2015 has been one heck of a year:
It has been a thrill – yet again – to teach as a sessional instructor at the Alberta College of Art + Design, Mount Royal University and Wordsworth Summer Camp; a great thank you to all of my fabulous students.
As Calgary’s Poet Laureate, i co-founded with Calgary Arts Development and the Calgary Chamber the Artists in the Workplace initiative through which we pair businesses who are willing to donate studio and production space to Calgary’s artistic community.
– i have been lucky to have conducted readings and talks at The University of Calgary, University of Alberta, York University, William Aberhart High School, Queen Elizabeth High School, and at public events in London (UK) and Calgary (fourteen events in Calgary alone this year). Thank you so much to all of the organizers, hosts, colleagues, friends and audiences with whom i’ve shared these experiences.
– In support of Helmets for Heroes, I designed Canadian National Luge Team athlete Arianne Jones’ helmet – which she is wearing in competition around the world. the helmet will be auctioned for charity in mid-2016.
– In conjunction with Calgary Reads, i provided the artwork for their new Little Free Library Passport supporting Calgarian literacy.
– I was honoured to give keynote lectures at the Oslopoesifilmfestival (Oslo, Norway) and New Voices, Emerging Paths in Contemporary Canadian Writings (Canadian Literature Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB) and the convocation address at Alberta College of Art + Design
– I’ve been lucky to have work published in the journals and magazines NMC Media-N, Coldfront Magazine, Catalyst, Alberta College of Art and Design Faculty Association Newsletter, Harriet: A Poetry Blog, Ottawa Poetry Newsletter, Whetstone, Stephen, Slot, Varsity Voice, Evening Will Come, Event, Uniformagazine, Illiterature, edition taberna kritika, The Account, Tombolo and Poetry. I have also contributed to 10 different anthologies and 10 small press publications. My work was featured as the front-cover artwork on Jay Gamble’s Book of Knots (Toronto: Bookthug) and Bart Vautour, Erin Wunker, Travis V. Mason and Christl Verdyn’s Public Poetics: Critical Issues in Canadian Poetry and Poetics (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press).
– My artistic work was included in gallery exhibitions in the US, the UK, Austria, Georgia, Germany and Canada. I co-curated, with Phillip Davenport, Total Recall, at the Bury Art Museum (Bury, UK). My work at Roehampton University – directly on the walls of the English department was the first UK public commission ever received by a Canadian poet.
– I was the first artist-in-residence in Calgary’s Lougheed House’s 124-year history. The residency culminated with a gala reading featuring Calgary literati.
– The Manchester-based press If P then Q published my latest volume of criticism, The Unbearable Contact with poets, and for that i am incredibly grateful. thank you James.
– through No press I published 28 different editions of poetry and prose from international, national and local emerging and established writers. each book was meant to help spread the word of risk-taking international writing. Thank you for trusting me with your work.
– I initiated the Twitter project The Calgary Alphabet in which i invited the citizens of Calgary to help create an alphabet of letters which reflect the city’s signage. The project received wide-spread media attention, significant community involvement and will be duplicated in 2016/17 by an international festival (more on that soon)
– I worked with a fabulous team at Project Bookmark to try and make head-way in to Calgary’s community;
– Not all of the projects i’ve undertaken worked out however. 2015 did bring some disappointing news. For my entire tenure as Poet Laureate I have been working with the Calgary Arts Development team (especially the tireless Joni Carroll, Emiko Muraki, Christine Armstrong, Helen Moore-Parkhouse and Kaley Beisiegel) and with representatives from the City of Calgary to create an initiative through which we would name Calgary alleys after prominent deceased Calgarian writers. With support from arts groups across Alberta, the Varsity Community Association and the Beltline Community Association (and many others) we proposed to name streets and pathways in the city after Nellie McClung and Robert Kroetsch (with expansion plans for further alleys named after W.O. Mitchell and Sheila Watson). Sadly – despite wide-spread support from the community (and private funds to cover all potential expenses) and the City of Calgary Naming Committee – the City of Calgary Priorities and Finance Committee did not share our enthusiasm. This was a project we’ve been deeply dedicated to for a number of years and it was crushing to see it not receive support. We may regroup …
None of this would have been possible without my incredible partner, Kristen, and my amazing daughter Maddie. My parents and in-laws have also been a steady voice of support and love; thank you.
In so many ways i only excel because of the strength and support of my community of friends and colleagues especially Christian Bok, Sina Queyras, Darren Wershler, Kenneth Goldsmith, Ken Hunt, Tony Trehy, Jordan Scott, Greg Betts, Lori Emerson, Kit Dobson, Helen Hajnoczky and so many others. Thank you.
And thank you to my students who always encourage me to listen, to share, to push my practice and my pedagogy. You rock.