Monday, July 19, 2010

The League of Canadian Poets AGM in Toronto

The League meeting was really enjoyable for me this year.  Many sessions and readings began with someone reading a poem from Pat Lowther.  I hadn’t read Lowther for a number of years, and it was great to be reminded what an outstanding poet she was.  The new Collected is out now and is a must read!  I know the readings were painful for some, but I found it celebratory in a quiet sort of way.

I was asked to participate on a panel on ekphrasis, poetry about the visual arts, organized by Ruth Roach Pierson.  She read an insightful paper that laid out the historical background of ekphrasis.  John Reibetanz was on the panel, and his paper contained all the delightful wit we’ve come to expect from him.  I didn’t give a paper exactly.  Instead I listed eight ways of thinking about ekphrasis and talked about how they might be approached if you were writing an ekphrastic poem.  The panel was chaired by Anita Lahey, who is editing an issue of ARC on ekphrasis.

There was an excellent panel on experimental poetry.  Sina Queyras was captivating in talking about how politics are shaped in the open field of her work.  She also gave an exceptional reading from Expressway at the Bar Italia, as part of the opening night celebrations.

Anne Simpson gave the Szumagalski lecture this year.  I won’t recapitulate it here.  Watch for it on The League's website in the section on The Anne Szumagalski Lectures Series.  It’s not up yet, but if you want to look at what Tim Lilburn or Anne Carson have given in the past, the full texts are available.

The Lampert Prize for best first book is always interesting, the shortlist providing a group of writers many of whom you haven’t heard of yet.  James Langer won the award for Gun Dogs.  I realize that I am biased, but I think this is a book we’ll all be reading years from now.

Karen Solie won the The Pat Lowther Memorial Award for Pigeon, obviously a very fine book.  It’s been showered with awards.  Take a look and see.

Ross Leckie