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.

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.

Curating achievement

Some students start in Fine Arts, while others find their way here. Slide History in Art Honours student Regan Shrumm into the latter category. After starting in the English department, Shrumm found her way to our side of the Ring Road when she signed up for Melissa Barry’s Impressionism in Art class as an elective. She liked it so much she took other History in Art electives with professors Marcus Milwright and Eva Baboula, and then simply decided to switch midway through her first year.

“I’ve always been interested in history, but I took a couple of history courses and found they were just numbers—they didn’t describe the society,” Shrumm explains. “But in History in Art, they tackle the whole society, the culture of it all—which I love. That’s what I’m interested in; not major events. I always got the best professors in this department.”

Regan Shrumm with her Victoria Medal and an exmpale of her QR code work in the Salish Reflections collection

Regan Shrumm with her Victoria Medal and an example of her QR code work in the Salish Reflections collection

Humanities loss was Fine Arts’ gain, however, as Shrumm flourished in her new faculty. Winner of the 2013 Victoria Medal—awarded annually to the student with the highest GPA in the Faculty of Fine Arts—Shrumm achieved an enviable graduating average of 8.48 and is described by History in Art chair Dr. Catherine Harding as “a remarkable student” who “brought a lively, vibrant spark” to her classes.

But far from simply earning good grades, Shrumm’s passion for the arts led her into various curatorial positions with the likes of the Legacy Art Gallery, the Quilt and Textile Museum in La Conner, Washington, and her current position at downtown’s Open Space Gallery. She also successfully completed a Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award in 2011-12, where she researched a set of icons and other religious artifacts from pre-revolutionary Russia with the aim of bringing the objects out of storage and into the public eye. “She made these precious items come alive through her focus on their materiality and their special relationship to other artistic traditions, such as the close visual connections between Greek Byzantine and Russian religious culture,” notes Harding. Shrumm’s research was then published in the Arbutus Review and she will be curating an exhibition of these artifacts for the Legacy Gallery in the spring of 2014.

“People don’t come into this field unless they’re really interested, and have a passion for it—the same as all the arts,” Shrumm says. “I always hear Visual Arts students call us the artists who are academics—which is kind of funny, but I think I study art because I can’t do it very well myself. I like to look at the work of others.”

"Conversation" by Chris Paul (2004) is in UVic's Salish Reflections collection

“Conversation” by Chris Paul (2004) is in UVic’s Salish Reflections collection

Some of that work would include the Salish Reflections collection of Coast Salish art that is installed throughout the Cornett building. Part of a permanent and rotating series of exhibitions of contemporary art from the University of Victoria Art CollectionsSalish Reflections  features the generous gifts and loans of 20 pieces to the Faculty of Social Sciences by George and Christiane Smyth. Selected from the Smyth’s greater Salish Weave Collection, Salish Reflections includes outstanding work by Susan Point, Chris Paul, Maynard Johnny Jr. and lessLIE. The dedication of space in the Cornett building to artistic excellence recognizes the valuable intellectual and cultural contributions made by the arts to research and teaching in the Social Sciences.

As part of her undergraduate work, Shrumm co-designed the Salish Reflections website, updated the hallway displays with QR codes and wrote some publication materials about the collection. “There’s something special about Coast Salish art on Coast Salish land that hadn’t been showcased before, so I wanted to make something that would describe the Coast Salish people, and put a story to each piece of art,” she explains.

A QR code, in case you didn't know what one was

A QR code, just FYI

Better still, Shrumm’s efforts are just the tip of the proverbial curatorial iceberg: the QR codes she installed will eventually be spreading to the greater University of Victoria Art Collections. “This was just the beginning,” she says. “I think the Maltwood Gallery in the McPherson Library will always have QR codes now, and each piece of outdoor art will eventually get one.”

Shrumm called Mount Vernon, Washington, home before coming to UVic, and she hopes that will give her an edge down the road in her ambition to become a museum curator.  “I’m lucky in that I have dual citizenship, and there are a lot more jobs in the U.S. than in Canada—and a lot of those are in cities where people don’t necessarily want to live, like Alabama or South Dakota,” she chuckles. “I figure I’ll start someplace small, keep gaining experience and building on what I’ve already done; I seem to have more experience than a lot of other people my age, so hopefully I can go for a bit bigger city.”

Despite her JCURA research on Russian religious icons, Shrumm admits to being partial to pioneer villages. “I especially like historical homes, that’s what I’m aiming at. I’ve long had an interest in pioneer life of the 1880s or 1890s. It’s like living history . . . that kind of history is especially intriguing for me.”

Now graduated, Shrumm will return to the History in Art department in September 2013 to begin her Master’s degree, most likely working on First Nations issues in art. “I hope this award impacts my future,” she says. “It says I’m more than the average person, which will hopefully help with job placement. I was actually really surprised that I got it, as I had fellow students who seemed to always do better than me. It’s funny—when they read out my bio, I was, like, ‘Is that me?’” The vibrant Shrumm pauses and laughs. “When you condense it all down, it sounds so fantastic, but it didn’t seem like so much when I was just doing it. Even my parents said that they knew I was doing all these things, but to hear it condensed like that, they were so proud of me.”

As are we all, Regan.

Edugyan & Price at Russell’s

Good news for local literature lovers—not only is Russell’s Books expanding again, but they’re also kicking off a new reading series! In an age where independent bookstores seem to be vanishing faster than space in newspapers for book reviews, it’s great to see a local outfit like Russell’s breaking new ground.

Edugyan & Price

Edugyan & Price

As part of their latest expansion, Russell’s Books is now opening Russell’s Vintage, which collects all their antiquarian books in one handy spot—the former Fort Café location, downstairs at 742 Fort Street. Better still, Russell’s Vintage will also offer a stage which will host a new reading series. This week, the series kicks off with multiple award-winning author Esi Edugyan (Half-Blood Blues) and local poet and novelist Steven Price (Into That Darkness), plus poet Marita Daschsel, at 7pm Tuesday, May 14.

Books x 2Like Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane for the next generation, the husband-and-wife team of Edugyan and Price both hail from the Writing program and have both taught for the Writing department. (They’ve even been nominated for the same award at the same time.) Come on out and support them on Tuesday night . . . after you vote. And you are going to vote, right?

BC book prized

Esi Edugyan at the 2011 Giller Prize

Chalk up another win for long-lasting local literary luminary Esi Edugyan, who took home the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize at the BC Book Prizes on the weekend for her sophomore novel, Half-Blood Blues.

Edugyan’s novel of persecuted black jazz musicians in WWII-era Occupied Europe triumphed over Michael Christie’s The Beggar’s Garden, Frances Greenslade’s Shelter and Once You Break a Knuckle by Department of Writing graduate and next-big-thing author D.W. Wilson. Ironically, the post-earthquake Victoria novel Into That Darkness by Edugyan’s husband Steven Price—also a Writing grad and frequent sessional instructor in the department—was also nominated in the same category.

In addition to the Wilson fiction prize, the BC Book Prizes also include the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize (won by Charlotte Gill for her tree-planting memoir Eating Dirt), the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (crawlspace, by John Pass, which beat out The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane by retired Writing department superstar Patrick Lane), the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize (The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver, by the late Chuck Davis), the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize (Blood Red Roadby Moira Young), the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize (When I Was Small by Sara O’Leary,illustrated by Julie Morstad) and the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award (which also went to The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver). Previously announced was the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence, which went to Salt Spring Island poet and author Brian Brett.

Hosted by author and comic Charles Demers at a gala in Vancouver on Saturday May 12, the BC Book Prizes each carry a cash prize of $2,000, plus a certificate . . . and, of course, bragging rights.

Still pending for Edugyan? Her nominations for the £30,000 Orange Prize, to be announced May 30, and the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize, coming June 16.

Voting Time

Nope, this isn’t an advance call for the upcoming fall elections, nor is it a roundup of the Super Tuesday results from south of the border. It’s simply time once again for Monday Magazine‘s annual M Awards—where a healthy crop of UVic talent can again be found among the nominees.

While there is space for write-in nominations in ever category—meaning groups like Philomela Women’s Choir could be nominated as Favourite Vocal Ensemble, busy graduate student filmmaker Scott Amos could be tagged as Favourite Local Filmmaker, or Visual Arts graduate student Dong-Kyoon Nam could be highlighted as Favourite Emerging Visual Artist—listed below are the categories and nominees who have a UVic affiliation.

Deadline for voting is 5 pm Friday, March 23, and you can vote either by picking up a copy of the paper, filling out the ballot and then returning it, or by using the infinitely quicker online ballot. Winners will be announced in April 26 issue of Monday Magazine.

Here are the relevant nominees and their categories, with some UVic-affiliated alternative choices:

• Favourite New Production
Inside — Phoenix Theatre
(Alternate: SNAFU Dance Theatre’s Little Orange Man, created by and starring Phoenix alum Ingrid Hansen)

Cobi Dayan, Genevieve Dale& Mik Byskov in Twelfth Night (photo: David Lowes)

• Favourite Overall Production
Twelfth Night — Phoenix Theatre
(Alternates: Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? directed by Theatre prof Brian Richmond; Theatre Inconnu’s A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, directed by sessional Theatre instructor Clayton Jevne; Atomic Vaudeville’s Ride the Cyclone—which is also up for Favourite Musical—co-directed by Theatre alum Britt Small and starring a whole whack o’ Phoenix alum)

• Favourite Director
Linda Hardy — Twelfth Night
(Alternate: Brian Richmond, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Jacob Richmond and Britt Small, Ride the Cyclone)

He said, she said: Price vs. Edugyan—the literary battle that had to happen!

• Favourite Fiction Book
Half Blood Blues Esi Edugyan
Into That Darkness Steven Price
(Oooh, a husband-and-wife race! How exciting!)

• Favourite Non-Fiction Book
Come From the Shadows — Terry Glavin
(Alternate: Campie by Writing alum Barbara Stewart)

• Favourite Book of Poetry
ApologeticCarla Funk
Small Mechanics — Lorna Crozier
(Oooh, a departmental showdown! How nervewracking!)

Just a reminder that any nominated individuals must live in Greater Victoria—or have lived here for part of 2011—and performances/shows/events must have taken place in Greater Victoria in 2011. For publications and recordings, publisher/label can be outside Victoria, but writer/artist must be from Greater Victoria and the work issued in 2011.


Media roundup

From left: Siminovitch jury chair Maureen Labonté with Joan MacLeod, Dr. Lou Siminovitch, playwright and $25,000 Siminovitch Protégé Award recipient Anusree Roy, and BMO Senior Vice-President Andrew Auerbach

No question, it’s been a busy couple of weeks in the media for Fine Arts faculty and alumni. In case you haven’t been able to keep up on it all, here’s a quick roundup of recent media coverage.

Joan MacLeod – As the winner of this year’s $100,000 Siminovitch Prize for Theatre, the acclaimed playwright and acting chair of the Department of Writing was splashed across numerous front pages, including the Globe and Mail, the Times Colonist, the Vancouver Sun and MacLean’s magazine, among others, as well as being interviewed by CBC radio and CBC television.

Lorna Croier receives her Order of Canada from Governor General David Johnston (Photo: Sgt Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall © 2011 Office of the Secretary to the Governor General of Canada)

Lorna Crozier – The beloved poet and longtime Writing senior faculty member received her Officer of the Order of Canada on Friday, November 4. Local TV station CHEK provides a clip of the ceremony.

Esi Edugyan – The $50,000 Giller Prize win by this uber-talented Writing graduate and former Writing instructor (mistakenly described as “Vancouver writer” by the Toronto Sun) has earned coverage in most Canadian media outlets, as well as some international headlines, as seen in the New York Observer and this BBC article. Check out the CBC coverage, which features an award clip and a morning-after interview. Geez, who’d wanna get up that early after winning the literary prize of a lifetime? She also talks with Q’s Jian Ghomeshi (November 9 podcast).

Esi Edugyan accepts the Giller Prize on Nov 8 (Photo: Tyler Anderson/National Post)

Plus, the National Post ran a lovely reflection on the crazy year that Edugyan and her husband, Writing instructor Steven Price, have had—including new books by both of them (Price’s was the local earthquake novel, Into That Darkness) and the recent birth of their first child. “You each became the other’s first reader, and most essential editor. You brainstormed together, solved the work together, sought out and quarreled with whatever you were in the thick of over dinner, or while washing up. You remember that first apartment, with the tiny kitchen, where one of you wrote on a card table next to the garbage can in the mornings, the other late into the nights—and how you often left work out for the other to read over, and make suggestions on.”

Sean Holman talks to Andrew MacLeod (A.MacLeod, photo)

Sean Holman – In addition to teaching journalism in the Department of Writing, and filling in as the acting Director of Professional Writing, Holman got plenty of coverage recently with the news that he was shutting down the daily reporting aspect of his infamous investigative journalism watchdog blog, Public Eye Online. After seven years of scrums, breaking a whopping 6,000 stories and dealing with ever-dwindling resources, Holman’s announcement caught more than a few people off-guard. Here, he talks to Andrew MacLeod, legislative bureau chief for the Tyee, about why he’s bowing out. And then the Tyee ran an opinion piece by The Ubyssey student newspaper editor Justin McElroy called, “What Sean Holman Taught Me”. “As journalists, the world of public demand teaches us to focus on our ‘brand’ and our Klout score,” writes McElroy. “We’re told that having the skills of a writer, photographer, editor and on-air talent, all in one, is the best hope for success. But at the same time, we’re also told that investigative journalism skills are important, and that the role of the fourth estate is vital. Holman’s decision gives a hint as to which priorities are winning.”

Holman also offered the Canadian Centre for Investigative Journalism these five lessons learned from his years of doing Public Eye Online. And Shaw TV’s Dan Kahan offered this end-of-an-era interview with Holman. Finally, Vanessa Hawk of UVic’s own Martlet offered this in-house interview with Holman, which also offered some thoughts on the next generation of journalists he’s helping to teach: “It’s so fantastic when I see my students being able to write an exclusive story that could easily be published in any major newspaper across the country. That’s extraordinarily rewarding.”

Frances Backhouse – This MFA candidate in Writing and award-winning writer herself recently penned a fascinating and informative ode to the beaver for the Tyee, in response to Senator Nicole Eaton’s push to have this “dentally defective rat” and “toothy tyrant” removed as our national symbol.

Visual Arts grad Mike McLean in front of his year in photos (Photo: Darren Stone, Times Colonist)

Mike McLean – A Visual Arts alumnus and former sessional instructor, McLean’s new Open Space exhibit, Thirty-Five Thousand Forty, was featured in the Times Colonist. McLean took 96 photos a day for an entire year, from June 2010 to June 2011, which now cover every inch of the gallery’s walls. “Photography in the digital era is developing its own language, forging unique processes and technologies,” writes McLean in the show’s description. “It seems to have reached the democratic potential that George Eastman predicted one hundred years ago, when he took the process out of the studio of the trained craftsman and put it into the hands of the unskilled hobbyist.” As Open Space notes, “McLean turns the idea of digital photography inside out, conferring an analogue physicality and monumentality onto a format that proliferates effortlessly, flooding websites, Facebook, memory cards and hard drives in an unimaginably deep cloak of images.” The exhibit runs to December 10 at Open Space, 510 Fort Street in Victoria.

Will Weigler (Photo: Darren Stone, Times Colonist)

Will Weigler – A sessional instructor in Theatre specializing in Applied Theatre, Weigler’s doctoral dissertation about  why audiences connect to live performances—what he describes as “ah-ha!” moments—was featured in both the Times Colonist and the Calgary Herald, as well as the Victoria News, and was interviewed for CFUV’s campus news show, U in the Ring, and on-air at CFAX 1070. “Weigler asked more than 90 people—including scholars and critics—to describe unforgettable moments they had experienced in theatre,” writes Chamberlain. “He then analyzed these descriptions to see if any identifiable patterns emerged. And they did. A theatre director and actor, Weigler will publish his dissertation in book form to help others create compelling and memorable theatre . . . . Weigler discovered a number of recurring factors that typify ‘ah-ha!’ theatre. For instance, something unorthodox might happen that alters the traditional actor/audience relationship. It works to yank us into the action. An actor may be suddenly held upside down, or have a pie thrown in his face. In his research, Weigler also found other physical things – perhaps an onstage gesture – can embody an emotion, a relationship or some other aspect in a powerful, revelatory manner. This, too, can break down any performer/ audience barrier.”

John Gould, centre, with judges Page (left) and Stenson (photo: Adrian Lam, Times Colonist)

John Gould – This longtime Department of Writing instructor and acclaimed author was one of the three judges for the Times Colonist‘s second annual “So You Think You Can Write?”contest, alongside fellow professional writers Susan Stenson and Kathy Page. This year’s winner was UVic English graduate Maija Liinamaa, about whom Gould said, “A kid’s algebra class—what a superbly unlikely place to experience supernatural intervention! A fresh concept, brought to life with fresh prose and tons of finely observed detail.”