The Univerity of Calgary’s Distinguished Writers Program has named Margaret Atwood the 2012–13 Distinguished Visiting Writer, making Atwood the 19th writer chosen by the program. Previous writers who have visited Calgary as part of the program include Michael Ondaatje and Art Spiegeleman.
Formed in 1993 by the U of C faculty of arts, the program aimed to create support for writers in the west.
“The idea was to connect Calgary to the larger writing community in the world,” says English department head Bart Beaty. “Calgary is unfortunately a little off the beaten path for tours. This is a proactive decision to reach out and bring a writer of real stature here every year.”
Distinguished visiting writers contribute to the local writing community through talks, workshops, readings or consultations. Atwood will be hosting a reading followed with commentary and signing event. The program is also offering a closed consultation between Atwood and students who have applied.
The program also has a writer-in-residence at the U of C. Deborah Willis, the 2012–13 writer-in-residence, spends half of her time working on her own writing and the other half consulting with local writers on campus and in the community, supporting the literary culture in Calgary.
Beaty says the program helps maintain Calgary’s writing community. “The U of C is a really great place for writers and creative writing. Across the entire campus there are people that are engaged as creative writers. I think we tend to forget that.”
Atwood will be speaking on Feb. 14 in MacEwan Hall at 7:30 p.m.
“I anticipate we’ll have a very impressive turnout,” Beaty says. “It should be very provocative. You never know what precisely she might have to say about the oil sands or the Conservative government.”