Women’s press launches fiction and poetry series

York’s feminist press Inanna launches its new poetry and fiction imprint with the publication of three books by Canadian women – including two York professors – Feb. 23 at Toronto’s Heliconian Club.

Books by York faculty members are Pilgrims in Love, a novel by Frances Beer, and The Missing Line: Poems from Canadian Woman Studies, edited by Marlene Kadar. The third is My Husband’s Wedding, stories by film director and screenwriter Patricia Watson.

Since 1983, York-based Inanna Publications and Education Inc., which publishes the journal Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme, has focused on academic publishing. “The new Inanna Poetry and Fiction Series represents an exciting departure for us,” says editor-in-chief Luciana Ricciutelli. “In our work with the journal, we kept encountering these wonderful women’s voices who needed support to find their audiences. We felt the time was opportune to add more fiction and poetry to our list.”

In Pilgrims in Love, Beer sets herself a daunting task to re-imagine The Canterbury Tales from the points of view of Chaucer’s “cheerful reprobate”, the Wife of Bath and her “worthy opponent”, the fastidious Prioress. Drawing on her deep knowledge of medieval history, Beer creates a vivid and skillful narrative of medieval life, particularly the lives of women.

Left: Frances Beer

The novel is by turns bawdy, rowdy, tender, hilarious and moving. It will engage any reader who has ever grappled with the battle of the sexes and (wo)man’s place in creation. “Read it and laugh!” says writer and director Naomi Diamond. Beer has been teaching courses on Chaucer at York for the past 30 years.

kadarIn The Missing Line, Kadar has selected poetry recently published in Canadian Woman Studies that takes us out of the 20th century and into the 21st, helping to make better sense of a burgeoning women’s tradition of poetry in English Canada. The volume includes the varied work of 12 Canadian poets whose poetry is both poignant and playful. Kadar states, “In these poems, the women’s words are a dazzling memorandum of times lost and times regained, but they also bravely hurl us forward into a future time of wishes and imagined worlds.”

Right: Marlene Kadar

Kadar, a women’s studies professor at York, has published extensively on the art of life-writing and is herself an emerging poet of considerable literary prowess.

Patricia Watson’s stories in My Husband’s Wedding are about family, friendship, love and the deprivation of love. She writes simply and directly about the comic tragedies of everyday life. The stories are funny, sad, human and engaging. Her readers care and identify with all her characters, even the ones they don¹t like! As author Judy Steed has remarked, “Watson explores the cracks in our lives with wonderful subtlety and humour and exposes our vulnerability and longing with exquisite clarity.” Patricia Watson is a prize-winning film director, screenwriter and successful artist. With this volume she now turns her keen wit and skillful observations to fiction.

A joint book launch for all three books as well as Inanna’s newly released Feminist Politics, Activism and Vision: Local and Global Challenges (co-published with Zed Books of London) will be held in Toronto on Feb. 23 at the Heliconian Club, 35 Hazelton Ave. from 5 to 7pm. Beer and Watson as well as Kadar and other poets whose work appears in her collection will read from their work.

Inanna is also known for its textbooks, including Canadian Woman Studies: An Introductory Reader and Violence Against Women: New Canadian Perspectives.