Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan announcement

I still can't believe it. This is snipped from the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild site:

What I want to say here is thank you. And I want to say it now rather than later. Life being what it is, anything can happen between now and the beginning of the term. The thank you I posted yesterday on another platform could use some revision and editing, but it was the best I could do at the time and I don't think I can see it properly yet. Here it is as it appeared:

If this Poet Laureate news comes as a surprise to you, imagine how I feel!

I can’t seem to get this thank you right, but here goes. I’ve lived in Saskatchewan for most of my life and I love it here. It’s amazing to live in a province and country that gives poets positions like this. After all, poets aren’t easy to steer for the most part. Poets, as I know them, aren’t really into following. But this position has a job description. There are duties. The position honours not the poet so much as the poems, writing, and all the other art - mine and yours - that arise from lives closely attended to. It honours all those who came before and all those to come. It honours the communities to which we belong and it honours the occasions we share. It honours the places we write about: in my case, the farm where I grew up, the mining town where I live, and every road I travel; it honours every bird that makes me hit the brakes.

Thank you so much to the person who nominated me; it was a wonderful surprise and a great honour in itself.

Thank you to the publishers who publish my work and work so hard to make sure voices like mine and yours have a chance to be heard. As we know, many publishers are writers themselves.

Thank you to the editors who help make my work better.

Thank you to our arts organizations and funders. Again, many of the people working to meet our arts and cultural needs are writers and artists themselves.

Thank you to those who give me paying work.

Thank you to the writing community and larger arts community for welcoming me, supporting me, and helping me grow.

Thank you to the readers, listeners, and viewers.

Thank you to my neighbours.

Thank you to my friends.

Thank you to my family as always.

Thank you to H for everything.

Thank you to those who believe I can do this job. I’ll do my best.

My term begins on April Fools’ Day.

I'm grateful for the Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Program and all that it has contributed to our province and beyond since its inception. I know and have great respect for Glen Sorestad, Louise B. Halfe, Robert Currie, Donald Kerr, Judith Krause, and Gerald Hill. Each brought the fullness of who they are to the role, and their vision, energy, and generosity left me feeling energized and excited about who we are and how alive this place is. That helped me grow as a writer, artist, and person. Thank you to each one of them for setting wonderful examples and setting the bar impossibly high. But I'm a poet and, like most poets I know, I'll try and keep trying. I'll keep jumping for as long as I can jump.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Change to Ore Samples spring schedule

Copied from Ore Samples :

We're working to bring these exciting visiting authors to our community!

Candace Savage on May 18!

George Elliott Clarke cannot come to Flin Flon on June 8 due to a scheduling conflict. We're working on a new date. Stay tuned! 

Ore Samples Writers Series gratefully acknowledges support from Artists in Communities. Artists in Communities is a joint initiative of the Saskatchewan Arts Board and SaskCulture Inc., and is supported by funding provided by the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation. Thank you to our community partners Flin Flon Public Library and Flin Flon Arts Council, and sponsors Hudbay and the Victoria Inn.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Had a great time in Regina Talking Fresh and the Sage Hill Salon. The Talking Fresh presenters Eden Robinson, Falen Johnson, George Elliott Clarke, and Sue Goyette were great on the topic of risk, and the Sage Hill headliners George Elliott Clarke, Katherine Lawrence, and The Ben Winoski Project proved perfect for the Sage Hill Salon. It was great seeing so many friends and being at events that were so well-organized and seamless. Hats off to those who donated so generously to the Sage Hill Salon fundraiser.

On the way to Regina we saw a Northern Hawk Owl for the first time in years. I thought it was listening intently to something in the distance, perhaps another owl, but now I suspect it saw the blizzard coming, and what a blizzard it was!

Speaking of looking ahead: March 17 is the deadline to get your applications in to the Sage Hill Spring Poetry Colloquium with Tim Lilburn. Apply here. Tell your friends. Storm ahead with your work!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sage Hill Salon in Regina March 4

Please come out and support this fundraising event. It will be a great evening.  

Buy advance tickets at the Sage Hill Writing site. Tickets also available at the door.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fault Lines: Life and Landscape in Saskatchewan’s Oil Economy

Fault Lines: Life and Landscape in Saskatchewan’s Oil Economy
Photographs by Valerie Zink, Text by Emily Eaton
University of Manitoba Press
Published September 2016, 108 pages

 “As spectators, we need to recognize our participation in photography’s representation of the real and, especially, the oscillation between acts of memory and acts of imagination that make photographic experience matter,” writes Martha Langford near the end of the chapter “Memory and Imagination” in her book Scissors, Paper, Stone: Expressions of Memory in Contemporary Photographic Art. But it’s the final paragraph of that chapter that sprang to mind when I finished Fault Lines: “The photographic spaces that we create between the original and translation are filled with purposive imagining: we are sometimes pointed toward change. Works such as Wall’s and Yoon’s want us to reimagine our communities,” Langford writes. Taken as a whole, the images of Valerie Zink and text of Emily Eaton in Fault Lines seem to want us to do the same.

Such a call to our imaginations comes in “A Note on the Photographs” at the beginning of Fault Lines. Valerie Zink, a photographer living in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, whose seventy-seven striking and evocative full-page black and white images grace the pages, ends the brief note with this: “More than a lament for a pastoral plains, these images testify to a moment of transition and urge viewers to consider the complex consequences of rural communities’ engagement with the oil economy.”

A distillation of a research project, the accompanying text “is based on more than seventy interviews” conducted by Emily Eaton, associate professor of geography at the University of Regina and author of Growing Resistance: Canadian Farmers and the Politics of Genetically Modified Wheat. In the introduction she gives a brief overview of the “boom-bust cycle of the oil economy” and states “This book explores the contradictory nature of the recent oil boom in Saskatchewan and examines how individuals and communities living amid oil struggled through a mix of engagement, celebration, ambivalence, and resistance to oil economies.” And Fault Lines does this, using select examples from the interviews as snapshots to illustrate her points. 
What Fault Lines does not do is give us a good sense as to who Zink and Eaton are in relation to the places explored and this question haunted me throughout the book. Whose gaze are we considering, whose vantage point? In the introduction to Forest Prairie Edge: Place History in Saskatchewan, Merle Massie introduces herself. She tells us who she is, where she comes from, her relation to the place under examination, and why the research is important to her. This context makes it easy to understand why people would invite her in and why they’d open up to her during interviews. Thus she establishes a level of trust in the reader. No such information is given in Fault Lines, though one must assume that the more than seventy people interviewed must have asked questions of Eaton before they consented to interviews.

Like the last sentence of Zink’s note, the second last sentence of Eaton’s conclusion is a call to our imaginations: “The burden is on us all to bring to life alternatives that can break the cycle of boom and bust and that are more environmentally and socially just.” At this point I called my partner Harvey into my office to look at the photographs in Fault Lines, the ones of Swift Current in particular. We’d stopped in Swift Current in the summer of 2014 and I waited in the car in a busy parking lot looking at the doors of the very mall Zink had photographed that same summer. My experience in that parking lot, a place buzzing with the young and the old, the seemingly affluent and the seemingly poor, a range of hipsters and hippies, suits and cowboy hats and campers and truckers with travel mugs sweating like me, ring-billed gulls circling above, contrasts sharply with the lone figure of an elderly man walking away from the mall as captured by Zink. That summer I marveled at how much Swift Current had grown and changed, how vibrant it seemed, and remember the feeling of joy and relief when Harvey finally appeared in the crowd with our camping supplies, a loaf of French bread, a chunk of Gouda, and a big bag of ice. 

In Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs, photographer Sally Mann writes, “All perception is selection, and all photographs – no matter how objectively journalistic the photographer’s intent – exclude aspects of the moment’s complexity. Photographs economize the truth; they are always moments more or less illusorily abducted from time’s continuum.” In Fault Lines, thought-provoking images, engaging writing, and the careful curation and placement of image and detail are further enhanced by a beautiful and clever design. The first page of the chapter titled “The Past, Present, and Future of Oil in Saskatchewan” ends mid-sentence: “An exploration boom ensued, and by the early 1950s the industry had expanded into” and this is where you turn the page to find the image of a grinning girl in a cowboy hat, her two front teeth just beginning to grow in. We’re expected to notice this expanse and expansion, I suspect, this gap and growth, and I suspect that we’re expected to feel clever, make the expected imaginative leaps, and buy into the overall design.    

Friday, January 13, 2017

More great Ore coming this spring!

The Ore Samples Writers Series came to be last January. A real community effort, it has been eye-opening, heart-warming, and overwhelmingly successful by many measures. It's been especially wonderful getting to know the vibrant local writing community better and feeling our relationships strengthen over the course of the year. I hope this continues in 2017. Speaking of which...

Copied from the Ore blog:

We're forecasting an amazing spring! 

Mark your calendars and check out books by Candace Savage and George Elliott Clarke. Brilliant writers and brilliant thinkers, these authors have made and continue to make great contributions to their various communities. Both events will be held at the Flin Flon Public Library. More details closer to the dates. In the meantime, happy reading!

Ore Samples Writers Series gratefully acknowledges support from Artists in Communities. Artists in Communities is a joint initiative of the Saskatchewan Arts Board and SaskCulture Inc., and is supported by funding provided by the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation. Thank you to our community partners Flin Flon Public Library and Flin Flon Arts Council, and sponsors Hudbay and the Victoria Inn.