UFV’s English department announced that Vancouver poet Jordan Abel will be this year’s writer in residence.
“He’s a pretty happening poet right now around B.C.,” said English professor Trevor Carolan, who works with the writer in residence selection committee. “He’s read here at UFV before and students loved him. He’s really good on a stage and he has a really good sense of what’s happening in the poetry scene now.”
Abel will be the 10th writer in residence in UFV’s Kuldip Gill Writing Fellowship, a 10 week program that gives writers the opportunity to work on their own writing projects, as well as provide support for students and the UFV community. Abel has published three poetry books and his latest, Injun, focuses on contemporary issues of racism and the representation of indigenous people.
“His poetry, on the page, looks very experimental,” Carolan said. “He’s also First Nations; he brings that kind of indigenous element.”
Aside from his poetry chapbooks, Abel has also contributed and edited a variety of Canadian journals and magazines, and is currently working on a doctorate at Simon Fraser University.
“He’s doing a PhD at SFU in digital humanities [and indigenous poetics], which is kind of the new phase of where some of the art and communication stuff, language is going. This is going to be a terrific resource to have here on campus, to have him around.”
Carolan noted that the English department has plans to expand the program by including more publishing opportunities for students.
“The students are saying they want something a bit different, we’re wondering how can we do that, maybe we need to do a rethink,” he said. “They’re not getting any information about what to do with their poetry manuscripts or what to do with those stories or what you do with a play … So we started looking at what can we do with this program.”
To help students explore publishing opportunities, the English department will also be hosting Literary Arts Week at UFV from February 20-24, coinciding with Abel’s term in residence. The event will feature Abel, along with Richard Olafson, publisher of Ekstasis Editions and Pacific Rim Review of Books, and writers Robert Martens, Gary Geddes, and Ann Erickson.
“We talked with the school about it and I said ‘What if we got a hold of some serious publishers and brought them out here?’” Carolan said. “We can’t bring everyone from the Valley downtown, but maybe we can bring them from downtown to come out here.”
At this point, the arts week is the only event planned, but Carolan explained that there are plans for more depending on its success.
“There’s going to be a lot of events going on and I guess this could be a model for future years,” he said. “If it works, why wouldn’t we want to do this again, especially if it’s what students want?”
With files from Joel Robertson-Taylor