“A society without poetry and the other arts would have broken its mirror and cut out its heart.”
– Margaret Atwood
ABOUT THE LECTURES
The Anne Szumigalski Lecture Series is generously sponsored by Jacques Nolin and Jennifer Boire.
The Anne Szumigalski Lecture Series is hosted each year at the League’s annual conference, commemorating award-winning Saskatchewan poet Anne Szumigalski. The lectures began in 2002, a few years after Szumigalski’s death, and are modeled after the Margaret Laurence series of lectures by distinguished Canadian writers. Szumigalski was a mentor to numerous prairie poets and much loved in the literary community, especially in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. She was a founder of both the Saskatchewan and Manitoba Writers Guilds, and helped establish the literary magazines Grain and Prairie Fire.
For Brick Books’ 40th anniversary celebration, David Waltner-Toews wrote a short post about Anne Szumigalski’s contribution to Canadian poetry and literature.
As a member of the Saskatoon Poets’ Group in the mid-1970s, what I remember most about Anne Szumigalski was her presence. We would sit down in a circle and read our poetry aloud to each other. I remember especially the times at Terry and Carolyn Heath’s on Clarence Avenue, a house in which my wife and I later lived, and in which my son was born. I remember Carolyn’s sharp, perceptive comments, but I remember Anne’s more gentle criticism, as if just by being there she called into question any humbug and pretence I might parade out. This was something new for me, and dangerous – to share works in progress and invite criticism from my peers. It was exactly what I needed.
ANNOUNCING 2018’s ANNE SZUMIGALSKI LECTURER: ALICE MAJOR
Alice Major has published twelve books of poetry and essays, many of which explore her long-standing interest in mathematics and science. Her newest book, Welcome to the Anthropocene, continues her long-standing engagement with these topics. With her customary wit and intelligence, she tackles the urgent questions raised by human activity on the planet. How do we get along in this complicated period when it can hard to figure out how to do much about the big stuff in our small way? When we have to make a living? When other animals have to live with us? And when poets have to work with the same brains as every other human to make meaning out of it all?
Her writing has been recognized with numerous awards – including the League’s own Pat Lowther Memorial Award and a National Magazine Awards Gold Medal. She served as first poet laureate for her home city of Edmonton, during which time she founded the Edmonton Poetry Festival. Alice has served as president of the Writers Guild of Alberta – and the League of Canadian Poets! – and chair of the Edmonton Arts Council. In 2017, Alice received Alberta’s highest arts award, the Lieutenant Governor’s Distinguished Artist Award.
2017 – Marilyn Dumont
2015 – Gregory Scofield | 2014 – Lillian Allen | 2013 – A.F. Moritz | 2012 – Robert Currie | 2011 – Glen Sorestad
2010 – Anne Simpson | 2009 – Marilyn Bowering | 2008 – Don McKay | 2007 – Mark Abley | 2006 – Margaret Atwood
2005 – George Elliott Clarke | 2004 – Anne Carson | 2003 – Dionne Brand | 2002 – Tim Lilburn
MEASURES OF ASTONISHMENT: POETS ON POETRY: the Anne Szumigalski Lecture Series anthology.
In June 2016, we were proud to launch an anthology of the first 11 Anne Szumigalski lectures as part of the Canadian Writers’ Summit. In partnership with the University of Regina Press. The anthology includes the lectures delivered annually by some of Canada’s most revered poets – Gregory Scofield, Lillian Allen, Tim Lilburn, Anne Carson, George Elliot Clarke, Margaret Atwood, Mark Abley, Don McKay, Marilyn Bowering, Anne Simpson, Glen Sorestad, Robert Currie, and A.F. Moritz.
The Anne Szumigalski Lecture Series, proposed by Regina poet Paul Wilson in 2001 and approved by the League’s National Council the same year, commemorates the award winning Saskatchewan poet, who died a few years earlier. Szumigalski was a mentor to numerous prairie poets and much loved in the literary community, especially in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. She was a founder of both the Saskatchewan and Manitoba Writers Guilds, and helped establish the literary magazines, Grain and Prairie Fire.
The lecture series was modeled after the Margaret Laurence series of lectures by distinguished Canadian writers, long held as part of the Writers’ Union of Canada’s annual general meetings.
Since its inception in 2002, The Anne Szumigalski Lecture Series has been a rich and ongoing dialogue among poets: a dialogue because, taken together, the lectures present a room where we can stand in the doorway and listen as Tim Lillburn, Anne Carson, George Elliot Clarke, Margaret Atwood, Mark Abley, Don McKay, Marilyn Bowering, Anne Simpson, Glen Sorestad, Robert Currie and A. F. Moritz discuss the art and craft of poetry.
Soon, with the publication of an anthology of the first 11 lectures, we will be invited into the room, and shown to a cozy chair where we can follow at our own pace, go back pause and puzzle, read again, be delighted, challenged, invigorated, charmed and exhilarated by the thoughts and musings of some of Canada’s best poets.
This is a book for student and teacher alike; for beginning poets and those who have found their voice, but mostly it’s a book for all of us who are wise enough and lucky enough to find —no, to take the time to be engaged by these lectures.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said: A mind, once stretched by an idea, can never return to the same shape.
If ever an anthology could bend us out of shape, it’s this one. I am pleased and honoured to have been part of its development.
–Mary Ellen Csamer