Balderdash Reading with Urquhart, Jong, and Swan

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Tucked inside the Wilfred Laurier Library is the quaint Robert Langen Art Gallery, which on Thursday February 9th was the location for  the Balderdash Reading Series hosted by Sanchari Sur. The Balderdash Reading Series is monthly  event which aims to represent and celebrate culture, art and academics. This was a public reading featuring three talented writers, Emily Urquhart, Tamara Jong, and Dane Swan. At five past seven, the presentation began.

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The first reader, Emily Urquhart, is a non-fiction writer who has received many awards for her work, including the Globe and Mail Best Book 2015, a National Magazine award, BC Book Prize as well as Kobo First Book Award. She is Laurier’s current writer in residence and during Thursday night’s reading, she presented a piece which she said was inspired by the brave students who had came to see her. “If they can do it, well then maybe so can I” she stated. Her piece was new work, still unedited and raw with emotion. The creative non-fiction piece which was an excerpt from an essay she’d been working on was about her brother’s sudden death which haunted her for many years to follow.

The second reader of the night was Tamara Jong, who is a non-fiction writer. Her work has appeared in The New Quarterly, Ricepaper, and Room. She read her short story that she had written four years ago entitled “Kindergarten Tales”. She described the piece as “kind funny and a kinda sad”. The piece ranged from her childhood and the difficulty’s of tying her shoe, to her adult life and her loss of faith.

The last reader of the night, Dane Swan, is a short story writer and poet, he has published two poetry collects and a short story collection. Swan was soft spoken when first walking up to the microphone to introduce himself and his pieces. Yet, once he delved into the pieces, he became passionate, his voice boomed and his hands gestured wildly as he spoke. In one particularly emotional section he yelled out “you!” and pointed an accusing finger at the audience which was very effective. The passion brought his work to life and proved that the poet is his own best sales man.

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After the readings, there was a short Q and A section with the authors. The audience had many questions ranging from their inspiration, difficulty with publishers and their view on other arts. Overall there was a positive reaction from the audience.

Photos and Article by Emma Davis, First Year, English and Film Studies

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Emily Urquhart, Staebler Writer-In Residence Inaugural Talk

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On January 23rd,  2018 non-fiction writer, journalist, and the Edna Staebler Writer-in-Residence for Winter 2018, Emily Urquhart, kicked off her residency with her inaugural public talk in the Hawk’s Nest. In her talk, entitled “True Stories: Narrative Non-Fiction from Cave Painting to Podcasting,” Urquhart discussed the ways in which storytelling has, and has not evolved throughout human history. She gave a fascinating account of how her daughter’s albinism led her to write her memoir, Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes. 

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There were times in her life when being isolated in a foreign country or in a small city, or having to be at home as a mother with a young child actually forced her to find new ways to find books, write, and interact intellectually with the world.

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Photos by Katherine Bell

Also a folklorist, Urquhart engaged the audience with folkloric traditions at Laurier, such as the “don’t walk on the hawk” mentality and “Silent Seven” in the library. However, she also mentioned some less obvious ones, like the story behind an archived photo hanging in Wilf’s. She also gave personal anecdotes about her travels and journalistic endeavours. At the end, there was a question and answer period, in which the audience primarily discussed podcasts and even shared some of their favourite ones amongst each other.

Overall, the event was a great success, and we look forward to more in the coming months of Urquhart’s residency!

By: Manreet Lachhar

Outside People By Mariam Pirbhai: Book Launch

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On November 2, 2017, Veritas Café was packed with faculty, students, and members of the community for the launch of Professor Mariam Pirbhai’s collection of short stories, Outside People and Other Stories, published by Inanna Publications in Toronto.

Two student writers opened the evening’s festivities. Jenna Hazzard, whose short story was recently a runner-up in Elle magazine’s national writing competition, read a humorous episode from the opening pages of her novella-in-progress, set in a library just after New Year’s Eve. Jenna’s reading  prompted one longtime library employee to say that she hit the mark with all her details. Kyleen McGragh performed two of her poems, “”Exhale” and “Parasite.” Both poems were recently published in FreeLit magazine, and Kyleen gave a riveting and bold recitation.

 

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Professor Pirbhai graciously thanked her colleagues, students, and especially, her Latin American friends for their support. Her stories, she noted, were about the invisible rather than the “visible” minorities in Canada. They are not just about immigrants, but about the domestic worker, temporary migrant labourers, those who are left behind and whose families are fractured because of globalization.

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She began by reading an excerpt from “Air Raids,” featuring a modern Muslim woman’s would-be sexual encounter with an airline steward during his stopover in Montreal. Set against the backdrop of a protest against a Quebec bill banning religious symbols, the story is rich with the voices of English, French, Pakistani, Jewish, and Arabic people.

Her second excerpt, “Chicken Catchers,” was based on the horrific car accident which killed ten migrant workers and the truck driver near Stratford in the winter of 2012. The victims were from Peru, five who had only recently arrived. Pirbhai’s story focuses on the inter-ethnic friendship between a Peruvian and a Jamaican worker, and may lead us to question Canadian habits of consuming chicken, particularly our preference for chicken breasts.

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She ended with a funny story, “Crossing Over,” about a woman from Mumbai’s consternation about having to perform inelegant and unfeminine manoeuvers in the family car in order to attend a dinner party in Halifax in winter.

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Outside People has been praised as a “stunning debut.”

Photos and Story by Eleanor Ty

Balderdash Reading Series, October 2017

 

The Balderdash Reading Series, organized by English and Film Studies PhD candidate, Sanchari Sur, held its second event for the fall at the Robert Langen Art Gallery on October 26, 2017.

Pasha Malla

Pasha Malla, Laurier’s Writer-in-Residence for fall, read an amusing extract from Fugue States in which the narrator describes an attempt at skiing with homemade skis and boots.  We are left hanging, wondering if the boots stayed on the intrepid skier.

Jagtar Kaur

Jagtar Kaur Atwal, from Cambridge, read an autobiographical poem about the difficulty of speaking in an alien tongue: “Writing has been like walking in knee-deep mud for my fear of rejection.”  She finds strength in another kind of voice, a silenced one.

Tanis

Tanis MacDonald read from a recent issue of Arc Magazine and poems yet unpublished.  She shared her poem outlining a professor’s thoughts while invigilating an exam. Apparently, MacDonald has reflected on birds, especially finches, while students are writing their exams.

Canisia

Canisia Lubrin read from Voodoo Hypothesis and reminds us that “black isn’t always a void.” Meditating on the many recent hurricanes that have hit the Caribbean, Lubrin writes, “We return to burn or bury what we have lost…” when nature swallows “things many times the size of our earth.”

 

A great event with talented voices…

Balderdash Reading Series runs with the generous support of the Graduate Student Association.  It holds monthly readings with new and established writers, often featuring works by writers published in the New Quarterly.

Story  by  Eleanor Ty

Photos by  Darin White

 

LUJA Launch 2017

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Over 40 students and faculty members attended the launch of the new issue of Laurier Undergraduate Journal of the Arts on October 25, 2017 at the Robert Langen Gallery in the library.  A number of English and Film Studies students served on the management board responsible for the first issue of 2017.  They included: Mitchell Kooh, Mynt Marsellus, Esther Brockett, Brittney Tessier, Carina Rampelt, Madeline McInnis, and Vidish Parikh.  This issue includes articles on a wide range of topics, including, Disney films Wall-E and Tangled,  Tomson Highway,  the repatriation program used by International organizations,  changing demographics in Japan,  the constructedness of female orgasms, and non-binary identities. Mynt Marsellus noted that LUJA received over 200 submissions, and it was difficult for the editors to choose ten essays.

Richard Nemesvari, the Dean of Arts, expressed his delight and approbation of extra-curricular activities such as LUJA because they were a good form of experiential learning and a testament to the intellectual work happening at Laurier.

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Organizer and this year’s Editor, Angela James welcomed the new crew who would take over the Management of LUJA.

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It was an enjoyable evening, with good food, exquisite music, and even prizes for the audience.

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LUJA is funded by the Arts Undergraduate Society at Laurier.

Photos and  story by Eleanor Ty

 

Post humanism Guest Speaker: Nandita Biswas Mellamphy

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Dr. Nandita Biswas Mellamphy (Political Science, Western) presented a lecture called “Apps: Approaching Postman Politics” to a small but eager crowd at noon on October 19, 2017 at Hawk’s Nest.

Dr. Mellamphy warned that the allure of digital connectivity has morphed our society into one governed by Big Data, where humans have become datafied.  Posthuman governance is replacing human-centered systems.  For examples, weapons now operate efficiently without human intervention.

In our daily lives, we exist under a Panopticon and our activities have become permanently visible to data collectors, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.  Social norms have been re-engineered for data collection and are subject to be digitally compromised.

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Dr. Mellamphy’s talk was sponsored by the Posthuman Research Network.

Photos and report by  Eleanor Ty

English Students “Meet the Profs” Night

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Laurier’s English Students Association organized a “Meet the Profs” night at the Hawk’s Nest on Monday, October 2, 2017.

A literary guessing game was organized by Manreet Lachhar and co-VP of Events, Tess Campbell. The names of well-known literary texts and characters were supposed to be very familiar, but managed to stump a few professors and our Dean of Arts.

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Student Association President Chance LeJeune welcomed everyone and there were treats and special way to make s’mores.  A few brave souls dressed up for the photo booth.

It was a fun gathering and a nice way to meet students and colleagues.

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Photos courtesy of Mhairi Chandler.