Thursday, 13 February 2014

Canadian Poetry: showcase & tutorials

Two approaches to the introduction and showcasing of contemporary Canadian poetry have recently come online. A Poetry Map of Canada was recorded during the Edmonton Poetry Festival 2013. Poetry Connections/Connexion poésie was recorded between 2011-2013 at a range of locations.

A Poetry Map of Canada, the brainchild of recent Edmonton Poet Laureate Anna Marie Sewell, is comprised of two half-hour presentations of the works of a spectrum of Poet Laureates of Canada. The first video opens with the Makar of Glasgow, Scotland, Liz Lochhead, and then a fast-paced east-to-west presentation of poet laureates of Canada, ending with the recent Parliamentary Poet of Canada, Fred Wah. The pace is good, the poetry fine, swift, brief.

"Act II" or "Part 2" is a synthesized representation of the works of the poets laureate, performed in three voices, with soundscape. This is a satisfying tapestry of works and styles, delivered with panache.

A Poetry Map of Canada Part 1

 - An Evening with the Poets Laureate of Canada

 - An Evening with the Poets Laureate of Canada


IN THIS ONLINE ANTHOLOGY, 21 poets are showcased in discrete short videos of about five minutes each. The collection is curated by Fred Wah, Parliamentary Poet Laureate 2011-2013. It is available on the Parliament of Canada website in association with his pages: at the moment the youtube links are not aligned with the current locations on that site, no doubt the corrections will come along soon. 

Whereas the poets laureates showcased above each hold a public post in a poetry-friendly city or region, this collection was chosen for a range of compositional approaches, and that is it's core strength as a teaching tool. Beyond the public face of poets laureate, there are a wild diversity of working poets who have mind-bendingly different conceptions and motives, in the creation or generation of poetry. These short films serve as an introduction, with a variety of places of poetry keeping the series fresh and unexpected, both visually and in content. Here are two:

Annharte Baker

Darren Wershler

Another of the strengths of this anthology is that it is available as text in both official languages (English and French), in addition to the video format published online. In some cases, how it looks and how it sounds are utterly distinct: the tensions between orality and textuality are resolved differently by different poets, just as the sensuality versus intellection quotients vary widely. 

Oana Avasilichioaei as sound

and as text [pdf]

Besides the availability of the poems and brief biographies of the poets, there are discussion points and writing directions for each, prepared by contemporary poets and teachers, that assist the reader in delving a little deeper into the specific poem, the school or approach, and in trying one's hand: this is a great asset for those looking to learn about poetry, or to refresh and renew an ongoing poetry engagement.

Public disclaimer:
 I am one of the poets included in Poetry Connections:

Joanne Arnott video

[pdf] English 

[pdf] Francais

From the website:

“One of my projects as Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate is to produce a series of short videos to help make contemporary Canadian poetry more accessible. These recordings illustrate a range of poetry that reflects the identity, places and modes of poetic writing in Canada.” – Fred Wah

Visit Poetry Connection on YouTube to view the Poet Laureate’s video series, and download the PDFs below to learn more about the featured poets and their work. The PDF files also include the text of the poems, as well as discussion topics and writing ideas.

« L’un de mes projets en tant que poète officiel du Parlement consiste à produire une série de vidéoclips afin de rendre plus accessible la poésie canadienne contemporaine. Ces vidéoclips illustrent une gamme poétique reflétant la variété d’identités, de lieux et de modes de composition poétique du Canada. » - Fred Wah

Visitez Connexion poésie sur YouTube pour regarder les vidéoclips du poète officiel, et téléchargez les PDF ci-dessous pour en savoir plus sur les poètes en vedettes ainsi que leurs œuvres. Les PDF incluent également le texte des poèmes ainsi que des sujets de discussion et des inspirations pour vos propres compositions.


~ Canada's current Poet Laureate ~ 

Michel Pleau, 2014-2016

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