New Videos: Six Poets at Sixty Years of Canadian Literature

For many of us in the field of literary writing and criticism, early June is typically a time for coming together at Congress in the company of our various communities to share in the exciting exchange of words and ideas. While things are different this year with the unfortunate cancellation of an in-person Congress due to the Covid-19 pandemic, moving critical dialogues online has facilitated exchanges virtually around the pressing 2020 theme “Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism.”

One year ago at this time, Canadian Literature celebrated its sixtieth anniversary during Congress 2019 here at UBC. To mark the milestone, we hosted a poetry reading featuring six innovative writers who have contributed to our history as journal and who continue to shape our ongoing dialogues and future directions in Canadian literature: Jordan AbelSonnet L’AbbéDaphne MarlattCecily NicholsonShazia Hafiz Ramji, and Rita Wong. As we reflect on how much the world has both changed and not changed since then—and on the crucial role literature will continue to play in analyzing and articulating our responses to a rapidly changing world now and in the days to come—it is an ideal time to mark the one-year anniversary of that event by sharing the words of these poets on our website.

We are excited to present here videos of the series of readings that took place on June 1, 2019, in the Coach House of UBC’s Green College, on the unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of the Musqueam people. Introduced by our Associate Editor Nicholas Bradley, and emceed by our Poetry Editor Phinder Dulai, the standing-room-only event was both a joyous celebration of poetry and the journal, and a welcome opportunity for critical, creative dialogue about some of the most insistent challenges that constitute Canada’s present and the landscape of Canadian literature. We hope you will enjoy viewing these poets’ readings now as much as we enjoyed hosting it a year ago.

We will be highlighting one video per week for the next six weeks. We begin with Sonnet L’Abbé.