Uppal’s poetry intrigues Griffin prize judges

From an unprecedented 483 submissions, the shortlist for this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize was finally narrowed down to seven writers, six of whom happen to be men, wrote the National Post April 4. The judges named Priscila Uppal, professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, among the finalists for the Canadian shortlist, for her book, Ontological Necessities (Exile Editions).

The Post also cited part of what the judges said: " ‘Who are you?’ one of Priscila Uppal’s poems keeps asking itself. Are you the oyster shell of the new millennium, the sundial waitress in her two-bit automobile with a licence to fish, the wristwatch of the nation, the woman’s shelter of the soul? The poems in Ontological Necessities are all that and much more."

When it comes to literary awards in this country, said the Post, the Griffin may be relatively new on the scene, but it’s quickly ascending the ranks in popularity, with poetry readings that have gone from small crowds of 150 in its first year to over 800 people at a sold-out event last year. Its trustees include big-name authors like Margaret Atwood and [Glendon English Professor] Michael Ondaatje, and the awards ceremony itself rivals even the Gillers in glitz and glam — perhaps something to do with the fact that Elana Rabinovitch, daughter of Giller prize founder Jack, happens to also be the publicist for the Griffin. 

  • The Globe and Mail and CBC.ca also did substantive stories on the shortlist April 4. Each focused on the question, as the Globe put it, will it be third time lucky for Don McKay?
    The veteran Canadian poet, noted the paper, was short-listed for the third time in the Canadian division of the annual Griffin Poetry Prize,

Bowman helping with Stax CD reissue series

It’s a long way from Memphis to Toronto’s York University. Miles apart and of very different culture and heritage, there’s one strong link, though: the world’s foremost expert on the great music of Stax Records teaches there, wrote the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal April 4 in a review of Stax 50th Anniversary Collection (Universal).

Rob Bowman, professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, has written the book on Stax, the fabulous Soulsville U.S.A., as well as the booklets for many of the reissued box sets from the Memphis label’s archives. His role as co-producer of this fine anniversary collection bodes well for its quality. The Stax catalogue is undergoing a major revamping, thanks to new owners. Wisely, they’ve brought Bowman on board to start things off with this deluxe double-disc of hits.

Feds invest $900-million in aerospace sector

Bernie Wolf, a professor of economics in York’s Schulich School of Business, was interviewed by host Beverly Thomson, about a $900-million federal loan to Canada’s aerospace industry on CTV’s “Canada AM” April 3. Below is a partial transcript of his comments.

Thomson: Well, how should Canadians see this? Is this something that is necessary for the industry and thereby a good thing for the country? Or is it something specifically aimed at getting votes in Quebec?

Wolf: Oh, I think it’s both. I mean, yes, the Tories or whoever is in power certainly want votes in Quebec. But besides that, whereas I don’t really favour these kinds of basically what amounts to a subsidy – although the way they’ve structured it it’s a loan – basically in the aerospace industry it’s done all over the world. The Europeans do it, the Brazilians do it, the Americans do it, so we need to be competitive.

You know, I travel pretty well the world as a professor of international business [Wolf continued]. And when I see the kind of infrastructure that we have elsewhere, compared to what we have here, there’s almost no city that doesn’t have rapid transit from its airport to downtown. I mean a really fast train…. We don’t have a high-speed link between Montreal and Toronto…. We also need to put more money into education. And we’ve been very slow to do these things. And then it takes us forever to decide something. And after that it takes us forever to implement it. If you look at the Chinese, they make up their mind they’re going to do it, they do it. We procrastinate. And we’re going to be left behind.

New inductees in York’s sports hall of fame

Four former university athletes and one builder will be inducted into the York University Sport Hall of Fame during a dinner and ceremony next month, wrote the North York Mirror April 3. Former football coach Nobby Wirkowski and athletes Trish (Barnes) Stone (BA ’85), Paula Lockyer (BA ’86), Gary MacDonald (BSc ’79) and David Steeper (BSc ’79) were all named in an item that also noted the Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony takes place May 31 at the Montecassino Banquet Hall in Woodbridge.

Bullying is a community issue

Debra Pepler, a professor at York University’s LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution, was the keynote speaker at the third national conference on bullying, safer schools and safer communities April 3, wrote The Ottawa Sun April 4. Pepler is the founder of Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network, a federally funded program that works to promote safe and healthy relationships among Canadian youth.

"We’re really trying to change professional practice around how teachers deal with youth, how we train parents to deal with kids, how we get coaches to be positive as opposed to being bullying towards their kids," said Pepler. "We are forced to look beyond the school and recognize that bullying is not a school issue – it’s a community issue, a societal issue," said Pepler. "We need to deal with bullying issues in every setting."

Tories flunk early childhood education test

Early Years Study 2: Putting Science Into Action, by internationally renowned child development expert Dr. Fraser Mustard, Margaret Norrie McCain and Stuart Shanker of York’s Faculty of Health, is a 185-page follow-up report to the groundbreaking 1999 Early Years Study: Reversing the Real Brain Drain commissioned by the former Ontario government, wrote the Winnipeg Free Press April 4. Released last week, and largely ignored by the media, the report places Canada’s haphazard efforts at early childhood education at the very bottom of all 30 nations in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

City has grand plans for new Acceleride program

The first of nearly 100 AcceleRide buses are expected to start rolling in Brampton in September 2010, wrote the Brampton Guardian April 4. The Phase One route that should take two years to completely implement will run from the downtown bus terminal east along Queen Street to York Region, and south along Main Street to Mississauga. It will connect to York University and the Spadina subway line into Toronto, the Vaughan business centre, Mississauga city centre and GO Transit to Toronto.

Canucks pull strings in Hollywood

Expert puppeteers and former York students Jason Hopley and Jamie Shannon, both 36, have just inked a deal with Disney that will keep their fingers doing a lot of high-profile talking, wrote the Toronto Star April 4. The monkey puppets of Shannon’s and Hopley’s creation named Ooh and Aah started this weekend as the new hosts of Playhouse Disney. The pudgy primate brothers, who aren’t in Canada yet, will also be featured in videos that play during lineups for rides at Disney theme parks. And, Hopley and Shannon returned last week from the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles where they worked the orange carpet as Josh and Parker, the stars of “Mr. Meaty”.