Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lives of Girls and Women

I attended most of last weekend's Symposium on Manitoba Writing.

I enjoyed the Symposium's mix of readings and seminars, keynotes and panel discussions...and when I got too full of talking, which happened after about six hours of symposium-ing, I would decamp to the nearby forest.

So three walks in three days. And a pile of interesting old books from the MWG used book sale. And as much thinking-through of MB fiction, poetry, and non-fiction as I could handle.

Though I wasn't participating in the Symposium, per se, I will admit that I was most looking forward to the Saturday afternoon session entitled Lives of Girls and Women.

That was because it included a paper on Hump, written by U of M Ph D student Luann Hiebert.

On Thursday afternoon, one of the sessions I attended included papers on the work of Patrick Friesen and Dennis Cooley as well as Patrick Friesen and Dennis Cooley. A few of the presenters made noises about how nervous-making this was for them, so I joked over the next few days about how I was going to sit in the very front row and stare at Luann. And cry/protest noisily: "That's not quite right, actually..."

But when it came to Saturday afternoon, me full of Mother's Day dim sum and kid-gifts and tea (best-case scenario, actually...), I kept my eyes on my notebook in front of me and listened.

I couldn't quite bring myself to look up. Which isn't to say that it was bad or that I was nervous, but that I wanted both Luann and I to have some room in that moment.

I thought I was being very subtle in my making-space, but writer/prof Aretha Van Herk later commented that she was sitting behind me during the session and that I visibly twitched at various points.

Twitching notwithstanding, it was very interesting to hear snippets of my poems in someone else's mouth, to hear Luann's thoughts on aspects of the poems and of the relationships at work there.

Part of the reason I was so pleased to have her presenting on Hump was that publishing, for me, is about having a conversation with readers and writers and critics.

And her taking Hump on as a subject was another part of that conversation being enacted in front of me. Which was very very nice.

* * *

Session 10: Lives of Girls and Women

Tanis MacDonald, Wilfrid Laurier University
GirlWould: Wiseman, Medved, Hunter, and Still on Growing Up Girl in Winnipeg

Jason Wiens, University of Calgary
In Search of Catherine Wiens: Genealogy, Biography, and the Structure of Frederick Philip Grove’s Over Prairie Trails and In Search of Myself

Luann Hiebert, Providence University College
Great Expectations: Ariel Gordon’s Hump & Reader/Writer Conceptions
Every reader/writer approaches a poem with particular expectations. In this reciprocal relationship, it takes both partners to consummate the text. In the context of Ariel Gordon's poetry collection Hump, my presentation will explore the expectant reader as lover/parent intimately engaged in the labour of text-making.

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