Over 70 Poets to Confer at Vancouver 125


Vancouver celebrates a big birthday this year. The grande dame is 125, but she still looks pretty lush and gorgeous. That’s what years of proper moisturizing, via rain, will do to a gal. Last weekend, July 8th-10th, the city hosted Summer Live, with dynamite concerts in Stanley Park (Neko Case, Said the Whale, Dan Mangan, The New Pornographers, the VSO and, need I say, many more), family activities, sports, performances and piping hot bags of mini donuts.

Along with this celebration and a slew of other events, like Viva Vancouver, the city streets transformed into fun public spaces project (more on this in an upcoming post), public art, murals and talks and performances all around town there’s a literary vibe being added to the festive mix. It was announced this week that Vancouver will host a hell of a poetry party, with the Vancouver 125 Poetry Conference from October 19-22 at SFU downtown.

Local lovelies will word-mingle with Canadian poets from across the country and international poets as well. Over 70 poets will gather over four days and nights to engage with each other in seminars, discussions, perform in nighttime cabarets and to participate in a general onslaught of poetry-filled days. And at the end of the poetic delights Vancouver’s new poet laureate, who will replace outgoing laureate, Brad Cran, will be announced on Sunday October 22.

The conference is focused on the celebration and exploration of the new generation of poets, defined as those who’ve published their first books after 1990. This is an interesting and take in such a large-scale event, the type that would usually be populated by the old guard who’ve been on the festival and conference circuit together for many years. It might seem like a novel idea to engage with ‘the new generation of poets’, but it shouldn’t be. While everyone’s been taught to respect their elders there’s nothing disrespectful about encouraging new poetic voices and engaging an eclectic group of writers in discourse and dialogue.

I’m not the first person to write about Vancouver 125 Poetry Conference and so far I’ve seen overwhelming support and ‘Likes’ and shares on Facebook, Twitter and yes, new kid on the block (no Backstreet Boys in sight) Google+. A whole lot of social media loving. Of course, haters gonna hate and two of the four people who felt moved enough to comment on the Globe and Mail article were strangely rage-filled and judgmental. That anyone has so much vitriol directed at poets, poetry and the concept of this conference seems to make it even more relevant:

The Man! – 9:29 PM on July 13, 2011

Hopefully more than 15 people will show up to this–that’s if there isn’t the competition of watching paint dry happening on the same nights.

AntonioSan – 10:38 AM on July 14, 2011

As if we need more of the puffed up arrogant olympic opener…

However, the other two commenters had a much more optimistic view of what poetry and this conference can be to Vancouver, British Columbia, and, well, all sorts of people.

Longboard Daddy-o – 12:22 AM on July 15, 2011

Brad Cran had done himself proud as BC poet Laureate. One small note I do recall a significant poetry event coinciding with Expo 86 in Vancouver at the site of Canada Place that saw 1,000 people attend a night of reading that included Dorothy Livesay amongst many others. I hope there can be some sort of Vancouver/BC historic/current perspective/context for this upcoming event. Thanks for your work Brad.

Grant Shilling

(In response to the clearly fishing for compliments, The Man!)

Bonyloft  – 1:28 AM on July 14, 2011

What a cynical thing to say.

Poetry forever.

While we’ll have to wait to see what how the conference plays out, it looks to be an invigorating week. Yes, people can celebrate with words, with poetry even. A heart-warming thought. So, Vancouver, you sly old girl, what better way to celebrate your glamorous aging than with a sweet line-up of amazing poets. If some mini-donuts were served, I’d say this could be the perfect event.

For more information on Vancouver 125 celebrations and events, go here. For more information on the Vancouver 125 Poetry Conference, click here, and to look at the schedule and plan your poetic attendance tactics, here.

The conference is presented in partnership with the Office of the Poet Laureate of the City of Vancouver, The City of Vancouver, Simon Fraser University’s Writing and Publishing Program, The Vancouver International Writers Festival, The Vancouver Public Library and the Listel Hotel.