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Alice Major video

A lovely short video by Mark Power celebrating Alice’s achievements so far….

Alice Major — Poet
2010 ATCO Lifetime Achievement Award
Edmonton Mayor’s Evening of the Arts

Producer: PACE Edmonton
Director: Mark G. Power
Director of Photography: Ben Coxworth
Editor: Mark Power

Please read UAP Editor Peter Midgley’s sincere account of the 2010 Edmonton Mayor’s Evening of the Arts, where Alice received the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement.

A Night of Poetry with Robert Kroetsch and Jenna Butler

A vibrant crowd gathered to hear Robert Kroestch and Jenna Butler read on March 25 at Greenwoods in Edmonton.

I had a blast introducing Robert, who made us all laugh when he said most people simply said, “And here’s a man who needs no introduction.” How much more simple would that have been? (However, I had to say something, if only to match Paul Matwychuk of NeWest, who did a wonderful job of starting things off for Jenna’s reading.)

I so enjoyed hearing Jenna read, and particularly hearing the genesis, or story, behind each piece.

Robert read several of my favourite poems from Too Bad, including “On Tour.” As always, it was a treat to hear him read his work and to enjoy the wry humour of many of these poems. People who couldn’t make it to the reading last night, due to time or distance, should definitely tune in to Bob Chelmick’s program on CKUA Radio, The Road Home, to hear Robert read. Hopefully we can post some audio files for you here, soon.

Greenwoods was hopping. Enjoy the photos from the launch!

Alice Major: Outstanding Lifetime Achievement by an Artist

Recently, a short letter from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts announced that Grant Macewan Literary Arts Award had been suspended indefinitely. It happened quietly and with little public opposition amidst a barrage of very public messages from the government about its continued support of the arts in the province. The Grant MacEwan award was something special: it recognized an artist for his or her contribution over a period of time. As short-lived as it was, it was one of the most significant awards in the province and its quiet demise was a blow to the arts community. It highlighted so clearly just how much the arts depends on a firm and continued commitment from all levels of government.

It was therefore particularly heartening to attend the 23rd annual Mayor’s celebration of the arts. Despite cutbacks, the City of Edmonton was saying it was prepared to continue its commitment to the arts and to showcase that commitment publicly. The same goes for the various sponsors, many of who reiterated their commitment to, and belief in the importance of, the arts. To see local artists recognized in this way is reassuring. The awards certainly reflected the depth and diversity of the talent in this province.

The uncontested highlight of the evening was when Alice Major walked up to receive the award for lifetime commitment to the arts. From where I was sitting on the third balcony of the Winspear Centre last night, she was little more than a speck as she walked onto stage. A video screen blasted out a larger-than-life image of her for the benefit of those who would not recognize her on the street. It felt almost out of place, for Alice does not need to be broadcast to let people know she’s there. When she walked onto the stage, she owned the auditorium in the quiet, understated way that characterizes her so well.

Alice is often not the most visible person at arts events, but her influence is felt wherever she goes. She’s the tireless organizer of events, the quiet hand encouraging and assisting young writers, the ardent defender of the arts at council meetings, the juror for awards… The list of her contributions is virtually endless. But it almost always happens in the background.

Yet, when Alice does move onto stage, it is with a quiet assurance that lets people know she’s a phenomenon. When she speaks, it is worth listening; when she writes, her words are worth exploring. One of Alice’s gifts is her ability to make poetry accessible to everyone, to present a moment or a story in language that they would understand and appreciate. It is not without reason that governor-general award winner Don Domanski wrote of Memory’s Daughter that her poetry is “tender, wise, beautifully cadenced work which embraces the reader on every page … [Her] authoritative proficiency comes from a deep understanding of the complexities of aesthetic risks, and the elegance of those risks are so lightly manifested, so luminous, as to make the world newly visible.”

Working with Alice as her publisher gives one insight into her nature: she’s meticulous, fussing over the scansion of a line, or the placement of a comma. Details that aren’t always visible to the reader, but important details nonetheless. And so, too, with the way she approaches her involvement in the community: fussing about a venue here, or about a program there…invisible things that provide the backbone for a successful event.

If ever an award went to a deserving person, it went to one last night. Congratulations, Alice.

Peter Midgley

Alberta Reader’s Choice Final Five!

Alberta Reader's Choice Award logoThe Alberta Reader’s Choice Award‘s final five books have been decided for this year, and public voting for the winning work is set to begin on March 15th. Determining the finalists is an interesting process that moves from public submissions at Alberta libraries, to a juried selection, and finally ends with a public vote.

The University of Alberta Press is proud that In Bed with the Word advanced into the ranks of the ARC top ten and heartily congratulates the remaining five authors and publishing houses! This major new award, initiated by the Edmonton Public Library and offering a $10,000 prize, encourages readers to embrace works published in Alberta.

Daniel Coleman reading from In Bed with the Word.

Author Daniel Coleman reading from In Bed with the Word.

Sneaky Pete

So, it seems that Peter has been writing in his free time. First of all I’m aghast that he has free time in the first place; the gall, the nerve, the outright audacity!

Okay, I’m over it.

Sneaky Pete - the author and editor reviews his handiwork.

Peter Midgley seen here pretending to read his new book -- at the direction of an insistent photographer.

My second concern is that Peter has decided to spend that free time writing, compiling, and editing. Really Peter? Is that healthy?

Independent of my growing concerns for his well-being, Brill has just published Grappling with the Beast: Indigenous Southern African Responses to Colonialism, 1840-1930, a volume edited by Peter Limb, Norman Etherington, and Peter Midgley.

Grappling with the Beast approaches the topic from an interdisciplinary stance, carefully applying a range of disciplinary and theoretical stances. One strength of the volume is the editors’ insistence on presenting materials in their original languages as well as in translation. This volume will undoubtedly be a meaningful contribution to studies of Empire, providing significant insight into the complexities of colonial spaces.

So, from all of us at the UAP, congratulations Peter; we are all very proud of your successes.

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