Molly Peacock’s Lansdowne Lecture: Where CNF Meets Poetry

lansdowne-smallAs part of UVic’s Faculty of Humanities’ Lansdowne Lecture series, Toronto writer Molly Peacock will present her talk, “Fact, Metaphor and the Single Voice: Where Creative Nonfiction Meets Poetry.”

This event takes place tonight, March 17 at 7:30pm (doors 7pm), Human/Social Development building, room A240.

Although the essay seems very much part of worldly thought and communication, and the poem seems very much part of a more rarified, ineffable world, the intuition of the poem and the savoir faire of the essay have much in common.

This is what Molly Peacock has to say about her Lansdowne Lecture:

“When a poem thinks, mulls, considers and meditates upon a subject, it approaches becoming an essay. When an essay uses language to visualize ideas or to make thoughts sing, it approaches the poetic. Facts, the province of nonfiction, enter poems; metaphors and similes, the province of poetry, enter nonfiction. In the essay the voice of the author, whether that be soulful or humorous or journalistic is a constructed persona with a stance toward the world. The single voice both guides creative nonfiction and drives the poem.”

Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader of Canada, Reads at Words on Ice March 18

Elizabeth May - Author PhotoThe Malahat‘s annual literary festival descends on Victoria this week, March 16 – 20! We’re prepped for four days of all things WordsThaw: a film premiere, a Lansdowne Lecture, readings, panel discussions, and workshops between readers and writers of all levels.

One of this year’s highlighted readers is none other than Green Party Leader and MP Elizabeth May, who reads Friday, March 18, 7:30 p.m. for Words on Ice, an evening gala reading celebrating Canadian literature. She is the author of eight books, most recently, Who We Are: Reflections on my Life and on Canada (2014) and Losing Confidence: Power, Politics and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy, (2009). She is an environmentalist, writer, activist and lawyer, with a long record as a dedicated advocate — for social justice, for the environment, for human rights, and for pragmatic economic solutions. She was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2005.

Elizabeth May reads alongside eight other writers: M.A.C. Farrant, Stella Harvey, Jeremy Loveday, Elizabeth May, Molly Peacock, Kim Trainor, Laura Trunkey, and J.D. Zapf

Official Trailer for “The Trick with the Gun”

WordsThaw fires off with a bang next Wednesday, March 16, 7:15pm, and it all starts with the film screening at UVic’s Cinecenta of The Trick with the Gun! See here for more info on tickets.

What happens when friends risk their lives – and friendship – for the sake of a magic trick? The Bullet Catch: It’s the most dangerous illusion in magic. Fourteen men and women have died performing it. In The Trick With the Gun magician Scott Hammell and author Christopher Gudgeon set out to perform their own version of the deadly trick, and get more than they bargained for. What begins as an exploration of the hidden world of magic ends as a study of a friendship falling apart. It’s a story about risk, relationships and the delicate dance between reality and illusion . . . and how everything changes when you’re staring down the barrel of a gun.

The film screening will be followed by an on-stage interview of Gudgeon by last year’s Southam Lecturer, Mark Leiren-Young.

Interview with Frances Backhouse, Speaker at “CNF in Canada Today” Panel

backhouse_francesUVic MFA candidate Annabel Howard talks with Frances Backhouse, UVic Faculty member and author of six nonfiction books, including Once They Were Hats: In Search of the Mighty Beaver and Children of the Klondike, which won the 2010 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. The two discuss Backhouse’s role as panelist for Creative Nonfiction in Canada Today: Fact, Fiction, or Scandal?, one of three interactive panel discussions at this year’s literary symposium, WordsThaw.

This panel will take place Saturday, March 19, 3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. at the University of Victoria.

Your most recent book, Once They Were Hats: In Search of the Mighty Beaver (2015)has been very well received with, amongst others, a glowing review from the National Post. As is the case with almost all works of CNF, there is a tendency for reviews to focus on content and not form. How do you feel about this, and how think it reflects on CNF’s place in Canada’s literary landscape?

I don’t mind content-focused reviews of my books, provided the reviewer gets the facts right. However, as a reader and a writer, I prefer reviews that consider form and style alongside content. I was satisfied with the extent to which the National Post review and one that appeared a month later in the Globe and Mail did consider my book’s form and style, partly because I’ve seen plenty of reviews (including some in those publications) that neglect those elements entirely. Continue reading

WordsThaw Prequel Event on March 12 at UVic’s Ideafest

March 12_ENGL_Papyrus to pixels_VERSION 3 0Presented by hosts Rhonda Batchelor of The Malahat Review and Christine Walde of Archives and Special Collections, University of Victoria Libraries, Prompts from the Past will introduce the wealth of material housed in Special Collections and explore ways in which this rich source might be tapped for creative projects. The second half of the session features a brief writing workshop, guided by Micaela Maftei, where interested participants can view selected items from the collection in order to produce a short piece of creative writing.

This event takes place Saturday March 12, 11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m., room A003 of the McPherson Library on UVic’s campus. Admission is free and open to the public.

Interview with Heather Dean, Moderator for “Literary Afterlives” Panel

UVic Librarian and Malahat Poetry Board member Christine Walde talks with Heather Dean, Associate Director of Special Collections at the University of Victoria Libraries, about the construction and importance of literary archives, and her role as moderator for Literary Afterlives: Exploring the Meaning and Values of Writers and Archives, one of three interactive panel discussions at this year’s literary symposium, WordsThaw.

This panel will take place Saturday, March 19, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., at the University of Victoria.

heather-deanWhen it comes to archives, how are writers’ archives both similar and different from other bodies of information, and what is so compelling about writers’ archives? How do they help us to understand the writers’ process?

The archives of writers are like the personal archives of many people: they contain artifacts of our everyday lives from diaries and letters to legal and financial records. I think one of the things that make writers’ archives especially compelling is the public fascination with the personal lives of authors and their creative process. Writers’ archives, like the archives of other creatives, are fascinating because it can be difficult to untangle the personal from the professional. In order to understand a piece of writing it can be useful to look not only at drafts of writing but also at correspondence and diaries and the larger context in which an author was working and who their intellectual circle was. Continue reading

Sign Up for a “Brief Encounter” Blue-Pencil Workshop Session

Annabel Howard - Author PhotoGet your work critiqued by local Victoria writers during 15-minute blue-pencil sessions at this year’s WordsThaw symposium!

These “brief encounters” are complimentary with the purchase of a WordsThaw pass. Each writer only has four workshop slots available, so act fast. Sessions take place at the University of Victoria on Saturday, March 19 over the noon lunch hour. See more details on registration.

Writers include Stephanie Harrington (creative nonfiction), Annabel Howard (creative nonfiction; pictured), Keith Jones (graphic novel / cartooning), Troy Sebastian (poetry), Melanie Siebert (poetry), and Katherine Wagner (fiction).

Buy your WordsThaw pass today and sign up with the author of your choice!

Interview with Anita Lahey, Moderator for “Investigative Poet” Panel

Victoria’s Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer talks with Anita Lahey, assistant series editor of Best Canadian Poetry in English and past editor of Arc Poetry Magazine, about her role as moderator for Investigative Poet: Observer, Researcher, Analyst, one of three interactive panel discussions at this year’s WordsThaw.

This panel will take place Saturday, March 19, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., at the University of Victoria.

lahey_anitaOften poets are thought of as artists, those who can take facts or “truths” and do with them as they wish. A poet might remind herself that she doesn’t have to stick to the facts, which sometimes get in the way of the poem. She may remind herself to play with those truths to reach deeper or other truths. How does this notion of the poet or how a poem develops relate to your idea of poet as researcher or journalist?

I’m thinking about how a poet can absorb a fact and transform it, through language, context, juxtaposition—how poets, unlike journalists, can take the fruits of their research and not so much present that data inaccurately, but find a home for it within a poem that gives it a changed reality, that maybe brings to the surface a different truth within the fact than the one we previously noticed or thought was important. This is how poets can offer a slant perspective, or turn our sense of reality (and their own) upside down. To create this kind of art a fidelity to the facts—a reliance on facts, of both the ordinary and extraordinary kind—is necessary, just not perhaps the sort of fidelity we are accustomed to in mainstream journalism. Continue reading

Save March 16 to 20 for WordsThaw 2016

While the emphasis this year is on creative nonfiction to celebrate the publication of The Malahat Review’s Winter 2015 issue, which is a theme issue on the genre, there will be plenty of poetry and fiction for everyone.

Highlights include the Victoria theatrical premiere of Christopher Gudgeon’s film The Trick with the Gun on Wednesday, March 16; Molly Peacock’s Lansdowne Lecture, “Fact, Metaphor, and the Single Voice” on Thursday, March 17; and Words on Ice, our gala reading on Friday, March 18, with nine writers, including author and Member of Parliament Elizabeth May.

WordsThaw Poster

Saturday, March 19, will be busy with three panel discussion on the afterlives of writers’ papers, the investigative acumen of poets, and the direction creative nonfiction is going today. If you register early, you can sign up for a Brief Encounter (15-minute blue-pencil workshop session) to have your writing critiqued in one of four genres: CNF, poetry, fiction, and graphic novel. WordsThaw concludes on March 20 with Molly Peacock’s Master Class, “The Sonnet as a Secret Essay.”

Attend a single event or sign up for it all. And if the five days of WordsThaw aren’t enough, check out our prequels on February 12 and March 12.