York professor a featured reader at international poetry event

York University humanities and English Professor Patricia Keeney was a featured reader and speaker at the recently held 24th International Biennial of Poetry in Liege, Belgium. The event, which attracted over 200 writers, is one of the francophone world’s premier poetry gatherings.

In Liege, Keeney participated in discussion sessions arguing for the role of poetry as an increasingly powerful force – both personal and political – in the contemporary world. Keeney also read from her volume Nager Seule (a translation of works from her Selected Poems), which won the Jean Paris prize for French poetry in translation in 2002. Two additional volumes of her work in French translation will be published this fall.

Right: Patricia Keeney

The 24th International Biennial of Poetry took place Sept. 4 to 7 in Belgium. Poets from more than 60 countries attended the biennial which was held under the theme “Words Which Burn”. Workshops and poetry readings punctuated the meeting, which ended with awarding the International Grand Prize of Poetry.

Poet, novelist, editor, writer and teacher, Keeney was a regular critic and columnist for a variety of poetry and literary magazines ranging from Maclean’s to Canadian Literature. In 1983, she became poetry and theatre editor for Canadian Forum. In 1988 she published her first book of poetry, Swimming Alone (Oberon). A volume of her selected poetry with an introduction by Yevgeny Yevtushenko was published in 1996. A member of the international editorial board of Unesco’s World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, she has been teaching creative writing and other literary subjects at York University since 1983.

In 1995, she was awarded one of Canada’s first NAFTA grants in the field of culture and spent the summer in Mexico working on a volume of inter-cultural conversations with Mexican women poets. Her poetry has also been published in Bulgarian, Hindi and Chinese, with individual poems translated into Spanish and German. She has recently completed her second novel, a “docu-mythography” involving international intrigue and artistic exploration, called One Man Dancing and is working on a third novel, a “bio-mythography” of biblical suspense, spiritual search and feminist satire, called Emptiness and Angels.