Atkinson series provides creative forum for writers

“Blue fish steals light” – to the average person this phrase may seem odd, even grammatically incorrect, but to writers from Atkinson’s Readings at Noon series the phrase is rich with potential symbolism and meaning. For over 25 years faculty, staff and students have gathered to share their creative works with the University community, turning ordinary words into poems and stories that span across a wide variety of topics and landscapes.

The series provides an open forum for established, aspiring and closet writers wishing to present their work publicly or to listen supportively to the work of others. It was founded by Claudio Duran, Atkinson philosophy professor and distinguished Chilean poet, and Ned Hagerman, professor of history. The group meets on Wednesdays once a month during the academic year in Room 005C, Atkinson Building, which is adjacent to the Harry Leith Room. Well over 100 participants from York and beyond complement a steady core membership.

“The success of the group may rest in part in its friendly encouragement over the years of new voices seeking a comfortable, informal venue,” says Hagerman. “Some have found it to be a refuge, an uncritical and accepting place to write and to read.”

All readings take place from 12 to 2pm with an open stage and a selection of featured readers. The series will kick off this year on Nov. 29, with Carolyn Clink, Hagerman and David Mills.

Clink has been attending the series for two years, enjoying the encouraging environment it offers writers. “The series offers poets a supportive group to read your work in front of. You have the opportunity to practise your readings and work on timing and presentation in a completely non-threatening atmosphere. It also allows students to hear accomplished poets read and the chance to read their own poems,” says Clink.

Clink writes both mainstream and speculative poetry. She has published works in several periodicals, including Northern Frights, Tesseracts, Analog, Hart House Review, White Wall Review and The Dalhousie Review. She has been Poet Guest-of-Honour at five science-fiction conventions, including Eeriecon III in Niagara Falls, NY; Minicon 38 in Minneapolis, MN; and Context XII in Columbus, OH. She is also a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and the Algonquin Square Table poetry workshop.

Hagerman is Professor Emeritus of History at York University, and co-founder of the series. He has published in numerous Canadian magazines dating from the 1970s, including Descant, Impulse, Waves, Black Moss, Trinity Quarterly, The Canadian Forum, Saturday Night and The Dalhousie Review. He is currently involved with David Clink and Ian Burgham in founding The Rowers Pub Reading Series, a new reading series at Rowers Pub on Harbord Street in Toronto.

Mills has been reading with the Readings at Noon group for seven years and has worked in York’s Admissions Office for 18 years. He began writing seriously at the age of 10. Unable to secure a literary agent, he turned to short stories, satirical pieces and non-fiction. He came to poetry much later, finding that it suited his busier lifestyle much better, although he continues to work on the great Canadian novel.

Other readings this year include:

  • Jan. 3 – Jacob Scheier, Megan Swaine
  • Feb. 28 -TBA
  • March 28 – Louise Ripley
  • April 11 – David Clink, Claudio Duran

For more information or to get involved with the series, contact David Clink at