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Congress 2016

The 75th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences was hosted by the University of Calgary from May 28 to June 3, with over 70 scholarly associations and more than 8,000 academics participating.

The University of Alberta Press once again combined booths with Athabasca University Press and the University of Calgary Press, which resulted in an impressive exhibit of hundreds of books organized by subject. We enjoyed wide-ranging conversations with scholars, students, and fellow publishers during their visits to the University Presses of Alberta booths. Our colleagues from AU Press were responsible for the theme (Nurturing Bright Ideas) and the greenery, which certainly livened up the display.

Peter Midgley (Senior Editor, Acquisitions), organized and participated in a very successful panel. The Wounded Ones: Conversations About the Multiple Legacies of Colonialism featured Ghada Ageel, Juliane Okot Bitek, and Richard van Camp. With Marcello Di Cintio as the moderator, they talked about the long lasting effects of colonialism in Palestine, Namibia, Uganda, and Canada as well as the atrocities that are still taking place.

There were two book launches by UAP authors. We sponsored an informal gathering for Counterblasting Canada, edited by Gregory Betts, Paul Hjartarson, and Kristine Smitka; and co-sponsored a luncheon/book launch of CASEA members, one of them being Nancy Taber, editor of Gendered Militarism in Canada.

UAP also hosted an assembly of university publishing folk, which was a great success with 27 attendees. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up in a social setting. Our thanks to Cathie Crooks’s parents for letting us use their home for the gathering.

This year, we also volunteered to set up a table display for the award-winning books of the Association of American University Presses 2016 Book, Jacket, and Journal Show which was previously displayed at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Alberta. The University of Calgary Library gave us an excellent location. We were pleased to be able to donate many of the books to the U of C Library at the end of Congress.

It was a very busy and successful Congress. Our thanks to all of the people who worked so hard to make it such a terrific event, particularly Bart Beaty, Jessica Clark, and Ashley Craven.


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In Response to the Orlando Shooting

Cathie, Peter and I attended the Association of American University Presses meetings in Philadelphia last week. There were over 720 scholarly publishing professionals gathered at there. We were all in shock over the horrible events in Orlando. At the opening night reception, executive directer, Peter Berkery made a moving speech. I thought you might like to read it.

In 2014, the University Press of Florida published the collected poems of Reinaldo Arenas, a Cuban poet self-exiled to NYC because of the Castro regime’s persecution of LGBTQ people. Arenas’ experiences of oppression ultimately led to his suicide in 1990. An excerpt from Arenas’ poem Morir en Junio y con la Lengua Afuera speaks powerfully to the immense sorrow and outrage that have followed last Sunday’s horror in Orlando:

For against death,
our furies are no longer enough,
our hatred,
our frustrations or our,
good intentions.
For against death,
there are no massages nor laying ourselves down,
nor anything that didn’t happen,
nor hours we could not use except to flee.
If only you were to gesture against the sunbeam,
that offends your eyes each day,
when it sneaks in to touch the carpet.
let someone know you’re exploding,
let someone know we’re all exploding always,
let someone far away, someone far, far away,
away in another time,
(the time of attentive hatred, the time of fierce furies)
hear your explosion always.
Let your explosion be heard always.
Let your explosion become one with time, take up residence in time.
And let it be,
one more shriek in the hated concert.
And let it be,
another constant sputtering in the same bubbling cauldron.
And let it be,
one more destructive pest, royally equipped,
for the voyage and the sojourn,
—for the journey—
over the timeless white hot terrain ahead.

(© 2014 Estate of Reinaldo Arenas)

University presses play an essential role in the care and feeding of civil society by cultivating and publishing books like this one, works that engage unflinchingly with serious issues like the hateful and persistent persecution of gay and transgender people and the epidemic of gun violence in the United States.

Recognizing the overwhelming impotence of moments of silence, the last few awful days have led many of us to ask ourselves “What can I do to fight the ignorance, the hatred, the violence?”

And what I’d like to say to you tonight is this: you’re already doing it.

I urge you to embrace the honor of this essential work over the next few days, along with a renewed commitment to shine the bright light of knowledge on a world that desperately needs it.

2015 Tom Fairley Award Winner: Lesley Peterson

Each year, the Editors’ Association of Canada recognizes exceptional editors at their award ceremony, and this year, it was Lesley Peterson who won the 2015 Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence. She was awarded the $2,000 prize for her work on The Little Third Reich on Lake Superior: A History of Canadian Internment Camp R by Ernest Robert Zimmermann, with Michel S. Beaulieu and David K. Ratz, Editors.

The jury panel lauded Peterson’s advanced skill in managing conflicting expectations on a difficult work that blended memoir and scholarly research. “Peterson impressively demonstrates that while the work of an editor may be hidden, it can require advanced skills in tact, diligence and patience,” said one judge. “With many competing interests in the posthumous work, Peterson had to do far more than the thorough copy edit required. Peterson is patience with a capital P.”

Here is her acceptance speech, given at the annual Editors’ Association of Canada conference, which was held in Vancouver last weekend.

The energy that drove this project, from first to last, was the enduring vitality of the author, the late and much-missed Ernest Zimmermann, whose voice, even from beyond the grave, made him a kind of ghostly Pied Piper whose call it was futile to resist. I am very grateful for the privilege of answering the call on behalf of the University of Alberta Press, and for the insight and expertise of the others who helped me find the road and stay the course. These include, of course, the Zimmermann family’s chosen collaborators, David Ratz and Michel Beaulieu, former students of the author, whose familiarity with Zimmermann’s perspective and personality, not to mention his personal library, I could only envy. They also include Mary Lou Roy and Peter Midgley at the Press, who gave me from start to finish feedback, faith, focus, and—most precious of all—space and time; time in which to read and re-read, to think and re-think; space and time, above all, in which to listen attentively to the compelling music of Zimmermann’s voice as it faded in and out of range.

9781772120318To be recognized by such an expert and elite body as this—by you here—is astonishing. One of my earliest mentors, the Manitoba writer, editor, and scholar Dennis Cooley, commented once that “You can only be a writer in isolation, and you can only be a writer in community.” I believe that statement to be just as true of editing as it is of writing. This award is given to me today by the community of Canadian editors; I would like now to give it back to each of you. Thank you for all that you do to support the profession, and for the great honour of welcoming me into your midst.

Congratulations, Lesley! It is always a pleasure working with you.


Literary Cycling Book Launched at Café Bicyclette

Dave Buchanan’s launch on June 8 at Café Bicyclette was an absolute treat. He has spent several years researching and writing about early travel literature. His book introduces us to two of the best cycling adventurers from the late 1800s: Elizabeth Robins Pennell and Joseph Pennell, an American couple from Philadelphia.

His entertaining talk and slideshow touched a chord with friends, colleagues, and cycling enthusiasts who gathered to celebrate the publication of A Canterbury Pilgrimage/An Italian Pilgrimage.

The high wheel bike, in particular, engendered many questions.

  1. How the heck did they get on them? (There is a small post on the wheel that you stepped on before flinging your other leg over the top.)
  2. How the heck did they stop them? (By pressing a foot against the side of the wheel.)
  3. Was this the origin of the term “taking a header”? (Possibly, seeing that the rider was often pitched headfirst over the top of the wheel.)
  4. Why did people ride them? (As there was no drivetrain on these early bikes, the larger the wheel, the faster the bike went. These were early speed demons.)

No wonder that Joseph and Elizabeth rode the much safer tricycle. Apparently it was particularly popular with the upper classes in England after Queen Victoria got one!

Eventually a bike that looks much more like the ones we ride today came into production in the 1890s, appropriately called the “safety” bicycle. It had a drivetrain and, eventually, brakes.

Dave selected two fascinating entries to read to the crowd. Hearing Elizabeth’s prose read aloud made us hear her voice clearly. Witty, wry, expressive.

Our thanks to the folks at Café Bicyclette and all who came out to celebrate and enjoy the evening. And, of course, to Dave Buchanan for bringing these wonderful stories and illustrations to life in his book and in his talk.


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Musings from Tanya, UAP Intern – #3

“Tragedy” in the Gold Room

For those of you who have visited us at the Press, you know that we work in a beautiful, historic house. The house itself has the most incredible history, experiences small animal and insect incursions, and contains secret, back way staircases—some of the many reasons why working here is so cool!

And then there’s the basement…

I’ve said this before, but if Freddy Krueger were to live anywhere he would set up shop in the basement. Why? It’s a generally creepy place. This is emphasized by the fact that there’s no drywall on the ceiling, which means that the low hanging pipes and wood are exposed. Fortunately, we rarely have to venture down there. Unfortunately, Marek and I were given the project of making the basement slightly less creepy by upgrading the shelving units to a nicer, more modern looking IKEA bookcase. Of course, this was not the real reason. It was more to protect the books that are housed down there from dust or squirrels (they like us here).

The project seemed simple enough.

We ran into a number of problems. The first was putting together the IKEA furniture. As many of us know, IKEA spells disaster for relationships. Many newspapers have jumped on this topic. For example, Express, an online newspaper in the UK, quoted Professor Durvasula (2015) who claimed, “Putting together this furniture is like a pressure cooker.” Luckily, having done this before, we were already (semi) experts.

The main issue was relocating the shelf to its final resting place in the Gold Room. (The Gold Room is a tiny room, maybe the size of a large closet, exploding with books.) There was not enough space for us to build the shelf inside the room, so we opted to build it outside and carry it in once we were finished. This was probably the worst thing that we could have done.

It was a tall shelf, so there was no way to successfully bring it into the room vertically or it would get caught on the doorframe. If we brought it in horizontally, we wouldn’t have enough space to flip it to a vertical position. Not to mention, we would bump into other shelving units or filing cabinets in the room. Entering the room on an angle seemed to do the trick.


We needed the shelf to rest against the wall and the shelf was now in the middle of the room. Typically this wouldn’t have been an issue, but the exposed pipes escalated the issue.  There was no way to fit the shelf into the room and under the pipe to sit against the wall. Or so we thought. We spent about 30 minutes trying to get it into the room and were eventually successful. We were so proud to have overcome such obstacles. At that moment, we noticed that the doors of the shelf were facing the wall. We had put the bookcase in backwards!

Back to the drawing board.

At this point, we decided to start all over again. How about if we angle it this way? Nope. Why don’t we try this? Nope. How about if we…? Nope again. Finally! After what seemed like forever, we got it. It was against the wall. The doors were where they were supposed to be. It was probably one of the most frustrating, hilarious moments I’ve experienced working here. We joked, wishing there was a security camera downstairs so that we could have captured our frustration on film.

All I can say is thank goodness that Marek was there to direct, or I’d still be in the basement.

Have you ever been down to our basement? This is how everything looks!

Bates, D. (2015, April 26). Want to know if your relationship will work? Try the ‘IKEA rage’ test. Retrieved from http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/572720/know-your-relationship-will-work-Try-IKEA-rage-test.