Category: Debate

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CanLit: From Calcified to Cape Town

by André Forget

If you look up Canadian literature on Wikipedia, you get what at first seems to be a sardonic little truism: “Canadian literature is literature originating from Canada.” Of course it is, you think—what else would it be? Scratch the surface even a little, though, and this truism turns up a whole mess of questions.

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Where We Are: The Place of “Place” In Contemporary Canadian Writing

by André Forget

There is, I must admit, something a little soporific about this title. Those even remotely aware of the history of Canadian literature will know that “place” is, supposedly, our great literary obsession—the focus of many tedious monographs and book-length studies and seminars that talk about the vastness of the Canadian landscape, the existential anxieties facing vulnerable humans in an indifferent wilderness,

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Boyden’s The Orenda: All Bets Are Off

by Julienne Isaacs

You’ll forget. There’ll be lightning, then the sun will push out like an egg,
metallic and hard, before receding into redness. You won’t sleep long.
In the morning, the Battle River will sparkle nearly white,
a colour you recognize but it’s too much, your eyes can’t take that much brightness.

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Kisses of Acadian and Gobs of Québécois

by Tyler Willis

This post originally appeared on The Town Crier on April 12, 2014, five days after the Québec general election of 2014 gave Phillipe Couillard’s federalist Liberal Party a majority government. It was a response to Denise Duhamel’s poem, “Zou Bisou Bisou.”

When Megan Draper sang “Zou Bisou Bisou” on Mad Men,

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Calling Out “The Ballad of Ferguson”

by E Martin Nolan

Frederick Seidel wrote a frown-inducing poem. There were some moments, you could argue, but ultimately, it was random and directionless. Not a great poem, but who cares? To apply a quote from the poem itself, you’d do well to “forget about about about it.”

Except he titled it, “The Ballad of Ferguson, Missouri,” and The Paris Review published it online in the midst of the post-Michael Brown uproar,

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Journalese vs. Poetic Language

by Lisa Pasold

Palestinian-American poet and journalist Sharif S. Elmusa has written, “Language under authoritarian regimes rusts, turns dull, loses its edge and luster.” Sadly, this rust isn’t limited to authoritarian regimes. The language of our Canadian media is also rusting—to the extent that whole segments of the machinery have fallen away and left Journalese.

Bluntly,

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Reading Online: Literary Publishing in a Digital World

by André Forget

Arguments about reading in print versus reading online have been both ubiquitous and tedious for some time now. On one side of the argument, books like Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows have warned us of what reading online is doing to our attention spans, in the same way oral bards likely once lamented the damaging effect text was having on our ability to memorize.

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A Warning to Toronto Writers: Networks Don’t Make Literature

by Julienne Isaacs

It doesn’t matter where you live: being human is difficult. The writer’s task is to transcribe the difficulty.

On a recent trip to Toronto, I was told half a dozen times by both strangers and friends that nothing would aid my career more than a move to that great Canadian literary Mecca. For a few days I waffled,

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Adam See’s Political Convictions in the Classroom

by André Forget

Adam See, adjunct instructor at Brooklyn College, wrote an open letter to his students in the October issue of The Walrus in which he explains his philosophy of teaching. Specifically, he speaks about how he cannot pretend—and more importantly, shouldn’t pretend—to be objective about his progressive political convictions. His argument,

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The White Hand That Feeds

by André Forget

About a year ago, I was asked to help moderate a community conference in Halifax that had been organized to brainstorm ideas for Canada’s upcoming sesquicentennial in 2017.  I was a grad student, and they were paying a hundred bucks for a morning’s work and providing a free lunch; naturally, I agreed. Held at what can only be described as an unconscionably early hour on a Tuesday morning,