Relational Innovations Program

Relational Innovations: Creative Writing as Social Practice

Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 | 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
The Insurgent Architects’ House for Creative Writing
SS 1059
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive, N.W.
See map (pdf)

Free – please write to confirm your presence using the header: Relational Innovations RSVP.

Evening Reading at Lot 102
102 10 St NW, Calgary, AB


All events take place in TIA House (SS 1059) unless otherwise stated

Continental breakfast

9 – 9:30 a.m.

Opening remarks

9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Opening remarks: Lillian Allen, Rob Budde, Larissa Lai
Elder’s welcome: Doreen Spence

The Real Centre is Here!

10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Moderator: Suzette Mayr
Reading: Shannon Maguire
Re-loading the Can(n)on: Janet Rogers and Lillian Allen

Lillian Allen and Janet Rogers will present a panel talk on bridging the gap between “urban” poetic practices ie spoken word, slam, Rap to the classroom. We will explore way in which these poetry forms can be studied and shared as validated and valued cannons of poetry which add to the current and growing richness of written, presented and performed poetry.

Finding Words for the Invisible: Lorri Neilsen Glenn

More of the Canadian population than we know or acknowledge have Indigenous and/or Métis (French and/or English Métis) roots. I am one of them. In researching the lives of 19th Century Red River women, I am steeped in two (or more) histories. One ‘given’ history, written almost exclusively by non-Indigenous settler males, privileges and silences the other, just as written language can silence oral. As I pull these stories of “half-breed” women into a manuscript, I am faced with complex issues of representation and identity. Is it possible to find language that honours and represents women who, 150 years ago, were rendered invisible?

Lunch at TIA House

12 – 1 p.m.

Outside In: The Politics and Problems of Writing What You Don’t Know

1:30 – 3 p.m.

Moderator: Rob Budde
Reading: Jani Krulc
Writing Outside Yourself: Creating Characters With Diverse Backgrounds: Jill Yonit Goldberg

Jill will look at the question of writing characters (in fiction) who do not share your own cultural/ethnic/racial/socio-economic etc. background, and what strategies might be used to handle this. Together, we will explore some of the questions writers should ask themselves, including what responsibilities a writer has when it comes to representation, and whether or not there are characters or situations that are off limits to a given writer.

Writing the Double Narrative: An outsider tries to get inside the Israeli/Palestinian conflict: David Leach

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is one of the most divisive issues of our times, with little room for compromise or context in a debate that has hardened into a litmus test for right-versus-left political allegiances. Based on his own travel, research and writing in the region, David Leach will discuss the opportunities, challenges and limitations of using creative nonfiction—and what he calls the “investigative travel memoir”—to tell complex stories from and about this and other conflict zones with competing historical and social narratives while still acknowledging (and unpacking) an author’s own evolving biases.

Alliance vs. Appropriation: Larissa Lai

The cultural appropriation debates of the early 1990s were both a generative catalyst for Indigenous, Black and Asian writing communities and a subject of much controversy in the mainstream press. Deeply connected to a politics of the body and aware that meaning emerges differently depending on the body of the writer or speaker, a politics against cultural appropriation struggled for articulation falling afoul sometimes of bigots and sometimes of theoretical and practical problems embedded in the politics itself. In the aftermath of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, including so-called “people of colour” are charged with addressing the brutal histories of the residential schools. The problem of speaking about others, never easy in the first place, has shifted into deeply uncomfortable and yet deeply pressing ethical terrain. This talk will lay out some of the issues at stake and ask what next steps might look like and how we might recognize movement in the right direction.

Coffee break

3 – 3:15 p.m.

Unsettling Practices: Writers Doing Justice Work in the Academy

3:15 – 4:45 p.m.

Moderator: Lillian Allen
Reading: Peter Forestell
Intersections and Allies: Addressing Masculinity in Creative Writing Programs: Rob Budde

Recent events that have reached national media attention involve the
misconduct of creative writing instructors in academic settings. Adjacent to
this is a fervent discussion of the value of ‘safe spaces’ on campuses. In
the balance are students and colleagues (women, female-identifying, women of colour, First Nations women, LGBTQ2S, and women with disabilities) who are subjected to violence and abuse in ways that seriously limit their ability
to function safely in these creative writing programs. My thinking is partly predicated on my location on Lheidli T’enneh territory and on the “Highway of Tears” where many missing and murdered indigenous women were subject to violence. I would like to discuss as a group

  1. the complexities of these issues as they relate to our practice in the
  2. how specifically men and male-identifying teachers can respond and/or
    alter their practice,
  3. connections between patriarchal ideology and racism as it relates to indigenous women, and how ‘indigenizing scholarship’ might create a real climate of healing, respect, and reconciliation, and
  4. how an organization like CCWWP might take a leadership role in changing what is clearly a toxic environment for many

Hold Your Fucking Communities Accountable: Defining and creating safer spaces for women, trans, non-binary individuals, and people of colour in literary writing communities: Nikki Reimer

Structures of racism and gendered violence exist in Canadian literary writing communities, which, on the surface, appear to be liberal and inclusive, but frequently contain instance of violence against their own members. I want to address a problem I encounter regularly when I publically address racist and gendered violence in social media. In response to my posts, friends and acquaintances involved in writing communities often tell me stories about their own experiences of racist and gendered violence, propagated by people who are known in said communities and are often respected for their writing. For legal reasons, we can’t name the perpetrators, but we still need a way to address harms against others and we need a way to protect people from being harmed. My talk takes its title from ryan fitzpatrick’s poem “Hold your Fucking Metaphors Accountable.” In the poem, fitzpatrick shows that violent metaphors in themselves constitute violence, and he reminds us of the women who were killed by prominent male writers, such as the wives of Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser and Beat writer William Burroughs. During my talk, I shall begin by reading fitzpatrick’s poem and make the connection fitzpatrick encourages us to make: metaphorical and structural violence is still violence, even if it’s not physical.

“Who Are We Talking To? Who Is Listening?” Creative Writing, the Academy, and the Public Intellectual: Angie Abdou

This paper will explore creative writing’s uncomfortable fit within the academy. In terms of social practice, creative writing has potential to reach wider audiences and effect greater change than does academic/scholarly writing. However, many English Departments tend to privilege scholarly articles over creative work, especially when it comes to choosing job candidates or evaluating faculty for tenure and promotion. At the very least, there is an inconsistency in the way different institutions view and rate creative work, even within creative positions. The aim of this presentation is to open a discussion about the variety of professional work that creative writing teachers do outside of teaching (including creative work, academic writing, book reviews, festival participation, media interviews, public lectures, etc). In the paper, I will also consider the potential of these various acts in terms of social practice, as well as the importance granted to each by academic institutions (particularly in job searches and tenure/promotion decisions). Rather than offering answers, this 6-8 minute paper will set the context, raise the questions, present some research, and begin the conversation.

Dinner – Lot 102
102 10 St NW, Calgary, AB

6 – 7 p.m.

Relational Innovations Evening Literary Reading

7 – 9 p.m. | Lot 102

Featured Local Readers: Joshua Whitehead, Aritha Van Herk
3-minute Readings by Symposium Delegates: Janet Rogers, Lillian Allen, Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Jill Yonit Goldberg, David Leach, Larissa Lai, Rob Budde, Nikki Reimer and Angie Abdou