Writing student named Alumnus of Honour

Department of Writing student Anna-Maria Landis has been named Alumnus of Honour for Victorious Voices, Victoria’s annual Secondary School Slam Championships.

A high-energy youth poetry festival that is widely recognized in the poetry community as one of the most inspiring and entertaining events of the year, Victorious Voices runs April 15 to 17 in Victoria and will feature performances not only by Landis but also Youth Poet Laureate and fellow Writing student Aysia Law.

Anna-Maria Landis

Anna-Maria Landis

Landis, a first-year Writing student, has maintained her ties with Reynolds Secondary School through her weekly coaching sessions with their current slam team. “I’ve been encouraging them to keep writing, helping them to become a cohesive team, to think outside the box,” says Landis. “I’m trying to keep that poetry motivation alive at Reynolds; it’s important to have older students going back, for them to have those role models.”

It must be working, as the Reynolds slam team just came in second at Hullabaloo, the annual provincial youth poetry slam. “It’s pretty amazing how supportive other students are of hearing their friends read poetry,” she continues. “It kind of blows my mind.” She says slam is the ideal vehicle for high school expression. “All those hard feelings, those things that make you feel like a melodramatic teenager, you’re able to get out at a slam.”

www.brianvanwykphotography.comLandis says she was inspired to begin performing poetry during her years at Reynolds thanks to visits by noted spoken word artists like The Fugitives and Shane Koyczan, who were brought in by English teacher Brad Cunningham. “I wasn’t even in his class,” she laughs, “but then I started going to [local slam collective] Tongues of Fire—that really sparked the interest for me—then we started our own slam team at Reynolds.”

She continues to be surprised by the level of support for spoken word at Reynolds. “We would have open mics at lunch hour and it was insane—a hundred high school students would come out and watch people read poetry,” she recalls. “Having that community from the get go gave a sense of momentum; you could express yourself through poetry. Most people in high school don’t usually perform poetry, it’s more a private thing.”

Victorious-Voices-2013Landis and Law are not the only UVic students who will be performing new work at Victorious Voices; also among the six others on the bill for the April 16 “Still Victorious” Alumni Showcase is two-time Victorious Voices champion and former Reynolds student Zoe Duhaime, who is now studying “healthy sexuality, women’s studies, philosophy and English at UVic (but admits she spent most of this year “messing around in vague but wonderful Humanities courses”). And Writing grad Danielle Pope is one of the judges for the Finals.

Back on campus, Landis entered this video poem about her at-times difficult relationship with her mother in this year’s UVic Diversity Poetry Contest. “It was a huge risk the first time I performed it,” she admits. “But you get that taste of writing about people you know, which is scary, because of how it can affect them. Then it became the poem I was really known for, and I heard from a lot of moms who said they needed to hear things from that perspective.”

As for her career in the Writing department, Landis says it was a foregone conclusion. “My goal in life is to write and I knew if I was going to do anything academic that wasn’t writing, I’d get distracted from that goal,” she says. “Writing is my priority, and I’d heard so many good things about UVic’s program.”

But surprisingly, she isn’t focusing on poetry at this point. “I don’t know if I could do poetry in an academic setting,” she says with a chuckle. “A lot of the skills I’ve been learning seem to lend themselves more toward fiction. I find it really hard to confine poetry to the page; I like spoken word as a venue better.”

Victorious Voices: Semi-finals are at 7pm Monday, April 15, at the Victoria Event Centre on Broad Street. Still Victorious, the Alumni Showcase, starts 7:30pm Tuesday, April 16 at Solstice Café. Finals, featuring an opening poem by Victoria Poet Laureate Janet Rogers and the Alumnus of Honour Showcase, starts 7:30pm Wednesday, April 17 at the Event Centre.

Summer Music courses rock!

Want a fresh soundtrack for the summer semester? Check out these special courses offered through the School of Music.

MarqueeV1If you like movies and music in movies, you’ll love Let’s Go to the Movies (Music 391). Think about some of the classic moments in cinematic history and you can’t help but hear the music that goes along with them: the ominous, lurking theme from Jaws, the shrieking violin in Psycho, the pulse-pounding excitement of the James Bond theme.

Let’s Go to the Movies will examine the role of music in movies, drawing mainly upon American movies of the past 75 years. You’ll look at how music is used to support the development of characters and story, how music creates atmosphere and more, all illustrated by a select series of visual and audio clips. A music background is not a prerequisite—the main requirement is a willingness to listen carefully and articulate what you hear. Not only will you develop critical listening and viewing skills, but it’s guaranteed to change the way you hear movies!

Let’s Go to the Movies (Music 391) runs 2:30-4:30 daily July 8-30 in MacLaurin A169.

MUS 391 is taught by Anita Bonkowski, who has a wide range of expertise in theory, history and orchestration in both jazz and classical music. Since earning her Masters in Music, she has continued to work nationally and internationally as a drummer, bassist, composer and arranger, performing in jazz and R&B bands, musical theatre and show bands. Her pieces can be heard on radio stations around the world.

But if you’re more interested in rock music, why not give either The Top 20 Albums (Music 208) or The Beatles (Music 308) a spin?

Sgt. Pepper'sThe Top 20 Albums looks at the album as an art form. Once merely a change of format in the ever-competing music industry, “the album” has evolved over time to be the medium for some of the most remarkable music of rock history. Through close listening and consideration of context, you’ll explore production, songwriting and the phenomenon of lists, comparisons and biases as well as their ramifications on the artists, musicians and composers in their careers. The criterion for what makes this particular top-20 list is the album itself as a “work of art.” That guarantees great variety and good listening.

The Top 20 Albums (Music 208) runs 2:30-4:30pm daily May 124 in MacLaurin A169.

beatles_theIt’s an understatement to say The Beatles were no ordinary rock band—they were part of a revolution of thought in a world reinventing its values. They were talented, charismatic and riding an unbelievable wave of music and social history; and while they achieved mythic proportions, they also suffered the consequences. From poverty in Liverpool to such wealth and fame: their story and their history are the subject of this course. Their music is a profound legacy that has affected every musician who has ever heard them. Together with George Martin they were innovators in the world of recording. The Beatles had a chemistry about them, an openness, and honesty, an innocence and sense of humour that conquered the world.

The Beatles (Music 308) runs 2:30-4:20 daily June 12-July 5 in MacLaurin A169.

Both Top 20 Albums and The Beatles are taught by singer/ songwriter/actor Colleen Eccleston. Colleen has enjoyed a multifaceted career as a performer ranging from various theatrical productions to fronting a six-piece rock band and touring with the Ecclestons for the past 14 years playing traditional and original music. She has also toured extensively as a solo performer. She has been a songwriting mentor for the BC Festival of the Arts, a novelist, a voice instructor and a sessional instructor in the School of Music for many years. Maclean’s magazine even rated her one of the most popular profs at UVic!

Luminary Limner exhibit online

Andy Warhol called him the “master of instant retrospectives.” Now anyone can view the works of Karl Spreitz as part of a new online virtual exhibition launched by UVic Art Collections.

Myfanwy Pavelic in her studio

Myfanwy Pavelic in her studio

The collection covers more than three decades and consists of over 100 reels of 16 mm film. It includes everything from a scene of Limner artist Myfanwy Pavelic talking to her friend Katherine Hepburn on the phone to the totems at Skunggwai (Anthony Island) in Haida Gwaii.

Karl Spreitz is a compelling character—both for his larger-than-life personality and his accomplishments in film, photography and the arts,” explains Caroline Riedel of UVic Art Collections. “He was a pioneer and mentor in documentary and experimental film-making in BC as well as one of the founding members of the Limners Society, an art group that virtually defined the modern art scene here in the 1970s.”

It’s a unique project given that museums tend to digitize images of objects, not film, says  Riedel, who curated the exhibit with technical support from UVic’s Fine Arts Studios for Integrated Media and some much-needed student assistance. “This project wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of Fine Arts graduate intern Dorothy June Fraser in History in Art, and former grad intern Kim Reinhardt, as well as co-op students Alex King and Margaret Weller,” says Riedel. The project was partially funded by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC.

Spreitz, who was born in Austria in 1927 and immigrated to Canada in 1952, did not follow a linear career trajectory. In 1944, he fled across Germany on a stolen bicycle and ended up after the war holding a 16 mm movie camera to film European track and field events while serving as an Olympic coach. In 1959, he moved to Victoria where his distinctive filmic and photography style began to flourish, as a staff photographer for Beautiful British Columbia magazine in the late 1960s and especially at the height of the “underground” film movement of the 1970s.

Macauley Point outfall pipe construction, 1968-70

Macauley Point outfall pipe construction, 1968-70

The online collection offers a fascinating mix of footage, from scenes with local artists to archival images of the infamous 1896 Point Ellice Bridge disaster (which utilizes the “Ken Burns effect” of having the camera move along still photographs long before Burns was making his documentaries) and the construction of the Macauley Point sewage outfall—sure to be of interest in these times of heated sewage debates.