The Author in Residence program allows us to bring an outstanding Canadian writer into our community to work with people here, to gather and exchange, to contribute knowledge and experience, and to refresh the perspective on the ground with word from elsewhere, and in doing so it made an immeasurable contribution to the university’s mandate, both within the university community of thought and practice, and in the larger writing community, the arts community, and the cultural life of the city and the province. With support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Office of Public Engagement Quick Start fund, the Department of English hosted acclaimed poet and editor John Barton as our Fall 2015 Writer in Residence. While spending approximately 60% of his time here working on original poems, John was also extremely generous in terms of community service and enriched both our university programs and cultural life as well as the cultural life of the city and province by his presence here. He managed more than a full slate of over thirty consultations with writers from the community and university writing programs, and was, as we anticipated he would be, a kind, considerate, intuitive, and effective mentor to writers across the full spectrum of experience. He made a number of class visits to courses offered in our Creative Writing Program here in St. John’s and at Memorial’s Grenfell Campus. He also gave a series of (oversubscribed) seminars and workshops: Putting Your Iambic Foot Forward: Literary Magazine Publishing Today; Putting Yourself on the Line: How to Negotiate the Poetic Line (offered twice due to demand); and finally, Queer Prospects, a round table on the changing pitch of queer writing today which we were especially glad to see offered to the writing community here in St. John’s. We see this as a new partnership that we hope will continue and grow with future readings and workshop events. In addition to these seminar/workshops, John was invited by the NL Editors group to give a talk on the editing of poetry. Approaching the task with his usual thoughtful engagement, John prepared for his talk by composing a very fine 6000 word essay, “Inside the Blind: On Editing Poetry,” which draws on his long experience as an editor at the Malahat Review, and which will doubtless be available in published form soon. During his Residency John also gave four well attended readings: at Memorial’s St. John’s campus; in Corner Brook, as part of his visit to Memorial’s Grenfell Campus; at a group reading of local writers in downtown St. John’s; and (with Anna Swanson) at a reading event organized by Memorial’s Queen Elizabeth 2 Library.
Canada Council For The Arts
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences