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Literary Cocktails 2016

Literary Cocktails proved to be a very popular event, yet again! Last year we moved from the cozy Papaschase Room of the Faculty Club to the elegant and spacious Winspear Room with its wonderful view of the river valley.

With the early arrival of Spring, there must have been something in the air to enhance the magic of poetry. The three readers and the collections couldn’t have been more different, yet they worked remarkably well together. From stars to molecules, from Uganda to the Canadian Prairies, from homelessness to genocide, many topics were covered and emotions ran high. Anger, sadness, hope, and the beauty of images and words took listeners from high to low to high again.

Thank you, Alice Major [Standard candles], Richard Therrien [Sleeping in Tall Grass], and Juliane Okot Bitek [100 Days] for sharing your poetry, and Dennis Cooley [The Home Place] for emceeing the event.

A big thank you goes out to John Acorn, who provided a brilliant sound system; the Faculty Club for the wonderful food; and particularly all of those who joined us this year to celebrate with us and support the Edmonton Poetry Festival. (We missed Jerome Martin and Ted Bishop, our musicians, who couldn’t make it. We’ll catch them for next year!)

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Second Edition of “Grant Notley” Hard at Work

The Federal NDP Convention was held in Edmonton at the Shaw Conference Centre. 800 delegates from around the country attended, and we were fortunate to get a table to sell Grant Notley: The Social Conscience of Alberta, Second Edition. Author Howard Leeson joined me at the table to sign copies. Here are his comments about the event.

At the federal NDP convention in Edmonton in early April a number of people who had worked with Grant Notley–former Leader of the Official Opposition and father of the present Premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley–got together for a mini reunion. The reunion resulted from the sale of a new edition of the book on Mr. Notley. Many New Democrats at the convention were interested in the history of Mr. Notley’s involvement in Alberta politics and were happy to buy the book. All royalties from the book are going to the Grant Notley scholarship at the University of Alberta.

Bill Dryden – Provincial Secretary of the NDP in Alberta in 1972 and 1973. Later, Chief of Staff to Grant Notley in 1984. David Elliott – Provincial organizer for the NDP in Alberta from 1973 to 1975. Ede Leeson – worked with the Alberta NDP from 1970 to 1977, as a Calgary organizer, convention organizer, and Provincial Council member. Howard Leeson – first executive assistant to Grant Notley in the legislature, provincial secretary for the NDP in Alberta from 1973 to 1975, provincial president from 1975 to 1979, and author of the book. Ted Chudyk – worked with Grant Notley from 1968 to 1971 as a fundraiser and close friend and figures prominently in the book. Reg Basken – Provincial Treasurer for the Alberta NDP during the 1970s and longtime member of the NDP.

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Norway launch of “Idioms of Sámi Health and Healing”

This was a first for UAP: a book launch outside of Canada. Several contributors to Idioms of Sámi Health and Healing live in Norway, and they enjoyed a successful launch in a wonderful venue early in February.

Editor Barbara Helen Miller sent us these paragraphs and some pictures to share with readers of our blog:

The venue for the book launch was the Ardna, centrally located on the Tromsø University campus. The Ardna is inspired by Sámi architecture, and attests to the importance given to Sámi studies at the Tromsø University. The date of 5 February fell together with an intensive week of activities around Sámi studies at the University, plus the Sámi National day on 6 February.

Attending the book launch were 25 interested students, visitors, and teachers. The authors in attendance were Mona, Trine, Randi, Sigvald, Britt, and me. We were all happy to meet again after the years of collaborative work via internet. Professor Jens Ivar Nergard, who has done similar research, was invited to comment.

It’s gratifying that the interest in our book was high.

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“a brand new world” – Email from an author

What a start to the new year! Inquiries from a curious author, published with permission and with no compensation:

Hello Monika,

Here’s to a spanking brand-new to you. And a city sparkling with snow.

I write happily to report that I will be in Edmonton on April 17 with a new poetry book, departures, and I’m thinking how good it would be to drop by the Press offices and make a supreme nuisance of myself. Those folks at UofA Press, they’ve had an entirely too serene time of it, I tell myself, and I have resolved first chance I get to improve their lamentable state.

Also to ask . . . oh yes, she says to herself, says Monika Igali, it was too much to suppose Cooley would be satisfied being a simple bother . . . there’s something. Monika Igali braces for what’s coming. She knows what’s coming. She knows he will ask does she know when The Home Place will be out. No, says Monika Igali, I don’t know when it will be out. I told you last time: there’s lots to do yet. It will be out when it’s out. I know you are going to Trier and you are giddy about taking the book with you. And we will gladly send it with you if it’s out by then. In the meantime . . . quit harassing us.

Ok, says Cooley. That’s what he thought. He didn’t want to cause any consternation, he was merely prompted by the thoughts of Trier. The thoughts of beer and sausage addled him and he lost all sense of proportion and propriety.

Chagrined, he clings to a small hope. He measures his chances of a friendly greeting in April.

Hope you and the year are humming with satisfaction.


Thank yo9781772121193u for this, Dennis! We are looking forward to seeing you during the Edmonton Poetry Festival, especially at the Literary Cocktails on April 20 at the Faculty Club. No promises, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had your book hot off the press by then?


“Apartheid in Palestine” Launch

Apartheid in Palestine had a special launch on January 28, 2016 in Edmonton. It brought together many groups to converse about occupation, displacement, colonization, and apartheid.Book Cover

The volume editor, Ghada Ageel, gave a passionate and informative talk, drawing on her family’s three-generation experience of living in a camp in Gaza. She told the story of how the book came to be and why it was important to bring many voices to the project. She then spoke about the perspective each of the fifteen contributors brought to the book, whether Palestinian or Israeli, academic or activist.

Given the international nature of the book, it was particularly good to have three other contributors at the event: Yasmeen Abu-Laban, Samar El-Bekai, and Reem Skeik.

The reception afterwards gave everyone time to talk about the ideas Ghada Ageel put forward and to celebrate her important work. Her contribution is best summarized by a comment from Ilan Pappe, Professor of History, Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies, University of Exeter:”This is an incisive anthology of scholars and activists that finally takes the conversation on Palestine a step further. This timely collection leaves behind stale and outdated paradigms and boldly offers a new one for looking at the past, the present of the future of the evergreen issue of Palestine. Its lucid structure, original contributions and above all the courageous guidance of its editor makes this book the most valuable contribution to the struggle for justice in Palestine.”

Our thanks to these organizations for their contributions to the event:

Political Science Department, University of Alberta
Middle East and Islamic Studies, University of Alberta
Faculty for Palestine/Alberta
Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism
Palestine Solidarity Network
Canada Palestine Cultural Association

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UAlberta North and UAP Celebrate Winter Solstice

UAP and UAlberta North staff cooperated on a fine event to celebrate Winter Solstice on December 15, 2015. UAlberta North invited members of the broader community, faculty, researchers, and students to an informal gathering, and UAP joined them to present our first book acquired under the umbrella of CCI Press and published as our first Polynya Press title. Idioms of Sámi Health and Healing [Barbara Helen Miller, Editor] is the second book in the Patterns of Northern Traditional Healing Series.

There were three special speakers, Roger Epp [Director, Ualberta North], Linda Cameron [Director, University of Alberta Press], and Earle Waugh [Series Editor, Patterns of Northern Traditional Healing Series]. A running slideshow with photos and descriptions of recent research projects rounded out the program.

The venue was the NINT Building (AKA the Nano Building). Lighting was reminiscent of the northern lights and a fine spread of food and drink fostered conversation. All in all, it was a great event done with great partners. We hope to do it again next year with our next Polyna Press title.

UAlberta North’s official launch will be on February 1, 2016. Door open at 4:15 pm.

TELUS Centre, 87 Ave & 111 St
Formal Program: 4:30 pm in Room 150
Special guest, President David Turpin
Panel: “Traditional Knowledge, Research, and Public Policy in the North” 5 pm
Reception to follow at 6:30 pm at the Atrium

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Worthy of Conversation

I went home the other night wondering if I was part of a (hypothetical) wave of anti-Jewish sentiment that was sweeping the globe.

I had mentioned that the University of Alberta Press had just published a book called Apartheid in Palestine: Hard Laws and Harder Experiences. Before the conversation even got rolling however, my acquaintance told me that we would have to agree to disagree.

Normally, I’m happy to do so. By nature and nurture and by virtue of birth order, I am generally happy to stay away from controversy and strife.

Book CoverIndeed, I am not sure how I got on my high school debate team. Perhaps it was because I could not say “no” to a friend, or the hard-charging coach. Being on the debate team was great training, however. It taught me to do my research, understand the key points on each side, and engage with difficult issues, especially ones where there are no clear or easy solutions. In debate, “agreeing to disagree” does not advance our understanding of a particular problem.

My debate training made me go home thinking about how I would engage, more usefully, if the opportunity came my way again. So here are some key points about Apartheid in Palestine:

  • Two scholars, experts in their fields, deemed this volume of essays worthy of publication. (That’s a key tenet in scholarly publishing.)
  • The contributors to Apartheid in Palestine come from a variety of ethnicities, cultures, and nations—including Israeli and Palestinian.
  • The U of A Press has published all manner of voices, many of which could be deemed to lie outside the mainstream: Jewish, native, women, and poets (who can be the biggest rabble-rousers of all). As ever, our goal is engage in ideas and start conversations.

All manner of injustices are experienced in the world: here at home, in war zones, and in refugee camps. I think we should talk about all of them, and listen with empathy to points made on all sides. With passion, yes, but also with understanding and openness.

If you want to engage in conversation with us and Ghada Ageel, the Edmonton book launch for Apartheid in Palestine is on January 28, 2016 from 3:30 to 6 pm at the H.M. Tory Building, B-87. All are welcome.


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