Sunday, April 14, 2013
Writing and Community
On Friday afternoon I flew to Prince George, where I had been invited to read as part of the 3rd annual John Harris Award. This was an honour, as John Harris is someone I admire, not only for his fine book of fiction, Small Rain (1989), but for his work as an educator and, because of his commitment to education, a reformer.
Shortly after my arrival I learned of a "poetry war" that has divided the city's writing community, a division not unrelated to the division that has always existed between the College of New Caledonia (where Harris and another senior member of the PG writing community, Barry McKinnon, taught for many years) and the University of Northern British Columbia, which opened its doors in the 1990s.
While it is not my place to describe this division (click here for an ex-pat's take), I do think it unfortunate that differences amongst writers often results not in an expanded conversation but the absence of conversation altogether. Hopefully someone in PG will publish an essay on just what these differences are and how they might be embraced and returned to the larger conversation that is writing and community.
In the meantime, congratulations to this year's recipient of the John Harris Award -- A. Warren Johnson -- and a thank you to Graham Pearce for inviting me.