Karen Houle gave a synchronous reading on Feb. 4 from The Grand River Watershed: A Folk Anthology, short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2019. This event, funded by the Canada Council and Writers’ Union of Canada as part of the National Public Readings Program, was cosponsored by Renison University College at University of Waterloo and the Elora Poetry Centre & Gallery.
The following is from the book’s publisher, Gaspereau Press:
The Grand River Watershed: A Folk Ecology Karen Houle
How might we grasp the natural history of a river in a way that transcends mere data and description? How might we chronicle the way in which a living consortium of geology, weather, plants, animals and people has impacted, and been impacted by, the existence of a particular watercourse over the passage of time? In her new book, philosopher and poet Karen Houle employs the wiliest tool she knows—poetry—to contemplate the complexities of the Grand River watershed in southern Ontario, stretching our notions of what can be known about a river.
Houle’s writing is inspired by, and borrows from, various kinds of scientific inquiry and documentation, integrating strands of thought from across the fields of archeology, entomology, molecular ecology, cultural anthropology and geography. But these established sources aren’t presented as the sole custodians of all that’s worth knowing. With often jarring juxtapositions and a prosody that sometimes flirts with chaos, Houle’s poems make a virtue of straining against the settled rules, agitating for a more complex, robust portrayal of the Grand River watershed by fusing apparently disparate narratives and methodologies—the scientific and the anecdotal, the personal and the collective, the emotion and the information, and the organic and the manufactured.
Like the river itself, Houle’s The Grand River Watershed suggests how seemingly jumbled, separate parts in fact exist in a web of relationships. For Houle, the best hope we have of comprehending the complexities of a phenomenon like the Grand River is rooted in our accumulated encounters with, and our collective articulation of, the river’s countless aspects over time, not in any one measurable part or moment of it.
Houle’s creative pairing of literary and ecological modes presents the Grand River as a complex living system that is full of interconnection and meaning, reinvigorating poetry’s possibilities as a tool for engaging with and speaking of the natural world.
The Elora Poetry Centre & Gallery, in conjunction with Renison University College, University of Waterloo, hosted a synchronous panel discussion on Canadian literary appropriation. Growing out of interviews on this subject recently published in Gordon Hill Press’s In/Appropriate, this event was open to members of ARTS 130, friends of The Elora Poetry Centre & Gallery, and the general public.
The panel included Jeremy Luke Hill (publisher), Kim Davids Mandar (editor), and three contributors to In/Appropriate: Farzana Doctor, Wayne Grady, and Mahak Jain. (Please see links for biographies below.)
Here is the video link to the synchronous discussion:
Assistance was provided by Victoria Feth of The Centre for Teaching Excellence at University of Waterloo.
The event was sponsored by two long-time friends of The Elora Poetry Centre & Gallery, Janice Ferri and Peter Skoggard.
The Elora Poetry Centre was excited to engage in present discourse on literary appropriation in Canada. It was our pleasure to host these five distinguished panelists who are helping to determine the direction that Canadian literature will take in the near future. In light of recent controversies that resulted in the publication of another important book on the current state of Canadian literature, Refuse: CanLit in Ruins, we want to be part of these discussions.
We were very excited to have Rae Crossman , well known poet on both radio and stage, and Tilly Kooyman, distinguished clarinetist of international acclaim, perform at the Elora Poetry Centre.
Confluence of Words and Music
Poetry of Rae Crossman with Music Performed by Clarinetist Tilly Kooyman
Featuring Compositions by R. Murray Schafer
In this presentation, language and music flow together to evoke misty
dawns, forest hikes, and river passages. Listen to bird song, cataract chants,
and wind wail. Touch the tip of a young spruce. Read the rough calligraphy of
bear marks. See an amber bead of sap lanced with light.
Kitchener, Rae Crossman writes poetry both for the page and for oral performance.
His poems have been published in
literary magazines, broadcast on CBC Radio, dramatized on stage, performed and
recorded as vocal music, and displayed on transit systems across Canada. Collaborative projects include storytelling, choral compositions, and
theatrical pieces set in natural environments.For more than twenty-five years, in canoes and along forest trails, Rae
has lived the roles of several mythological characters in R. Murray Schafer’s Theatre
of Confluence. He has served as a short story editor
for The New Quarterly and has received a Waterloo Region Arts Award for
his artistic endeavours across disciplines.
Guelph clarinetist Tilly Kooyman is an active solo, chamber and orchestral musician, with particular interests in contemporary music, interdisciplinary works and sound ecology. She has performed across Canada and toured Japan with the Higashi-Hiroshima Clarinet Ensemble. An advocate for Canadian music, Tilly has premiered many works by Canadian composers at the World Bass Clarinet Convention in the Netherlands, the International Bohlen-Pierce Symposium in Boston, and with various ensembles broadcast on CBC Radio.
Tilly and Rae have
frequently collaborated as members of the performance group SlanT, and have
appeared together at the Open Ears Festival, Stratford Summer Music Festival,
International Clarinetfest, Narrative Matters Conference, Soundstreams, and
other events. For three decades they have participated in R. Murray Schafer’s Patria
works and drawn inspiration from his call for art to be transformational. “What
is the purpose of art? First, exaltation. Let us speak of that.”
Book Launch: 29 June 2019, 4:00 p.m. Jeremy Luke Hill’s Poetry of Thought has been published by Interludes of the Elora Poetry Centre. Luke read from and signed his new chapbook. Music was by Adam and Rain, an acoustic duo who play folk/roots inspired original music, and uniquely interpreted covers.
Luke is the publisher at Gordon Hill Press, based in Guelph. He is also the Managing Director of Vocamus Writers Community, a non-profit community organization that supports book culture in Guelph.
He has written a collection of poetry, short prose, and photography called Island Pieces. Other works include three chapbooks of poetry called Can Con, Trumped, and These My Streets; two poetry broadsheets called Grounded and Indexical; and an ongoing series of poetry broadsheets called Conversations with Viral Media. He also writes a semi-regular column on chapbooks for The Town Crier. His writing has appeared in The Bull Calf, CV2, EVENT Magazine, Filling Station, Free Fall, The Goose, HA&L, The Maynard, paperplates, Queen Mob’s Tea House, The Rusty Toque, The Town Crier, The Windsor Review.
A perfect summer afternoon was the setting of a double-bill of two esteemed poets, Asa Boxer and Max Layton, both sons of poets who emerged from Montreal in the 1950’s.Asa read from his new chap book Field Notes From the Undead (published by the Elora Poetry Centre & Gallery/Interludes) and earlier publications The Mechanical Bird and Skullduggery, along with some wonderful new material composed since his last visit.Tilly Kooyman provided a creative accompaniment to parts of the reading on her clarinet.Max, eldest son of Irving Layton, read from several of his works, including his latest book of poems LIKE, which has just been published by Guernica Editions, after opening with three of his songs, on which he accompanied himself on the guitar.A short discussion followed in the house and garden, with a buffet and drinks. Tom Althouse of Silk Purse Recordings, Elora, has agreed to assist us in archiving this and future events.
croc E Moses, whom several of you may have met here last year, read from a wide range of poems and songs from his thirty years in South Africa. He topped it off with some new material written since he returned to Canada, where he has been living in rural Ontario.
This was another double bill to celebrate Michael Rothenberg’s annual global initiative 100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE.
It was a day to promote peace & social change with emphasis on the needs of all children. bill bissett, accompanied by pete dako, returned for a half reading, continuing from their colourful range of work of the previous year.
Our other featured poet was Brian Henderson, who has now retired as Director of Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Brian has eleven publications, the latest being [OR] from Talonbooks. Nerve Language (2007) was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Brian read from his twelfth publication, Unidentified Poetic Object, forthcoming from Brick in spring 2019.
Both bill bissett and Brian Henderson were sponsored by The Canada Council for the Arts and The Writers’ Union of Canada. Morvern McNie and Jerry Prager rounded out the poetry performances.
A highlight of the day was The Voices of the Anatolian Girls, with Ali Ihsan Okan playing the kanun, and Mehlika Altay and Betul Okan singing. They delivered a powerful performance dedicated to the children presently imprisoned in Turkey.
Afterwards, everybody enjoyed the usual finger food and drinks, with people mingling and sharing their thoughts on the day’s memorable performances.
Asa Boxer read from his newer works, accompanied by Tilly Kooyman on the clarinet. A lengthy discussion period followed, after which there was the usual finger food and drinks. Asa’s new chapbook, Field Notes from the Undead, will be published at his reading at the poetry centre 28th of July. Copies will be available for purchase.
A big thank you to those who attended our annual Environmental Sculpture Day and the Elora Puppets who, even though en route they lost Sir Arthur Montgomery-ffinch, who was to have been the attending art critic, still performed their version of Stone Soup. Soup, focaccia and drinks, plus goodies supplied by guests, followed the work of the day! Janice Ferri and Peter Skoggard sent some of the photographs of the day which are posted elsewhere on this site.