Literary Arts Week Shows Aspiring UFV Writers their Future

We kicked off Literary Arts Week in style with the arrival of our WIR, Jordan Abel, the launch of the latest issue of the Pacific Rim Review of Books, and a colloquium on the current state of Canada’s publishing industry.

Jordan Abel got things started. After talking about how his Nisga’a identity informs his creative process, he literally mixed things up by demonstrating the most vibrant poetry reading we’ve seen at UFV. Abel’s strikingly experimental performance involved tracking down passages from all the public domain Western novels (think cowboys, the frontier, Wyatt Earp, etc.) on Project Gutenberg in which the problematic term “injun” is used, then recording his reading of these 512 sentences. Finally, with his own audio equipment on hand, Abel looped these recordings together live for us. The experience of listening to passages from found texts overlapping, cutting each other off, and echoing each other through Abel’s digital manipulations completely wowed the packed room at University House.

Later that afternoon, English students and faculty celebrated their many contributions to Issue 21, Volume 11.1 of the Pacific Rim Review of Books. This new issue showcases reviews and features by Katie Stobbart, Jessica Milliken, Julia Dovey, Trevor Carolan, Hilary Turner, and more.

Robert Martens then provided a contemplative reading that beautifully offset Abel’s energetic performance. Beginning with his now-classic poem, “baptized”, Martens continued on to share work from his latest poetry collection, Hush. Among other feats, he managed not only to pair up Buddha with Menno Simons, but also to explain “Why Every Poem Needs an F-bomb.”

Next, the publishing panel provided UFV’s young writers with inspiration and encouragement. Richard Olafson, the publisher of Ekstasis Editions and the Pacific Rim Review of Books, explained how he began, advising new writers to band together to “start a scene.” Olafson is convinced that creative thinking is the future of work in today’s knowledge economy and promised that all young poets will find gainful employment.

Proving his point, UFV English Honours alumni Katie Stobbart described the scene she’s started with other UFV English alumni. With Jess Wind, Stobbart has founded QuiQuill Communications. With Anthony Biondi and others, Stobbart has launched Raspberry, a magazine that engages Fraser Valley communities with local arts and culture through story. Stobbart described the pros and cons of online and print publishing, explaining that Raspberry is currently available in digital form but will someday grace the shelves of local galleries, coffee shops, and offices. Her advice to students hoping to earn a living from their art is to work harder than they believed possible to create something worthwhile—and then work at it some more.

In response, our WIR offered his own advice to aspiring writers: “publish at all levels all the time.” He shared examples from his own impressive breadth as a writer and editor, promising that each experience provides valuable opportunities to learn and improve.

So far Literary Arts Week has offered more than just good times or powerful writing—it’s encouraged UFV students to keep writing too.

And there’s more to come at 2:30 on Wednesday, February 22nd, when veteran Canadian literary superstars Gary Geddes and Ann Ericksson speak at U House.  See you there!


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