York University students and the public can get up close and personal with an eclectic group of authors this year. Twelve Canadian authors, including Trillium Book Award winner Wayson Choy and Giller-nominated Camilla Gibb, will read from their latest works during York’s Canadian Writers in Person Series, which launches Sept. 21 and runs through March 2007.
The readings, which are free and open to the public, will be held Thursdays at 7pm in Room ACW206 in York’s new Accolade West Building on the Keele campus. The series begins tomorrow with a reading by author Afua Cooper.
“This course, which is so important to Atkinson and to the York community, would not have been possible without the dedicated effort undertaken by the course’s coordinator, Gail Vanstone,” said Michael Mitchie, associate dean, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies.
Afua Cooper reading: Copper Woman (Natural Heritage Books, 2006) – Sept. 21
A professor of history at the University of Toronto, Cooper is an award-winning writer of non-fiction, history and poetry and a renowned scholar in African-Canadian history. A recent winner of the Harry Jerome Award for Professional Excellence, Cooper was also chosen by the editors of Essence magazine in Oct. 2005 as one of the 25 women who are shaping the world. Cooper’s poems have been anthologized in national and international publications and translated into several languages. She has published five books of poetry, including the award-winning Memories Have Tongue (1992). Her newest book of poetry is Copper Woman, a work in which she attempts to bring together the personal and the political, the exoteric and the esoteric.
Margaret Christakos reading: Sooner (Coach House Books, 2005) – Oct. 5
An alumna of York University, Christakos earned a BFA in visual arts and creative writing in 1985. Christakos is a poet and fiction writer and has published six collections of poetry and one novel. Predominant themes in her work include subjectivity, gender, desire, technology, parenting, autobiographical narrative strategies and bisexuality. Coach House describes her most recent collection Sooner as “the percussive music of a keen mind tuned to all of its stations at once, a poetry of impetuosity and composure, of ambient life and arousals of taste, of perambulation and possibility”.
Betsy Warland reading: Only This Blue (Mercury Press, 2005) – Oct. 19
Warland was born in Iowa and studied art and education at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. Since emigrating to Canada in 1973, Warland has been active as a poet, writer, educator and editor. She is the director of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University and has taught creative writing at various writing schools. In Only This Blue, Warland evokes startling yet often stunning moments and enlists her reader in the intrigue of this altered state of consciousness that occurs when one is faced by a life-threatening crisis. Warland explores the resulting disorientation and re-vision that alters not only our sensations but perceptions of the normally unremarkable bits of the everyday.
John Unrau reading: Iced Water (Salmon Press, 2000) – Nov. 2
Unrau was born in Saskatoon in 1941. A Rhodes scholar at Oxford, he received his DPhil in 1969. He is a professor of English in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies at York University. His books include Iced Water (2000), The Balancing of the Clouds (1991), Ruskin and St. Mark’s (1984), and Looking at Architecture with Ruskin (1978).
Shauna Singh Baldwin reading: The Tiger Claw (Knopf Canada, 2004) – Nov. 16
Singh Baldwin was born in Montreal and grew up in India. She is the author of English Lessons and Other Stories and the novels What the Body Remembers and The Tiger Claw. Her short fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in literary magazines in the US, Canada and India. Her first novel, What the Body Remembers, was published in 1999 and has been translated into 11 languages. It was awarded the 2000 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, Canada/Caribbean region. The Tiger Claw, published in 2004, was nominated for Canada’s prestigious Giller Prize.
Joseph Boyden reading: Three Day Road (Penguin Books, 2005) – Nov. 30
Boyden, who studied creative writing at York University (BA ’91) and the University of New Orleans, has taught in the Aboriginal student programs at Northern College of applied Arts & Technology and has held various writing residencies. He divides his time between Ontario and Louisiana, where he teaches in the creative writing program at the University of New Orleans. Boyden is a Canadian with Irish, Scottish and Metis roots. Three Day Road has received the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award and has also been shortlisted for the Governor General Award for Fiction. The book was also included in the 2006 Canada Reads series aired on CBC Radio. He is the author of Born with a Tooth (2001), a collection of stories that was shortlisted for the Upper Canada Writer’s Craft Award.
Andrew Pyper reading: The Wildfire Season (HarperCollins, 2005) – Jan. 11
Pyper, born in Stratford, Ont., received a BA and MA in English literature from McGill University in Montreal and a law degree from the University of Toronto. His works include The Wildfire Season (2005), The Trade Mission (2002), Lost Girls (1999), winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel in 2000, and the short-story collection Kiss Me (1996).
Wayson Choy reading: All that Matters (Doubleday Canada, 2004) – Jan. 25
Choy was born in Vancouver in 1939 and studied creative writing at the University of British Columbia. He taught in Toronto at Humber College and the Humber School for Writers from 1967 until 2004. His novels include All That Matters (2004), shortlisted for the Giller Prize, and The Jade Peony (1995), winner of the Trillium Book Award and the City of Vancouver Book Award. He is also the author of Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood (1999) which won the Edna Staebler Creative Non-Fiction Award. In 2006 he became a member of the Order of Canada.
Marilyn Dumont reading: green girl dreams Mountains (Ooilchan Books, 2001) – Feb. 8
Dumont is of Cree and Metis ancestry. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. Her first collection of poetry, A Really Good Brown Girl (1996), was awarded the 1997 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and her second collection, green girl dreams Mountains (2001), won the 2001 Alberta Book Award for Poetry. She has taught creative writing at British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University and Kwantlen University College.
Lisa Moore reading: Alligator (House of Anansi Press, 2005) – March 1
Moore is a novelist and short story writer who lives in St. John’s, Nfld., with her family. She studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and has written for television and radio, as well as for national newspapers. Moore’s Open (2002) was a finalist for the 2002 Giller Prize and a national bestseller, and her work has also appeared in Canada’s most prestigious literary magazines. Moore writes a biweekly column in The Globe and Mail.
Camilla Gibb reading: Sweetness in the Belly (Doubleday Canada, 2005) – March 15
Gibb was born in England and grew up in Toronto where she currently resides. She studied at the University of Toronto and Oxford University in the UK, and is currently the vice-president of PEN Canada. She is the author of three novels, numerous short stories, articles and reviews, winner of the Trillium Book Award in 2006, a Giller Prize nominee in 2005, winner of the City of Toronto Book Award in 2000 and the recipient of the CBC Canadian Literary Award for short fiction in 2001. Her books have been published in 18 countries and translated into 14 languages and she was named by the jury of the prestigious Orange Prize as one of 21 writers to watch in the new century.
Larissa Lai reading: Salt Fish Girl (Thomas Allen, 2002) – March 29
Lai was born in California in 1967. She grew up in Newfoundland, and has since lived in Vancouver and Calgary. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and is working on her PhD at the University of Calgary. Her books include Salt Fish Girl (2002) and When Fox is a Thousand (1995), which was shortlisted for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award. She is currently at work on her third novel titled, “The Corrupted Text”.
Now entering its eighth year, the series showcases some of Canada’s best literary talent. The Canadian Writers in Person Series is sponsored by the Master’s Office and the School of Arts & Letters of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, and a host of other sponsors including support from Canada Council.
For more information on the series, visit the Canadian Writers in Person Web site.