, and myself.
The June 2 2008 QWF Schmoozpalooza featured two panels, with each member championing an outstanding short literary work by a Quebec English-Language author. The poetry panel consisted of Stephanie Bolster (who chose The Slough by Bruce Taylor), Geoffrey Cook (The Confused Heart by Robyn Sarah), and Catherine Kidd (Stanazas 1-13 of the Encantadas by Robert Allen). This event was hosted by CBC host Anne Lagacé Dowson.
23-26 October Bryan Sentes read and presented a paper “ Charm Schools: Modes of Petitio Benevolentiae in Contemporary Canadian Poetry” at the States of Art International Poetry Conference in Saarbrücken, Germany.
In October the Spoiled Artists’ Liberation Army (SALA) did its bit to put on ice Stephen Harper’s election hopes in Quebec, with this YouTube video excoriating proposed culture cuts. Some of you may recognize its incognito participants, who may be found hiding in certain secret caves in the hills of Mont Royal.
Endre Farkas’ play “Haunted House” was presented by Tableau D’Hôte at the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts in late February through to early March. The play is about A.M. Klein, whose 100th birthday was in February 2009. The play was well received, had very good reviews and sold out most nights.
Also in February, Fortner Anderson’s recent drawings and collage work were exhibited at the Luz Gallery in Montreal.
University of Montreal’s Sense and Sustainability conference in March 2009 featured readings by myself, Ian Ferrier, Carolyn Marie Souaid, Charolotte Hussey, and Bryan Sentes. In the same month, the Montreal Zen Poetry Festival featured Erin Mouré and Oana Avasilichioaei.
Carolyn Souaid also read at the Ottawa International Writer’s Festival in April and hosted two panels at the Blue Metropolis Festival. Kaie Kellough, meanwhile, ran a multimedia show at Blue Met which involved a dramatic reading of improvised material generated by an audience of several dozen tapping furiously on laptops.
Maxianne Berger was April’s Poet-in-Residence for the League’s Young Poets’ Forum, and in July will give a tanka workshop at Camp Haïku in Baie-Comeau.
All those who launched books have embarked on national reading tours – Carolyn Marie Souaid to Ottawa, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Victoria, myself to Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Vancouver, and Oana Avasilichioaei to schools in Ontario as well as other destinations (well, she didn’t give me details) far and wide.
On May 3, Quebec members had their (W)rites of Spring reading and fundraiser at the Arts Café. Featured readers included Kaie Kellough, Maxianne Berger, Angela Carr, Charlotte Hussey, Michaela Sefler, Johanna Skibsrud, Lesley Pasquin, Carolyn Zonailo, Stephen Morrissey, myself and Ontario member Sonja Greckol. The event was well-attended, featured raffles for books and feedback from Steven Michael Berzensky (Mick Burrs) and Maurice Mierau, and raised a total of $145 for the League.
The reason I’m writing the report this year is that Angela Leuck, who took over from me as Quebec/Nunavut rep last June, had to step down for personal reasons. I agreed to take the reins again as of last February. As always, it has been a great pleasure to serve as Quebec/Nunavut’s rep. Ian Ferrier will be taking over from me this June, assuming his acclamation at this year’s LCP Fest and Conference. Former QWF President and prominent facilitator and participant in Quebec’s Spoken Word scene, Ian has many talents and abilities to bring to that role. He intends in particular to use his connections with younger poets to increase awareness of the League and bring more members into its fold.