Remembering former Writing chair David Godfrey

An award-winning author, a publishing visionary, a pioneer in on-campus computing and an early Writing department chair—David Godfrey was all this and so much more. The Department of Writing is saddened to announce the passing of this former professor at the age of 77.

David Godfrey, seen later in life at his Cowichan Valley vineyard

David Godfrey, seen later in life at his Cowichan Valley vineyard

The winner of the Governor General’s Award for English language fiction in 1970 for his novel The New Ancestors, Dave Godfrey was also the co-founder of iconic Canadian publisher House of Anansi, as well as the New Press and was the editor of Press Porcépic—which became the publishing house The Porcupine’s Quill. Chair of the Writing department from 1977 to 1982, Godfrey retired from the department in 1998 to operate the 60-acre Godfrey-Brownell Vineyards in the Cowichan Valley.

“I was an admirer of Dave Godfrey’s writing long before I joined him in the Department of Writing,” notes retired Writing professor Jack Hodgins. “His great novel The New Ancestors seemed to be opening up something new in Canadian fiction. That he had attended both the famous Iowa State and Stanford writing programs made him a valuable colleague in a writing program. I was impressed, too, that he had been one of those Ontario writers—like Matt Cohen and several others—who were creating a new Canadian literature for our generation. Somehow he made me feel welcome to join him in this enterprise.”

Born in Winnipeg, Godfrey was educated at Trinity College at the University of Toronto, Iowa State University and Stanford University, and taught English and music in Ghana for several years during the 1960s. Upon his return to Canada, he taught at U of T before arriving at UVic. As the Globe & Mail noted in this obituary, Godfrey’s time at what is now the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (where he earned an MFA in 1963 and a PhD in 1966) was foundational. “He was mentored by the novelist Hortense Calisher, taught by Malcolm Cowley, played tennis with Philip Roth, hung out with Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove) and Ken Kesey as Mr. Kesey worked up the manuscript for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and made wine with Raymond Carver.”

Godfrey seen during  his time in the Writing department

Godfrey seen during his time in the Writing department

Current Writing professor Joan MacLeod had Godfrey as a professor when she was an undergrad in the Writing department back in the 1970s. “He had a strong reputation not only for his editorial skills but also his fiction. He co-taught the fiction workshop I was in, where I started a novel that eventually became my MFA thesis,” she recalls. “He was incredibly good to me and incredibly supportive. He made me feel like I had a voice.” Fast-forward 25 years to when MacLeod’s play The Shape of a Girl was playing at the Belfry Theatre. “He came down from his home up-island to attend the play. It was so great that he had kept up with me a little bit.”

Retired Writing professor Lorna Crozier remembers Godfrey as being “generous, sharp and excited about ideas and young people. He was a central figure in the Canadian renaissance, in our belief that our own stories have value. We need more of his kind now.” (Indeed, Godfrey is described as a “modern-day renaissance man” in this 2007 article from BC Business magazine about his vineyard—which also played host to the 2013 Rock of the Woods music festival.)

Farley Mowat (left) & Dave Godfrey at UVic in 1982 (photo: UVic Archives)

Farley Mowat (left) & Dave Godfrey at UVic in 1982 (photo: UVic Archives)

Dave Godfrey’s legacy lives on in the three publishing houses he helped create. House of Anansi Press was founded in 1967 by Godfrey and writer Dennis Lee as a small press with a mandate to publish Canadian writers. It quickly gained attention for publishing the likes of Margaret Atwood, Matt Cohen, Michael Ondaatje, Erín Moure, Roch Carrier, Marie-Claire Blais, Anne Hébert, George Grant and Northrop Frye. House of Anansi still thrives today, as does the New Press—which focuses on “books that promote and enrich public discussion and understanding of the issues vital to our democracy and to a more equitable world”—and The Porcupine’s Quill, an “artisanal publisher that values the art and craft of the book, both in content and in form.”

More than just a writer and editor, however, Godfrey was at the cutting edge of the cultural side of computer technology, arguing that decentralized data and computer communication were extremely important for art and literature. In 1979, he co-edited (with Douglas Parkhill), Gutenberg Two, focusing on the social and political meaning of computer technology, and co-wrote The Telidon Book (with Ernest Chang), about electronic publishing and video text. He also founded a software development company called Softwords—which eventually grew to a staff of 22 with annual sales of about $1 million.

“Dave helped hold the department together not long after its difficult birth,” recalls former departmental colleague Derk Wynand. “He also played a huge role in bringing us into the 20th—and perhaps 21st—century, with his expertise in computers and business.”

Godfrey working on the  telecommunications research Project Cue,   with Writing co-op students Rhonda Roy & Michael Quinlan. Project Cue promoted electronic communication using the CoSy conferencing system. (OVPR)

Godfrey working on the telecommunications research Project Cue, with Writing co-op students Rhonda Roy & Michael Quinlan. Project Cue promoted electronic communication using the CoSy conferencing system. (OVPR)

“He was ahead of his time,” agrees Crozier. “He was into computers at the start, before any of us dreamed of giving up our pens and booklets, and he insisted that the department get on board. He was also a proponent of the Co-op program because he was that rare thing—a businessman as well as a writer.”

Described by Wynand as “one of the pioneers of UVic’s Co-op Program,” retired Humanities, Fine Arts and Professional Writing Co-op coordinator Don Bailey recalls Godfrey as “the founding chair” of the Writing Co-op. “He was very committed to introducing students with a flair for writing—and some digital competencies—into careers in the communications, publishing, journalism and tech sectors. He was somewhat of a visionary in this regard.”

Godfrey's GG-winning novel The New Ancestors

Godfrey’s GG-winning novel

Noted author and Writing alumnus Richard Van Camp named Godfrey as one of the UVic Writing professors who led his “spiritual adventure” and “nurtured my hunger as a writer.” Together with the likes of Crozier, Hodgins, Patrick Lane, Marilyn Bowering, Bill Valgardson and Stephen Hume, Van Camp notes their collective “dedication to the structure and magic behind a story was contagious. It was at [UVic] that I learned about theme, that sacred thread that binds characters, intent and story together. I also learned about tone and I learned how to tighten dialogue to make it snap with energy. And I learned the hardest lesson of all: Writing is rewriting.”

One of Godfrey’s children, Rebecca Godfrey, is also an award-winning novelist (Torn Skirt) and non-fiction writer (Under the Bridge), as well as a professor of creative writing at Columbia University.

Posting on Godfrey’s Facebook page, ‪former student Judy Keeler recalls him as “a pioneer, a rebel, a genius who reinvented himself and fought for talent.” That’s pretty tough to beat when it comes to an epitaph for a lifelong writer, editor and educator like David Godfrey.

Conrad Alexandrowicz’s new production earns praise


Linda Quibell, Vanessa Goodman and Peter Anderson (Photo: Tim Matheson)

Mother Tongue, the latest stage production by Department of Theatre professor Conrad Alexandrowicz, earned praise and wowed audiences in its debut performance this month.

Conceived, directed, and choreographed by Alexandrowicz with text by recently retired Writing professor Lorna Crozier and Governor General’s Award-winning poet Erin Mouré, Mother Tongue ran May 14-18 at Vancouver’s Scotiabank Dance Centre. Presented by Alexandrowicz’s Wild Excursions, the productionuses a company of six actors and two dancers to explores the poets’ texts. And chalk one up for interdisciplinary mingling—the germ of Mother Tongue came from the 2011 Fine Arts faculty retreat, where Alexandrowicz met Crozier. From that opportunity came a nearly $175,000 SSHRC grant that resulted in the production that Vancouver theatre reviewer Jo Ledingham described as “cerebral . . . and mind-expanding.”

Mother Tongue1

Peter Anderson, Lucas Hall, Sandra Ferens, Brahm Taylor and Linda Quibell (Photo: Tim Matheson)

Georgia Straight reviewer Colin Thomas was also quite taken with the production, noting in one scene that, “Alexandrowicz’s choreography is powerfully simple . . .  the performers sit in two lines of stools and face one another, their arms raised . . . their hands float away: we know we’re in the memory of a destroyed church. In moments like these—and there are more than enough of them to make the evening worthwhile—Alexandrowicz and his company catch the ineffable in their net.”

Thomas also praised Crozier’s text: “[Her] language is so alert and sensual that listening to it feels intimate—even erotic.”

(Photo: Tim Matheson)

(Photo: Tim Matheson)

In his director’s notes, Alexandrowicz explains his inspiration for Mother Tongue: “If dance is a kind of ‘visual poetry’, so poetry is perhaps ‘dancing with language’”—and clearly, he has found success with this form. Describing the director/choreographer as “a big thinker who has gone on to explore and challenge the way language works or fails to work,” Ledingham notes the show has in fact inspired her to return to poetry. “I have all but given up on poetry but I will now seek out Crozier and Moure’s work. And I will try to let linearity go and give searching for ‘meaning’ a rest.”

Ledingham offers a concluding thought: “Alexandrowicz doesn’t let you out of the theatre without a desire to learn, to discover and to explore. Challenging your brain is seldom packaged so gorgeously.”

Fingers crossed for a local production!

Celebrating Lorna Crozier

With a sold-out house, gales of laughter, heartfelt reminiscences, touching readings and a few sincerely dewy-eyed moments, the Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier proved to be a smash success! And, thanks to the nearly 300 people filling the David Lam Auditorium on November 28, the Department of Writing also managed to raise a nice bit of money for the fledgling Lorna Crozier Undergraduate Poetry Scholarship.

It was a full house at the Lorna Crozier event

It was a full house at the Lorna Crozier event

Hilariously hosted by Shelagh Rogers of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, and featuring a stellar lineup of poets—including Jane Urquhart, Brad Cran, Patrick Lane, Carla Funk, Melanie Siebert and Steven Price—the nearly two-and-a-half-hour event kept people alternately in stitches and silence, depending on the emotional tone of the readings . . . and anecdotes. (Alas, planned guests Anne Michaels had to cancel due to illness and Esi Edugyan was called out of town on book business.) Most of the poets read a mix of their favourite Crozier poems as well as some of their own work, much of which was either inspired by or had been critiqued by her as a teacher.

Jane Urquhart

Jane Urquhart

Celebrated author and poet Jane Urquhart set the tone for the evening, mixing personal—and often surprisingly frank—reminiscences of Lorna with her own readings. (Highlights included hearing about the two of them attending a literary event in Paris, which did Lorna’s fashion addiction absolutely no good.) Shelagh Rogers responded in kind with a side-splitting story about Urquhart, Crozier and herself breaking into an artistic director’s home after a reading on the Sunshine Coast to drink gin and tonics. An audience member paid $50 to hear this hilarious and totally impromptu bon mot, and it actually kicked off a cash-for-kooky-Crozier-stories frenzy that ran the entire night and saw about $500 extra raised for the scholarship. (Indeed, Crozier’s husband, Patrick Lane, offered to tell a particularly racy story about her for $100, which Crozier then outbid with another $100 for him not to tell it!)

From top left: Shelagh Rogers, Brad Cran, Carla Funk, Steven Price, Melanie Siebert, Alexandra Pohran Dawkins

From top left: Shelagh Rogers, Brad Cran, Carla Funk, Steven Price, Melanie Siebert, Alexandra Pohran Dawkins

The most memorable readings of the night came from Crozier’s former students—Cran, Price, Siebert and Funk—all of whom attested to her skill in the classroom and importance as a mentor; most of them have since become friends and colleagues, and their memories provided vivid illustrations of how important a professor can be in the lives of emerging artists. A highly emotional Brad Cran even got too choked up to finish his own reading, barely holding back the tears as he recounted his own experience with undiagnosed dyslexia, the difference Crozier made to him as a student, and the struggles his daughter is currently going through with the same thing—and the hope that she too would find such a supportive mentor one day.

Pohran Dawkins performs her musical tribute

Pohran Dawkins performs her musical tribute

Another highlight of the evening was the special performance by School of Music professor Alexandra Pohran Dawkins, who played her own charming and poetic improvisational piece on the English Horn titled, “A Musical Offering—For Lorna.”

Patrick Lane read out a message from Anne Michaels, noting that she was “very sad not to be with you all—only a doctor’s orders would keep me away.” Michaels wrote that she had known Crozier for over 30 years and had spent the past few weeks reading all of her books again, noting “how much love your poems contain, how much humour and quiet strength . . . in their grace, your poems embrace all of life.”

As Crozier's longtime partner, Patrick Lane was uniquely situated to offer, uh, insights

As Crozier’s longtime partner, Patrick Lane was uniquely situated to offer, uh, insights

Lane himself had much to say about his wife—much of it hilarious, much of it touching—before reading one of his poems that was written at a moment of indecision in their relationship. “A Red Bird Bearing On His Back An Empty Cup” silenced the house, and caused many to pause and reflect on their own emotional lives. Lane also mischievously noted the pros and cons of living with another poet: “Every now and then I come up with these phrases and Lorna says, ‘Write that down’ . . . and I do, before she steals it.”

Former City of Victoria Poet Laureate Carla Funk spoke glowingly about Lorna’s teaching legacy,  describing her “faith beyond faith” that a student’s poem would improve, and her ability to “encourage young poets, inspire them to continue, to strive, to grow, to give permission to write about things that were kept in shadows in your family’s history.”

A very moved Lorna Crozier

A very moved Lorna Crozier

By the time recently retired Crozier took the podium to a standing ovation, there was hardly a dry eye in the house. “I didn’t realize so much of the evening would be about me,” said an obviously moved Crozier, noting that “it shouldn’t be so much about me, but about raising money for our future students and aspiring poets.” Crozier also praised her former students, saying how lucky she was to have them in her classes. “Now they are peers, and I use their books as models for what one can write when you get so close to the heart.”

Crozier with Cran, Funk and Dean Blackstone (foreground)

Crozier with Cran, Funk and Dean Blackstone (foreground)

Indeed, many of the featured poets mentioned how they had been recipients of scholarships when they were in school, and how much a difference they can make in the life of a struggling student.  All in all, the evening raised about $6,000 towards the $25,000 needed to make the scholarship self-sustaining. This scholarship will continue to honour the academic life and legacy of the beloved poet now that she has retired from teaching. Please consider a donation to this important fund, which will be awarded annually to a third or fourth year undergraduate poetry student. You can give online simply by clicking this link. 

As Dr. Sarah Blackstone, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, noted at the close of the evening, “UVic has just celebrated our 50th anniversary—imagine, on our 100th anniversary, hearing the difference this scholarship has made to the lives and careers of 50 poets yet to come.”

Thanks go out to event sponsors Tanner’s Books, Marmalade Tart Boutique, Greystone Books, Harbour Publishing, plus UVic’s offices  of the Vice President Aademic & Provost and External Relations, as well as our own Faculty of Fine Arts and Department of Writing.

If you missed it in advance, be sure to check out some of the media coverage the event received: CBC Radio’s All Points West on-air column “Creative Class” which you can hear by clicking here, this short article in the Times Colonist and this piece in The Ring, UVic’s community newspaper.

Join Us For A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier

For over 20 years, Lorna Crozier helped shape the future of Canadian poets and writers as a professor in the Department of Writing. Now, her legacy will live on in the form of the Lorna Crozier Scholarship for undergraduate writing students—and to help kick off the scholarship, a special fundraiser is being held at UVic on November 28. Featuring a veritable who’s-who of national and local literary luminaries, A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier promises to be one of the most memorable events of the fall arts season.

Crozier poster_Oct16Hosted by Shelagh Rogers of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, and featuring famed Canadian writers Anne Michaels (Fugitive Pieces), Jane Urquhart (The Stone Carvers) and Brad Cran (former City of Vancouver Poet Laureate), the evening’s lineup also includes UVic writers Patrick Lane (There Is A Season), Esi Edugyan (Half-Blood Blues), Carla Funk (former City of Victoria Poet Laureate), Melanie Siebert (Deepwater Vee), Steven Price (The Year of the Ox) and a special appearance by School of Music professor Alexandra Pohran Dawkins,who will be performing her own improvisational piece on the English Horn titled, “A Musical Offering—For Lorna.”

Each audience member will also receive a special poem, written for the occasion and signed by Lorna, that will be suitable for framing. Even Crozier herself will be on hand for the event!

(Interesting campus side-note: in additional to the many awards and accolades they have garnered over the years, Anne Michaels received an honourary doctorate from UVic in 2012, and Patrick Lane is receiving one in November just two weeks before the event.)

Lorna Crozier (photo: Gary McKintry)

Lorna Crozier (photo: Gary McKintry)

“Lorna’s a brilliant poet—we all know that—but she truly was a brilliant teacher,” says acting Writing chair Joan MacLeod. “Her legacy is already in our department in some of our amazing teachers—like Carla Funk and Steven Price, who were both students of Lorna’s and have gone on to rich writing and teaching lives. When I visit their classes now, I see Lorna through their approach to the classroom.”

During her time teaching at UVic, Crozier received both the Distinguished Professor designation in 2004 and the Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Artistic Expression in 2010, in addition to being named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2010 and receiving the Order of Canada in 2011—that’s in addition to her many, many other awards.

“I love the idea of the scholarship, just because it’ll be like having a little piece of Lorna still with us,” MacLeod continues. “She was infectious about her love of poetry—we got students into our department because of her name, but she also got students interested in poetry when it wouldn’t have otherwise been on their radar. It’s important to honour not just what she did for our students but what she did for the whole department.”

A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier begins at 7pm Thursday, November 28, in UVic’s David Lam Theatre (MacLaurin Building A144). $20 tickets are available now at the UVic Ticket Centre, with all proceeds (and any additional donations) going to the Lorna Crozier Scholarship fund.

Media roundup for the fall

Once again, it’s been a busy season for Fine Arts coverage in the local media. Here’s a quick roundup of who’s been hitting the headlines.

Josh Lovell as Bardolfo (standing) in POV's Falstaff. (photo: David Cooper)

Josh Lovell as Bardolfo (standing) in POV’s Falstaff. (photo: David Cooper)

The School of Music is always a strong source of stories. In this article, visiting trombonist Abbie Conant spoke to the Times Colonist about her successful efforts to fight sexism in the Munich Orchestra. Meanwhile, the Lafayette String Quartet‘s autumn “Brahms, Bubbly & Brunch” fundraiser appeared on a lovely CHEK TV segment (which, unfortunately, is no longer available online) and the LSQ’s November concert series dedicated to David Jaffe also earned attention in this recent Times Colonist article.

Music undergrad Josh Lovell garnered high praise for his performance in Pacific Opera Victoria’s recent production of Falstaff. As Times Colonist reviewer Kevin Bazzana noted, “tenor Josh Lovell, who plays Bardolfo, is still an undergraduate student, and that is scarcely believable—he seems fully at home among all these distinguished pros.” Bazzana also wrote about Music’s involvement in the Britten Festival of Song, celebrating the centenary of legendary composer Benjamin Britten.

Music professor Christopher Butterfield was also featured in this Monday Magazine article about the Victoria Symphony’s November 10 performance of his piece, Convoy PQ-17. “In Russia they take very seriously the history of the war,” Butterfield told Monday reporter Natalie North, who is also a graduate of our Writing program. “It’s very serious business. Here, this kind of work is more uncommon, to put it mildly. You don’t often go to see large commemorative piece for wartime episodes with dance, chorus and orchestra.”

Over in Writing, professor Lorna Jackson appeared on CBC Radio’s All Points West to speak about Alice Munro’s recent winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Why Jackson? In addition to being a short story specialist herself, she also included Munro in her 2008 book of constructed interviews Flirt: The Interviews (and you can hear Jackson read the Munro story by clicking here). Writing professor and Associate Dean of Fine Arts Lynne Van Luven is always busy, and this time she was called upon to act as one of the judges in the annual Times Colonist “So You Think You Can Write” contest.

Writing alumni have also been busy this fall. Rapidly rising Writing graduate Eliza Robertson was named to the prestigious Writers’ Trust Journey Prize shorlist—earning herself $1,000 and a place in their annual publication. Fellow Writing alum Kayla Czaga and Garth Martens were both longlisted for CBC Poetry Prize—Martens twice!—alongside former instructor Pamela Porter; Porter ended up being a finalist.

Thelma Fayle in Focus magazine

Thelma Fayle in Focus magazine

Meanwhile, Writing alum Thelma Fayle garnered widespread media coverage for her new book on iconic photojournalist Ted Grant: appearing in the Times Colonist, speaking with Grant on CFAX Radio’s weekly Eye on the Arts show (from 33:50 to 58:00), as well as being interviewed in Monday Magazine and in the November issue of Focus magazine (scroll to pages 48-51). Why write a book about Grant? “Ted is the kind of person who would say ‘I just knew it was a good picture’ and not be aware of its significance,” she tells Focus. “I want Canadians to really know him. Everyone I interviewed said basically the same thing: ‘You have no idea how special this man is.’”

Recent MFA graduate Portia Elan is featured in “Writing Lessons” on the Ploughshares Literary Magazine blog. “Writing Lessons” features essays by writing students—and now writing instructors—about lessons learned, epiphanies about craft, and the challenges of studying writing. “My advisor told me during my second year that when he saw what I’d turned in for workshop first year, he’d been stunned and disappointed,” she writes. “Getting out of workshop saved my writing. The things that crack our writing open and give them new voice, new body, take experimentation and patience. It is often not until the tenth or twentieth poem-in-a-new-voice that I write anything worth keeping.”

That's Lorna Crozier & partner Patrick Lane at the Victoria Butler Book Prize gala

That’s Lorna Crozier & partner Patrick Lane at the Victoria Butler Book Prize gala

Writing professors Lorna Crozier and Bill Gaston were both named finalists in October’s City of Victoria Butler Book Prize—with the recently retired Crozier speaking to CBC Radio’s All Points West in this interview about being nominated.

Crozier also recently wrote a great self-explanatory travel piece titled “A Poet in the Great Bear Rainforest” for the online magazine Toque and Canoe—produced in collaboration with noted conservation photographer Ian McAllister.

(In typical Crozier fashion, she writes, “The big grizzly is perched on the other side of the river bank, so near he can hear the rain on my jacket. He raises his blunt head and courses the air. Stares at me and sniffs. Above the stench of rotting salmon, my smell has been drawn into a grizzly’s nostrils, through the nasal passages inside his long snout. Part of me now lives inside the mind of an omnivorous animal whose Latin name ends with horribilis.”)

Also, Writing professor Maureen Bradley appeared in this Monday Magazine article—alongside Fine Arts digital media staffer Dan Hogg—discussing their involvement with Telefilm Canada’s Micro-Budget Production program, which allows local filmmakers to apply for up to $120,000 toward a film project. Bradley benefited from the program to help finance her current transgender romantic comedy feature film Two 4 One (which you can help support via her Indiegogo campaign), which will be shooting in Victoria in early 2014. Hogg, a very active local filmmaker and screenwriter himself (regular readers will recall his involvement with the short film Floodplain, which took him to the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year), is also CineVic’s current president.

From Focus magazine's article

From Focus magazine’s article

Over in Visual Arts, new Audain professor and Visual Arts alumnus Jackson 2Bears was written up in UVic’s Ring newspaper. There was also a short preview of the continuing faculty exhibition Paradox on CTV VI, which runs through to January 12 at the recently renamed Legacy Art Galleries Downtown. Painting professor Sandra Meigs earned some great coverage for her solo exhibition The Basement Panoramas, running at Open Space until December 14. Read the extensive Focus magazine profile (flip to page 44), see the Times Colonist article by local arts writer Amy Smart, and read how a number of local and campus artists reacted to the show in this piece from Kate Cino’s ArtOpenings website.

Finally, Phoenix Theatre’s recent Spotlight on Alumni production of Kitt & Jane: An Interactive Survival Guide to the Near Post-Apocolyptic Future.

Ingrid Hansen in Kitt & Jane (photo: Jam Hamidi)

Ingrid Hansen in Kitt & Jane (photo: Jam Hamidi)

“Kitt and Jane’s genius lies in the ability of the creators to craft a story that has simultaneously tapped into young people’s concern and anxiety about the state of the world while reminding their elders of a simpler more playful time,” wrote local arts blogger
Janis La Couvée.

Meanwhile, The Marble theatre review blog encouraged people to “Go see Kitt & Jane. The story of two 14-year-olds prepping an audience for the apocalypse is immensely enjoyable, theatrical and funny. It’s also a whole bunch of other superfluous adjectives I could assign, all of which would be true and complimentary, but would just take up valuable time you could be using to go down to the box office and buy a ticket.”

CBC Victoria’s On the Island reviewer Monica Prendergast praised Phoenix alumni Ingrid Hansen for her characteristically “simple yet effective theatricality . . . . Just using a flashlight on a screen behind the two actors creating amazing effects . . . at one point she does an entire shadow puppet show with the most simple of props which is really theatre that I love. You don’t need a huge, huge budget.” Hear her full review here (from the 0:00 to 5:00 mark).

Even the Times Colonist‘s Adrian Chamberlain noted in his review how Hansen and fellow Phoenix alum and show co-creator Kathleen Greenfield “opted to sidestep some of the conventions of theatre. Similar to alt-rock/folk bands that use dollar-store instruments and record albums that sound like bootlegs, the notion is to create a show that’s fresh and unfettered by theatre’s formal constructs.” Chamberlain also highlighted the “clever shadow projections” and songs—”including one about children’s rights activist Craig Kielburger and Taliban-defier Malala Yousafzai, accompanied by ukulele and glockenspiel.”

You can also hear this podcast of the pre-show lecture by Phoenix grad and UVic’s University Centre Auditorium Director Ian Case on “Theatre, Creativity and Paying the Bills in Victoria”

Fall events in Fine Arts: November

It’s another busy month for Fine Arts events, with a pair of exclusive gallery exhibitions, as well as a full lineup of readings, concerts, visiting artists, the first Phoenix Theatre mainstage production of the 2013-14 season and a special gala literary celebration in honour of Lorna Crozier. Read on to find out what’s going on!

Daniel Laskarin's "blue chair :: if this"

Daniel Laskarin’s “blue chair :: if this”

• The notion of paradox provides an apt means of curating an exhibit by seven divergent artists—thus the title of the Department of Visual Arts group exhibit, Paradox, which continues through to January 12 at UVic’s Legacy Art Galleries Downtown.

It has been nearly 35 years since UVic’s Legacy Art Galleries curated a Visual Arts faculty exhibition. Paradox aims to bring wider understanding to the particular strengths of this nationally acclaimed academic program, which is rooted in explorations of phenomenology and in the perceptual, conceptual, and interactive contexts of contemporary visual art. It also comes on the heels of the recent Department of Visual Arts retrospective exhibit, Core Samples.

As Dr. Sarah Blackstone, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, notes in her introduction to the Paradox exhibit catalogue, “The department [of Visual Arts] has a long-standing reputation for training generations of successful Canadian visual artists . . . . Students are inspired by the accomplishments and investigations of their teachers, and faculty are inspired by the fresh ideas and questions of their students.”

You can read more about the Paradox exhibit in this separate post.

Meigs_Open Space• Also in the galleries this month is a rare local solo exhibit by Visual Arts faculty member Sandra Meigs: The Basement Panoramas. In this exhibit, Meigs studies the invisible foundations of buildings—basements and crawl spaces—and these forgotten, often neglected areas, become familiar again in Meigs’ exciting new works. “Basement spaces often hold that which we do not want to let go of and are also the foundation of the house, analogous to the psyche,” says Meigs. Many of the pieces in the exhibit relate to the idea of transformation.

The Basement Panoramas runs from November 1 to December 14 at Open Space.

• The next concert by the UVic Orchestra is Harmonious Saints. Ajtony Csaba conducts a program of Bach, Handel, Biber, Gabrieli and Tchaikovsky, with special guest soloist and UVic student Joshua Lovell—winner of the UVic Concerto Competition and fresh off his well-reviewed performance in Pacific Opera Victoria’s Falstaff.

Harmonious Saints begins at 8pm Friday, November 1 at Farquhar Auditorium. Tickets are $13.50 & $17.50 at the UVic Ticket Centre.

Ian Johnston copy• The Department of Visual Arts welcomes Nelson-based sculptor Ian Johnston as the latest in their ongoing Visiting Artist series. An architect turned sculptor, since the mid-’90s Johnston has been pursuing an interest in ceramics and, more recently, large-scale installations that often include ceramic. Prior to opening his Nelson studio in 1996 he spent five years working at the Bauhaus Academy in post-Berlin Wall East Germany, where he developed and facilitated a series of workshops around themes of urban renewal and public intervention in a tumultuous time of cultural transformation. His recent body of work Refuse Culture: Archaeology of Consumption examines our relationship with the environment in a series of installations using ceramic and mixed media appealing to multiple senses of the viewer.

Ian Johnston will speak and show slides of his work starting at 8pm Wednesday, November 6, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building.

• The music of versatile American composer David A. Jaffe is celebrated this month with a trio of events: a lecture by Jaffe himself, a Guitarworks concert, and a special musical event featuring School of Music artists Andy Schloss, Scott MacInnes and the Lafayette String Quartet, as well as past School of Music collaborator Trimpin, plus other guests. (Trimpin was most recently involved with the (CanonX+4:33=100) collaboration between Music and Open Space.)

David Jaffe (right) with Andy Schloss

David Jaffe (right) with Andy Schloss

Jaffe’s compositions range from acoustic to electronic, and the concert will encompass a broad spectrum of his output—from the old time fiddle-inspired Cluck Old Hen Variations to the Canadian premiere of The Space Between Us for radio drum, two string quartets, piano, and robotic percussion. Also in this concert, the Lafayette String Quartet will present the world premiere of the newly commissioned string quartet Fox Hollow.

The Orion Series in Fine Arts presents a lecture by David A. Jaffe at 8pm Wednesday, November 6, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. The Music of David A. Jaffe begins at 8pm Friday, November 8, also at Open Space. Admission is $10 or $15. And the UVic Faculty Concert Series: Guitarworks features the School of Music’s Alexander Dunn with Jaffe and guests, at 8pm Saturday, November 9, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall.

Larry Groupe• Three-time Emmy nominee and twice-winning composer Larry Groupé will visit UVic to present a lecture titled “Film Music: An in depth look and discussion on the current state of composing in Hollywood today.” Groupé will discuss his feature film and TV projects, and his latest award-winning score for the remake of Straw Dogs for Sony pictures. As a working Hollywood composer Groupé brings to light all the requirements—be they technical, creative, and political—to be a successful film and television composer today. Presented in colaboration with the UVic School of Music, Victoria Conservatory of Music, and the Computer Music Course Union.

Hear Larry Groupé speak at 3:30pm Thursday, November 7 in MacLaurin A169—for free.

Campus Confidential• Wonder what really goes on behind the romantic scenes on campus? Join the Department of Writing for the launch of Campus Confidential, a new collection of creative nonfiction tales by UVic writers exploring the intricacies of relationships . . . by degrees. Inspired by the popular New York Times column “Modern Love,” the new book features 13 student and alumni writers, including work by City of Victoria Butler Book Prize winner and finalist—and current Writing instructor and graduate student (respectively)—Frances Backhouse and JoAnn Dionne, collection editor Liz Snell, and Fine Arts communications officer, Writing instructor [and author of this blog] John Threlfall.

Research for Campus Confidential was funded in part by the Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award, and the book was produced on the UVic Bookstore’s new Espresso book machine—which will also be in operation at the reading and launch.

Campus Confidential kicks off at 7pm Thursday, November 7, in the UVIc Bookstore—and it’s free. (But the books are not.)

FB-Coverpage-SKOOT_x972Phoenix Theatre presents their first mainstage production of the 2013-14 season, The Skin of Our Teeth. Directed by veteran Phoenix professor Linda Hardy, this 1943 Pulitzer Prize-winning satire from Thornton Wilder (the author of Our Town) takes us on a wild and raucous tour through the ages.

Enter New Jersey suburbia: home of the perfect middle class family, George, his wife Maggie, their children Gladys and Henry (previously known as Cain?), and their pet dinosaurs. George is the inventor of the alphabet, the wheel, and the multiplication tables – he’s the pick of the human race! But can the family survive the ravages of ice ages, global warming, storms, floods, depressions and war? Revolutionary when first written, The Skin of Our Teeth remains absurdly funny, very profound, and is absolutely a play for our time.

The Skin of Our Teeth runs November 7-23 in the Phoenix Theatre. Click here for ticket info.

• The UVic Jazz Orchestra, under the jazzy baton of Anita Bonkowski, will be performing at 8pm Friday, November 8 in the Phillip T Young Recital Hall. Tickets $10 & $15 at UVic Ticket Centre.

PQ17• A fitting work for the Remembrance Day period, School of Music professor Christopher Butterfield’s Convoy PQ-17 commemorates the tragic near-destruction of an Allied convoy by German forces in July 1942. This sensational requiem features the renowned dance troupe Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, the Victoria Philharmonic Choir, a stunning set and is conducted by Victoria Symphony Maestra Tania Miller.

Convoy PQ-17 with the Victoria Symphony begins at 2:30pm Sunday, November 10 in UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium. Click here for ticket information.

Denniston copy• The second Visiting Artist for Visual Arts this month is Toronto-based photographer Stan Denniston. Born in Victoria, Denniston’s considerable body of work reflects a consistent
commitment to the photographic medium—though one would never find a stand-alone
photograph. Instead, Denniston has cultivated several series of works that employ the
photographic image as a component, either to be paired with another image or
accompanied by text. His work revolves around the themes of travel, memory and
representation and has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Biennale de Montréal as well as in France, the Netherlands and Frankfurt.

Stan Denniston speaks at 8pm Wednesday, November 20, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building—and it’s free and open to the public.

Carmen Aguirre copy• Vancouver-based actor, writer and playwright Carmen Aguirre is the latest author to appear at the long-running Department of Writing / Open Space collaborative series, Open Word: Readings and Ideas. Her 2011 book Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter recounted her childhood experiences regularly moving around with her parents who were part of the Chilean Resistance against Augusto Pinochet. Something Fierce was also the winner of the 2012 edition of CBC Radio’s Canada Reads competition. Aguirre has also written over 20 stage plays to date, including her most recent, Blue Box. Her Open Space reading will be followed by a live interview with Writing professor and award-winning playwright Kevin Kerr.

Open Word with Carmen Aguirre begins 7:30 pm Wednesday, November 20, at Open Space, 510 Fort Street. By donation. She will also appear on campus, 8:50am Thursday, November 21, in room A240 of the Human & Social Development Building. Free.

Melting Away• Wednesday, November 20, is also the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and Writing professor and filmmaker Maureen Bradley has been invited to speak before the screening of the film Melting Away at Cinecenta, presented by UVic’s own Transgender Archives. Bradley is an apt speaker for this event, given that her own transgender romantic comedy Two 4 One is currently in pre-production for shooting in Victoria in early 2014. Bradley is also seeking financial support for the project via an Indiegogo campaign which has already raised over $13,000 of the needed $20,000—click here to donate to her project and help her film become a reality. You can also find out the backstory to this, her first feature film by reading about her winning the Jim Murphy Filmmakers Bursary, and about her being one of the winning teams for the NSI Features First initiative. You can also read more about Bradley and the Department of Writing’s filmmaking program in this recent article in UVic’s alumni Torch magazine (see pages 30-33).

sheila-heti copy• Acclaimed Canadian writer, editor and occasional actor Sheila Heti will be visiting UVic as our latest Orion Lecturer this month. An author who is never easily pigeon-holed, Heti’s fourth book—How Should A Person Be?—was described as being “part literary novel, part self-help manual and part bawdy confessional” and was chosen as one of the 100 Best Books of 2012 by The New York Times. Audiences are never quite sure what they’ll get at an evening with Heti, but it’s always bound to be memorable.

Sheila Heti speaks at 7pm Wednesday, November 27,  in room 103 of the Fine Arts building. It’s free and open to the public.

• Finally, one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the fall literary celebration occurs near the end of the month: A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier, featuring a veritable who’s-who of national and local literary figures.

Lorna Crozier (Gary McInstry)

Lorna Crozier (Gary McInstry)

For over 20 years, Lorna Crozier helped shape the future of Canadian poets and writers as a professor in the Department of Writing. Now you can help us continue Lorna’s legacy by creating a scholarship in the name of this multiple award-winning and much-loved poet and writer. Join host Shelagh Rogers of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter at this special literary event featuring famed Canadian writers Anne Michaels (Fugitive Pieces), Jane Urquhart (The Stone Carvers) and Brad Cran (former City of Vancouver Poet Laureate) plus UVic writers Patrick Lane (There Is A Season), Esi Edugyan (Half-Blood Blues), Carla Funk (former City of Victoria Poet Laureate), Melanie Siebert (Deepwater Vee), Steven Price (The Year of the Ox) and other special guests . . . including Lorna herself!

Each audience member will also receive a special poem, written for the occasion and signed by Lorna, that will be suitable for framing.

As acting Writing chair Joan MacLeod says, “Lorna’s a brilliant poet, we all know that, but she truly was a brilliant teacher. Her legacy is already in our department in some of our amazing teachers—like Carla Funk and Steven Price, who were both students of Lorna’s and have gone on to rich writing and teaching lives. When I visit their classes now, I see Lorna through their approach to the classroom. I love the idea of the scholarship, just because it’ll be like having a little piece of Lorna still with us. And it’ll be fantastic for our students. It’s important to honour not just what she did for our students but what she did for the whole department.”

A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier begins at 7pm Thursday, November 28, in UVic’s David Lam Theatre (MacLaurin Building A144). $20 tickets are available now with all proceeds—and any additional donations—going to the Lorna Crozier Scholarship fund.

Fine Arts @ the edge of Congress 2013

Unrivaled in scope and impact, the annual Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities—known simply as “Congress”—is now (amazingly) in its 82nd year. This flagship event is much more than Canada’s largest gathering of scholars across disciplines. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress brings together academics, researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners to share findings, refine ideas, and build partnerships that will help shape the Canada of tomorrow.

Crisp-Congress2013-web-welcomeRunning June 1 to 8 at UVic this year, Congress will host nearly 70 scholarly association meetings and attract an average of 6,000 attendees over the week. Developed in partnership with a different host university each year, Congress programming is open to attendees, academics and non-academic audiences. From theatre research, literature studies and education to history, sociology and communications, Congress represents a unique showcase of scholarly excellence, creativity, and leadership. The theme for Congress 2013 is @ the edge. (Next year, it will move to Brock University, and will be held at the University of Ottawa in 2015.) For complete details, see this schedule of meetings for Congress 2013.

But while much of the programming if specific to delegates, there are a number of lectures, workshops, entertainment and special events that are open to the campus community and the general public. Be sure to visit the Congress website for complete event details.

Within the Faculty of Fine Arts, various departments are hosting association meetings—such as the Department of Theatre, who are welcoming the Canadian Association of Theatre Researchers/ Association canadienne de la recherche théâtrale conference, and the School of Music, who are hosting the Canadian University Music Society—but there are also a number of our faculty who are involved with various public presentations and events. Here’s a quick list of where you can check out the Fine Arts presence at Congress 2013. 

stringsGroupThe free gala concert kicking off the Canadian University Music Society conference at the School of Music on Thursday, June 6, at 7:30pm is now open to the public. The concert features performance faculty including Lou Ranger, Eugene Dowling, Michelle Mares, Anne Grimm, Susan Young, Harald Krebs, Arthur Rowe, and members of the Lafayette String Quartet. The program will include Gary Kulesha’s Sonata for Trumpet, Tuba & Piano, Julius Otto Grimm’s Ach, es sitzt mein Lieb und weint & Der Traum, Johannes Brahms’ Es träumte mir & Ständchen, Robert Schumann’s Schön Blümelein & Die Schwalben, Eugene Weigel’s Quartet Search, and Brahms’ Quintet for Piano and Strings.

As well, the CUMS concert at 8pm on Friday, June 7, is also free and now open to the public. This concert will feature School of Music faculty and alumni, performing a program of works by the winners of the CUMS 2013 Student Composition Competition—the School of Music’s own Robert Hansler and University of Alberta student André Mestre. Also on the program are works by Stefen Maier, Daniel Brandes, Tawnie Olson, and Jacques Hétu.

Paul Walde (photo: Times Colonist)

Paul Walde (photo: Times Colonist)

The Now Art faculty exhibit celebrates the contemporary work and wisdom of UVic’s Department of Visual Arts. Featuring the work of Vikky Alexander, Lynda Gammon, Daniel Laskarin, Sandra Meigs, Jennifer Stillwell, Paul Walde and Robert Youds, Now Art is a rare opportunity to see a group exhibit of dynamic contemporary art by some of Canada’s leading contemporary artists.

From sculpture and photography to painting, sound works, light works and drawing, our faculty members exhibit worldwide and are among the top contemporary Canadian artists, with work in the National Gallery of Canada’s permanent collection and representation by some of Canada’s leading galleries. Visitors will also have the opportunity to tour the Visual Arts building. Be sure to read this Times Colonist interview with both Walde and Meigs, and listen to this CBC Radio interview.

Now Art runs 10am to 5pm Saturday, June 1 to Saturday, June 8 throughout the Visual Arts building. There’s also a public reception from 5 to 8pm Wednesday, June 5.

The Department of Theatre is proud to host the annual Canadian Association of Theatre Researchers conference, running from June 1-4. While much of the CATR/ACRT conference is closed, the following free sessions and events are open to the public:

Mary Kerr's design for Copper Thunderbird

Mary Kerr’s design for Copper Thunderbird

• “A Creator’s Guide to The Unknown” with Marie Clements (9 to 10:30am, Saturday, June 1, in the Phoenix’s Dan George Theatre). An award-winning performer, playwright, director, screenwriter and producer, Marie Clements launches the conference with her keynote address on “A Creator’s Guide to The Unknown”. Her 12 plays, including Copper Thunderbird (featuring a stunning design by Department of Theatre’s own Mary Kerr), Burning Vision, The Edward Curtis Project and The Unnatural and Accidental Women, have been presented on some of the most prestigious Canadian and international stages.

Conrad Alexandrowicz

Conrad Alexandrowicz

“The Poet’s Dream” performance created by assistant Theatre professor Conrad Alexandrowicz (5:45 to 6:45pm Saturday, June 1, in the Phoenix’s Roger Bishop Theatre). Based on the poetry of Lorna Crozier, the much-lauded Canadian poet and recently retired Department of Writing professor, and collaborating with Alexandra Pohran Dawkins, head of woodwinds at UVic’s School of Music, Alexandrowicz has explored poetry as the textual point of departure in the generation of physical theatre. (You can read the backstory to the piece on this earlier blog post.) The poems evoke wonder in the face of life’s creations and grief at their passing. This workshop features recent grads Mollison Farmer, Alex Frankson, Véronique  Piercy and Kale Penny, with Chris Mackie and Theatre professor Jan Wood, plus dancers Brandy Baybutt and Jung-Ah Chung, and musicians Keenan Mittag-Degala and Sarah Tradewell, with lighting by current Theatre student Freya Engma. Developed through the generous support of SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council).

“Embodying This Place: An Eco-Dramatic Experiential Exploration . . . Outdoors” with Bronwyn Preece (4 to 5:30pm Sunday, June 2, in Finnerty Gardens, but meet in the lobby of Phoenix Building). Through drama, poetry and storytelling, this collective experiential workshop will attempt to embody and express UVic’s Finnerty Gardens. The workshop, drawing from the emerging field of Theatre/Performance/Ecology Studies, encourages partner and group participation to explore the garden’s “land/buildingscape” through touch, sound and smell and to consider new ways of interacting with the space. This site-specific workshop will be held outdoors and is open to everyone and all mobility levels. No previous theatre experience required.

“Step by Step: Walking, Reconciliation & Indigenous Performances of Sovereignty” with Helen Gilbert (9 to 10:30am Monday, June 3, in the Phoenix’s Dan George Theatre).  Acclaimed Australian theatre academic Helen Gilbert is recognized internationally for her cross-cultural theatre research. A professor of theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London, she is the co-convener of its interdisciplinary Postcolonial Research Group. She has published widely in theatre and performance as well as in postcolonial studies and has recently co-written a book on orangutans, race and the species boundary. Her primary research is now focused on an interdisciplinary and multinational team-based project examining Indigeneity and Contemporary Performance.

Juliana Saxton

Juliana Saxton

“Plus ça Change” with Department of Theatre professor emeritus Juliana Saxton (9 to 10:30am Tuesday, June 4, in the Phoenix’s Dan George Theatre). Juliana Saxton is an international master teacher, keynote speaker and co-author of a number of texts, most recently, Applied Drama: A Facilitator’s Handbook for Working in Community (Intellect, 2013). A lifetime in theatre is context for an idiosyncratic overview of “What’s up now?”

There are also a few events beyond Fine Arts where faculty members will be participating.

Lynne Van Luven

Lynne Van Luven

Writing our world: A panel discussion about life writing (2 to 3pm Saturday, June 1 at the Expo Event Space in the McKinnon Building). Join Acting Dean of Fine Arts and Department of Writing professor Lynne Van Luven for a panel discussion about life writing with Aaron Shepard, Andrea Paquette, and Julian Gunn. These writers have covered topics such as mental illness, gender issues, body image, and the traditional role of family, and show how life writing and the personal essay can examine parts of our existence in an immediate and influential way.

Attention, Poetry, Politics: Poetry Reading (7:30-9pm Tuesday, June 4 in Room 104 of the Fine Arts Building). Enjoy an evening of poetry readings by Department of Writing professor Tim
 Lilburn plus fellow poets Jan Zwicky, Sue Sinclair, Warren Heiti and Lucy Alford.

Sam Dunn

Sam Dunn

South of Heaven: Religion & Heavy Metal (7pm Friday, June 7 at Cinecenta, 1 to 6pm 
Saturday, June 8 in Room 103 of the Fine Arts Building). A two-day multi-media exploration of the relationship between heavy metal music and religion around the world, South of Heaven kicks off Friday night with a screening of the iconic Canadian documentary Global Metal, followed by a Q&A with director (and UVic Anthropology alumnus) Sam Dunn, hosted by Fine Arts communications honcho John Threlfall. Saturday afternoon, the public is invited to a free symposium by visiting scholars on the relationship of metal to religious movements and religious identity in diverse global contexts. The event finale is a live all-ages concert at Vertigo in the UVic Student Union Building with metal bands from Victoria and the Lower Mainland.

Threlfall will also be emceeing some of the performances on the Celebration Stage in the Quad, which runs from Sunday, June 2, through to Friday, June 7—and all performances are free and open to the public. See the complete schedule here.

Fine Arts will be represented on the stage by the likes of Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane at the Writing @ the Edge event, from 11:45am to 1:45pm on Tuesday, June 4. Hosted by UVic’s own Malahat Review, there will also be readings by Yvonne Blomer, Jeremy Loveday, Arleen Pare and Philip Kevin Paul, plus musical performances by School of Music string students.

McDougallCTV1Also, School of Music professor emeritus Ian McDougall will be performing on the Celebration Stage from 12:30-1pm on Wednesday, June 5. (Don’t forget to pick up a copy of his $20 Fine Arts benefit CD, The Very Thought of You.) And School of Music instructor Coleen Eccleston will be performing from 1:15 to 1:45pm on Thursday, June 6, followed by Music alum Daniel Lapp and the BC Fiddle Orchestra at 6:30pm.

Finally, History in Art faculty and students are offering the exhibit Creating Con[Text] at downtown’s Legacy Art Gallery (10am to 4pm daily from Wednesday, June 5 to Saturday, June 8 at 630 Yates Street). Creating Con[Text] brings to life the works of art in the UVic’s Michael Williams Bequest Collection through the oral history research of Carolyn Butler Palmer and her graduate students. Dr. Butler Palmer and her students have gathered an extensive array of interviews with people associated with the late businessman and art supporter, Michael Collard Williams, and the artists he collected. Featuring paintings by Angela Grossman, Jack Shadbolt and Emily Carr, the exhibition allows the stories of artists, dealers, and collectors to impart greater meaning to these works of art.

Recent awards roundup

History in Art professor Marcus Milwright‘s recent win of the 2013 Craigdarroch Silver Medal for Excellence in Research isn’t the only award-winning news in the Faculty of Fine Arts of late.

Lorna Crozier (Gary McInstry)

Lorna Crozier (Gary McInstry)

Recently retired long-time Writing professor Lorna Crozier—a multiple award-winning poet (including her own Craigdarroch award) and former chair of the Writing department—was just named the co-winner of the 2013 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence. The award was established in 2003 to recognize B.C. writers who have contributed to the development of literary excellence in the province. Lieutenant Governor Judith Guicho presented the award to Crozier as part of the B.C. Book Prizes gala at Government House on May 4; she shares the award with young adult author Sarah Ellis.

As the jury noted, “The committee for the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence quickly agreed that among many strong candidates, two were outstanding—and, as quickly agreed, there were no grounds to choose between these two most deserving giants in their field. Both are prolific, both are recipients of numerous awards, both are passionate advocates for their literary genre and for Canadian writing, both are internationally recognized, both tirelessly mentor their literary children, and both bring the strength of oral tradition to their writing. … Both bring the highest honour to the Lieutentant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.”

Gaston_Q&Q That same event saw Bill Gaston—the current chair of the Writing department—win the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for his latest novel, The World. (Ironically, former student and Writing alumni Yasuko Thanh was also nominated in the same category as Gaston for her acclaimed short story collection, Floating Like The Dead.) Gaston was previously nominated for the Ethel Wilson Prize for his 2006 short story collection Gargoyles, which earned him a nomination for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. (Hmm, could a 2013 GG nom be in the cards for The World?)

And in other Yasuko Thanh news, Floating Like the Dead has also been named one of five finalists (out of 29 submissions) in the 2013 Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Now in its 16th year, the $10,000 Danuta Gleed is administered by the Writers’ Union of Canada and recognizes the best first English-language collection of short fiction by a Canadian author. This year’s jury includes authors Alexander MacLeod, Carol Malyon and our own Bill Gaston. And busy Writing alum Eliza Robertson recently won the Canadian/European regional prize for the prestigious Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She’ll now compete with the other regional prize winners (Africa, Asia, Caribbean and the Pacific region) for the overall prize, which will be announced May 31. Go Eliza!

Mark Reid with Shania Twain (Photo: AEG Live)

Mark Reid with Shania Twain (Photo: AEG Live)

Meanwhile, over in the School of Music, alumnus Mark Reid has been named Teacher of the Year by MusiCounts, the music-education charity associated with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS). The award, one of the highest honors in Canadian Music, was presented to Reid by country music superstar Shania Twain at a private ceremony in Las Vegas. Reid also received $10,000, which he will put toward his post-graduate studies; he is currently pursuing a master’s degree from Chicago’s Vandercook College to add to his Bachelor’s degree in music education from UVic. Reid has been teaching at Vancouver Technical Secondary School for the past seven years, and those students will receive an additional $10,000 in instrument inventory as part of the CARAS award.

In other Music news, the Canadian University Music Society (CUMS) announced that recent UVic Master’s graduate, Robert Hansler, is one of the recipients of their 2013 Student Composer Competition. He has worked primarily with Dániel Péter Biró and John Celona in the pursuit of his Master’s degree in composition. The jury selected his “Broken Branch” as one of two outstanding pieces to share first prize; both pieces will be performed by School of Music faculty members as part of a concert of contemporary music to be presented on Friday, June 7 at the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall.

 And fourth-year School of Music student Lynne Penhale recently had the opportunity to attend the 19th Young Composers Meeting in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. The meeting, chaired by iconic Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, offers a select group of 14 emerging composers from around the world the opportunity to exchange ideas about contemporary music. “It was the most enriching experience of my life!” says Panhale. “I learned more about society, myself and music in an experience which seemed to have lasted three weeks but was really only one.” Each composer came prepared with a three-minute piece composed for the 23-instrument ensemble-in-residence, Orkest de Ereprijs. Participants engaged in rehearsals, lectures, and lessons with composers Martijn Padding, Richard Ayers, Dmitri Kourliandski, Carola Bauckholt, and Ted Hearne. “As intense a learning experience this was . . . my favourite learning experience was getting to engage with the other young composers, and being completely inspired and challenged by everyone’s individual strengths they had brought with them,” says Penhale, who thanks UVic’s School of Music for supporting her in this opportunity.

In other student award news, recent Visual Arts BFA graduate Bronwyn McMillin received the 2013 Royal Canadian Academy of Arts C.D. Howe Scholarship for Art and Design as part of the BFA graduation exhibit Work. The Howe Scholarship is awarded annually to allow the recipient the opportunity “to pursue further formal study in a discipline represented by the RCA membership. These opportunities in Canada or elsewhere should enable recipients to develop further their studio practices while gaining a deeper understanding of the historical precedents and contemporary issues relevant to their discipline.” Fellow BFA graduates Carson Wronko, Emma Palm and Won Seok Seo also received the Visual Arts Achievement Award, funded by the office of the VP Academic and Provost, Dr. Reeta Tremblay.

Recent Visual Arts grad and aboriginal artist Kelli Clifton has won the YVR Art Foundation Scholarship Award. She will be given one year to complete a work that will then be on display at the Vancouver International Airport. Founded in 1993 by the Vancouver Airport Authority, the YVRAF fosters the development of BC First Nations art by providing scholarships and awards to artists wishing to develop their artistic potential.

CNA winners Bhandar & Annand

CNA winners Bhandar & Annand

Busy Writing MFA student Connor Gaston has been nominated for a Leo Award in the “Best Student Film” category for his TIFF & VFF screened short film, Bardo Light. Two other Writing students—Lukas Bhandar and Vanessa Annand—were both named winners of the 2013 Community Journalism Scholarships, courtesy of the Community Newspapers Association. Also among the winners at the recent BCYCNA Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards were Writing alumni Nathalie North of the Saanich News (First Place, Arts & Culture Award) and Monday Magazine‘s Danielle Pope (First Place, Business Writing Award; Second Place, Environmental Writing Award).

Finally, current Writing student Vin Fielding has been awarded honourable mention in the short fiction category of The Fiddlehead‘s annual literary contest. His story, “All Bones Recovered,” appears in their current issue. It was originally workshopped in Writing instructor Matthew Hooton’s class, and Hooton describes it as “gorgeous writing, and one of the most arresting opening scenes I’ve encountered. I still think about it nine months after first reading it.”

Congratulations to all!

—With files from Kristy Farkas

Words on the street

Three notable literary efforts of note coming up in the next week, courtesy of some of our mighty fine Fine Arts writers, plus one snazzy event near the end of the month.

TheValley First up is The Valley, the latest play by Department of Writing professor and Siminovitch Prize-winning playwright Joan MacLeod. Previously known as What To Expect, MacLeod’s latest play kicks off the 27th annual Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays at Alberta Theatre Projects. The Valley is a fictional story about a troubled teenager who has a confrontation with a police officer on the SkyTrain in Vancouver, which reverberates throughout the community, sweeping both families up into a storm of emotion, opinion and conflict.

The idea for The Valley came from the case of Robert Dziekanski, who died after being hit by RCMP with a Taser at Vancouver Airport in 2007. “One of Joan’s great specialties is responding to something in the headlines”, says Vicki Stroich, interim artistic director for Alberta Theatre Projects. (CBC Calgary chose it as one of their top three picks of the week here—the part about MacLeod begins around 2:32.) As humane, thought-provoking and relevant as her other plays like Another Home Invasion and The Shape of A Girl, MacLeod continues to earn the Toronto Star‘s description of her as “one of the most important playwrights working in Canada today.”

The Valley runs March 6 – April 7 at Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects. Alas, there is no local date as of this posting.
Jan Wood

Jan Wood

 Next up on March 11 is a new play reading by Department of Theatre prof Jan Wood, who will be presenting a staged reading of her new work Sacrifices as part of the Belfry’s SPARK Festival. Here’s the official description of Sacrifices: “Each person makes allowances and negotiates compromises in order to exist…but at what cost? Sacrifices examines the choices that an ordinary woman makes to balance career, family and self-fulfillment. In revealing her story, Medina exposes the tiny sacrifices that have led her to commit her ultimate sacrifice, an act universally condemned and abhorred. Part myth, part mystery, Sacrifices tells of a struggle for personal fulfillment in a world where a thin veneer can separate sanity and madness.”

Sacrifices will be read by Wood and noted director and playwright James Fagan Tait (The Life Inside) at 7pm Monday, March 11 at the Belfry—for free!

Jessica Kluthe

Jessica Kluthe

 After that comes a UVic double-bill on March 12, with Lorna Crozier and Department of Writing alum Jessica Kluthe will be discussing the importance of place in stories as part of the popular reading series At The Mic. Crozier will likely be reading from her latest, The Book of Marvels, but Kluthe is launching her first book, Rosina the Midwife. Described as a “lyrical memoir,” Kluthe is writing about her great-great-grandmother Rosina, a Calabrian midwife who was the only member of the Russo family to remain in Italy while her kin left in search of work. Between 1870 and 1970, twenty-six million Italians left their homeland; many of them never returned.

Rosina MidwifeKluthe’s writing has appeared in The Malahat Review, among other magazines, her 2012 essay “Scattered” won the Other Voices creative non-fiction contest, and she is currently working on a novel. She teaches advanced business writing at Grant MacEwan and is on the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Extension. Also on the bill for the evening is award-winning author and mystery writer George Szanto.

At The Mike runs 7pm Tuesday, March 12, at Chronicles of Crime, 1048 Fort Street.

 The Department of Writing is also well-represented at the upcoming all-day Malahat Review event WordsThaw 2013. Their first annual spring symposium, WordsThaw features three daytime panels and a literary reading in the evening. Panels include “Zoom In, Zoom Out: Focus on Fiction” moderated by Amy Reiswig with Writing instructor John Gould and busy alum Yasuko Thanh, plus Daniel Griffin; “A Sustainable Feast: The New Food Writing” moderated by Don Genova, with Rhona McAdam and Kimberley Veness; and “In our Names: Writers on Poverty,” with panelists including retired Writing prof Patrick Lane, current instructor and 2012 City of Victoria Book Prize winner Madeline Sonik, plus Sylvia Olsen.

wordsthawad_focusThe evening reading, “Words on Ice,” features the Malahat Review‘s UVic 50th Anniversary Prize winners Pamela Porter, Laura Kraemer, and Katherin Edwards, as well as Writing chair Bill Gaston, soon-to-retire professor Lorna Crozier, new(ish) professor Lee Henderson, plus local writers Marilyn Bowering and C. P. Boyko.

Earlybird rates for a full pass includes all panels and literary reading are $30/$40 (until March 13) and can be purchased from their website. All full passes include a one-year subscription to The Malahat Review or an extension of your current subscription.

WordsThaw runs 10am-10pm Saturday, March 23, in room A240 of UVic’s Human and Social Development building.

New books from Writing this fall

Four notable books came out of the Writing department this fall—two from faculty and two from alumni. Here’s the scoop on them all.

Arno Kopecky with his new book

Arno Kopecky with his new book

Writing grad Arno Kopecky released his first book, The Devil’s Curve: A Journey into Power and Profit at the Amazon’s Edge (Douglas & McIntyre). A journalist and travel writer whose work has appeared in The Walrus, Foreign Policy, the Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, The Tyee and Kenya’s Daily Nation, the Squamish-based Kopecky has covered civil uprisings in Mexico, cyclones in Burma, Zimbabwe’s 30-year dictatorship and election violence in Kenya. And while The Devil’s Curve may have been caught up in the brouhaha that was the Douglas & McIntyre meltdown this fall, Kopecky’s timing was good in that he had copies available at the Department of Writing’s All-Star Reading Night on October 30 (but more on that below).

kopecky-devils-curveDescribed by the Georgia Straight at a “vivid example of immersive journalism,” Kopecky earns praise not just for his writing but his greater themes. “Our high-consumption lives depend on a steady stream of natural resources, and sometimes gaining access to those natural resources means affecting indigenous people . . . Our federal government and resource companies feed us at the expense of others.” The Straight review ends by calling The Devil’s Curve a “trenchant critique of both our representatives and of us. Our apathy, Kopecky reveals, has its consequences.” Intrigued? Check out this video trailer for the book.

Lorna Crozier signs books at her launch in October

Lorna Crozier signs books at her launch in October

Much loved and soon-to-retire Writing professor Lorna Crozier seemed to be all over the media this fall, thanks to her latest volume, The Book of Marvels (Douglas & McIntyre), which she launched at the UVic Bookstore back in October. Talk about marvels—this is Crozier’s 18th book, not counting anthologies and essay contributions! She had a very nice spread in the December 2012 issue of Focus magazine, a PDF of which you can download here (then scroll to page 28). She also had a review in the Globe and Mail—which called Marvels “an irresistible invitation to sit up and take notice, to pay attention to every random thing”—and popped up in the October issue of Martlet, as well as the busy Coastal Spectator. The Globe and Mail also featured Crozier and her recently retired Writing prof husband Patrick Lane as “BC’s Poetry Power Couple.” Aw, that’s sweet!

Nice to see DW Wilson dressed sharp for the Alumni Reading Night

Nice to see DW Wilson dressed up for the Alumni Reading Night!

The October 30 All-Star Reading Night allowed a shelf’s worth of Department of Writing A-listers to come back and strut their stuff to a sold-out house at one of the 50th Anniversary events held by Fine Arts. As well as the previously mentioned Arno Kopecky, featured writers included multiple prize-winner Esi Edugyan, former Vancouver poet laureate Brad Cran, former Victoria poet laureate and current Writing instructor Carla Funk, past Writing instructor Steven Price, rising star D.W. Wilson, busy filmmaker Jeremy Lutter, Fine Arts staffer and screenwriter Daniel Hogg, current Writing instructor Melanie Siebert and playwright and poet Jonathan Garfinkel. The evening was hosted by Writing instructor and Giller Prize-nominated writer John Gould and, despite some truly abysmal weather, was greatly enjoyed by all.

Gaston_Q&QFinally, Writing department chair Bill Gaston finally got his shot at being a cover boy thanks to the October 2012 edition of Quill & Quire. Q&Q were profiling his humbly titled new novel, The World, which he launched locally in October alongside Writing grad Marjorie Celona and her own Giller longlisted novel Y—which you can read all about here.

The local Times Colonist also profiled Gaston in a piece titled “Writing Well, the Hard Way”—advice, we’re sure, he gives to his students all the time.