Arresting Text on campus

By Nicole Kobie

University of Calgary students are about to get arrested. No, the War Measures Act isn’t about to be invoked. It’s just the English Department’s series Arresting Text, a week of readings, panels and discussions running Feb. 2-8, mostly in the Rozsa Centre, as a part of Black History Month.

"Normally in the English Department we have a series of readings sponsored by the Canada Council and the Writer’s Union of Canada and so forth, and these happen throughout the year," says professor Fred Wah of the English Department. "This year we decided to concentrate, to focus a lot of the readings roughly at the same time."

Created in conjunction with the Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writers Programme and the Faculty of Humanities, Arresting Text features fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama, as well as a special focus on black history. The first day of events, Fri., Feb. 2, will highlight Black literature in Canada, including such authors as Wayde Compton, Ian Samuels and Barry McKinnon. Wah is especially intruiged by a special poetry forum called "Philly Talks."

"It’s an audiocast across North America," explains Wah. "We’re going to have people from New York to San Francisco, everywhere calling in to ask questions."

While the kickoff focuses on black history, the remainder of the week is all about celebrating writing.

"The writers all write in different directions," said Wah. "No real theme, just taking different issues with writers."

While the focus is on fiction and nonfiction, expect much more. As Canada is a bilingual country, there’s a session on translators. The Drama Department is hosting a "play reading slap-down" where play-writing students perform short pieces of their own work. Philadelphia poet Aaron Levy will be making good use of transparency slides in his reading and discussion. Joy Kogawa and Kenneth Harvey will both make appearances as will the two U of C writers in residence.

"Our writer in residence this year is Laura Robinson," says Wah. "She writes about women in sports and natives in sports. Nicole Broussard is a Quebecois poet/novelist of fairly significant renown and she’s going to be the Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writer-in-Residence all that week. So she’s involved in a lot of the events in panels and reading her poetry and generally hanging around."

Wah believes writing students and English students alike will value the chance to meet writers whose work is taught in their classes, as well as to meet recent successful graduates of the creative writing program.

"According to the President [Terry White], it’s one of the 10 areas of excellence in this University," said Wah. "So we felt we’d try to focus our energies and try to bring a little focus to that."

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