Monday, September 15, 2014


The view from behind UMP's books table at Mount Royal University's Under Western Skies conference; the Earth Works Like a Poem panelists, Alec Whitford, Ariel Gordon, Richard Harrison, Micheline Maylor, and Weyman Chan.

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My week in Calgary was split three ways glorious but tiring ways.

First, I attended a variety of panel discussions with titles like Fantastic Invasion: Wild Politics and Order in Urban Spaces, Urban/Rural Ecologies and Policies, and Creating Civilization out of Wilderness and Vice-Versa: Prairies, Forests, and Badlands in the North American West.

It should go without saying that much of this was right up my alley, but I will say it: there was lots to think on and lots of references to look up post-conference. I would even go so far as to say that I was inspired by the work that was shared.

My favourite new piece of forest-y jargon is "hard deforestation," which means the loss of forest cover to the built environment (as opposed to farming and logging...).

Second, I participated in two panel discussions—The Earth Works Like a Poem on Tuesday and Eco-Poetry Readings on Thursday—and subbed in Jenna Butler in a third, Friday's Environmental Literature session.

The eco-poetry panel was hosted by Micheline Maylor and included Angela Waldie and Joan Shillington from Calgary and Diana Woodcock from Qatar (via Skype...) while the environmental lit panel was hosted by Kit Dobson and featured both Ann Eriksson and Phil Condon.

The first two sessions were were all about poetry and ideas and community-building, which are some of my very favourite things. And it was good to kick off my fall touring of Stowaways...

The highlight of the last session was getting to read the preface and first chapter of Jenna's upcoming book of creative non-fiction about her small northern farm, On the Grizzly Trail. The lowlight, if there was one, was making sure that I was doing the text justice...reading long-form prose is so very different than performing poetry.

The third and final segment of the conference was sitting behind UMP's books table and spelling off UMP's acquisitions editor. The way it worked out is that she got to go to more of the keynote speakers and I got to go to more panels...

Did I also mention there were events most nights of the conference? And that I was interviewed by the intrepid Emily Ursuliak for the CJSW radio program Writer's Block?

So, yes, I'm knackered. But home again and happy...

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