Literary History Author Spotlight: Maidie Hilmo

Maidie Hilmo publishes extensively on Canadian writing and art as well as on illustrated medieval English manuscripts.

She is especially interested in the ways in which words and images can inform each other to create a multilayered experience.

When she taught English, Creative Writing, and Art History at Northern Lights College, she was co-founder of Treeline Press, which featured local talent and the writings of established Canadian poets, including bill bissett, who gave readings to enthusiastic audiences in northern British Columbia. She has edited two books on the dynamically charged works of Canadian artist Carle Hessay, including For Kelly, With Love: Poems on the Abstracts of Carle Hessay (2014). In this lavishly illustrated book fellow Canadian poets completed a project Kelly was unable to before she passed away from cancer, to write short poems inspired by specially chosen small Hessay abstract paintings. Maidie has just finished editing a new publication by one of those poets, Karen Ballinger, whose The Door Creaks Open is forthcoming this year.

Her most recent medieval studies include two forthcoming articles on the Pearl-Gawain manuscript following her request to the British Library for a detailed scientific analysis of the pigments of the miniatures and the text of these important poems. This led to the discovery that the scribe was likely also the artist of the underdrawings (Journal of the Early Book Society, vol. 20 and Manuscript Studies, Fall 2018).

Maidie is the author of “Sounding a Canadian Icon: an Interview with bill bissett.”

Article Abstract:

A Canadian pioneer in sound poetry and concrete poetry, bill bissett hardly needs an introduction. His writing awards, honorary degrees, list of readings, not to mention his innumerable publications over the decades are too long to mention here. He is a consummate performer of his poetry in every kind of venue. What is unique about this interview is that he recorded his answers on his iPad using his own phonetic spelling. This preserves the poetic rhythms of his speech and encourages the reader to slow down and to sound out his words, creating another kind of performance.

Topics covered concern the source of his poetry, his place as a forerunner in concrete and sound poetry, his innovative practice of breaking down language into its phonetic components, his use of a rattle and ritual sounds, his thoughts on the creative possibilities of computer technologies, his drawings in relation to his poetry, the role humour plays in his writing and art, his recent book and new paintings, and his philosophy about art and life.

Canadian Literature issue 233, Literary History, is available to order through our online store.