UFV’s first book receives big reception
by Ali Siemens (Contributor)
On Thursday, October 28th, a book launch for Making Waves was held at Cafe Montmarte on Main Street in East Vancouver. The release of the new book from Anvil and UFV presses drew audience members, authors, publishers and other professionals. On the evening’s program were readings from Susan McCaslin, Judith Copirthorne, George McWhirter, Colin James Sanders and Trevor Carolan. Student writers Paul Falardeau and Chelsea Thornton were also present in the audience.
Cafe Montmarte is the perfect location for the launch. With tricycles hanging from the ceilings, and Parisian decor mounted on the walls, guest were sipping their Cabernet Sauvignon, and eating their baked brie appetizers, whilst listening to readings from some of finest writers of the Northwest.
Authors took the stage to read excerpts from their essays within the novel, share stories of inspiration and humour and read poems of the poets that have inspired them. Everyone in the audience had their eyes glued to the speakers, as they passionately shared the literature that shaped them and the community at large.
Susan McCaslin started the evening off by reading an excerpt from her essay, “Facing the Environmental Crisis with Contemplative Attention: the Ecopoetics of Don McKay, Tim Lilburn and Russell Thornton” as well as a poem from each of the poets she wrote about. McCaslin also shared some of her own poetry and captured the crowd’s attention with a few stories about herself as a young student coming from Seattle with her draft dodging boyfriend to Simon Fraser University. The University was then known for its radical beliefs and students who were protesting against the Vietnam War.
Next on Stage, we heard from Judith Copithorne, who also graced UFV with her presence on Tuesday, October 26th, at the campus book launch in the Abbotsford book store. At both events, Judith read some of her own poetry and talked about her journeys as a female writer in the 1960’s. She amused the audience with a story about her and her friend trying to steal two cans of tuna and a loaf of bread, which ended with the two spending the weekend in a San Francisco jail, and her learning a few lessons as well as gathering inspiration for her writing. Copithorne’s featured essay, “A Personal and Informal Introduction and Checklist” offers insight into her life as well as where Vancouver poetry was in 1960’s. Copithorne left the stage by sharing advice, “I leave you with what I learned in jail… among other things: ‘thank you very much and good-bye!’”
George McWhirter, Vancouver’s first poet laureate, talked about his piece within Making Waves, “Origins & Peregrinations: Creative Writing at UBC” and also read two of his own poems, “The Ghost and the Oats” and “The Medium is the Maker.” McWhirter and his wife were also at UFV on October 26, and the poet offered a strong reading for the students and faculty who were present as well as offering advice to aspiring poets and writers.
Next on stage was Colin James Sanders, who chose to read two poems by his mentor, Jack Spicer. Although Sanders did not read from his Making Waves essay, “The Berkeley Renaissance: Its Influence in Context of the ‘Pacific Nation,’” he captivated the audience with Spicer’s sexy poem, “Psychoanalysis: An Elegy,” which repeatedly asks the audience, “What are you thinking now?”
Trevor Carolan, the book’s main editor and the night’s MC, ended the evening with his humorous poem entitled, “Mushrooms,” leaving the audience in fits of laughter and smiles on every person’s face.
Sitting among these literary geniuses was, at first, intimidating. Each individual in the room shared a passion for literature, and the main event – the release of Making Waves. After the reading was over though, one had the chance to mingle with these poets and essayists and learn their tricks; each of them friendly, any thoughts of nervousness all but disappeared. I had the pleasure of talking to Colin Sanders. Sanders had been sick previously in the day and had considered sending his regrets. Sanders has been to hundreds of readings similar to that of Making Waves. With a smile on his face, he said, “I never get sick of coming to these events, each one offers new inspiration.” The once intimidating author proved to be more personable than expected, offering advice to young authors and a care-free attitude. Upon leaving the self described hippie I had an autograph that read, “Hope you find some enchantment within peace.”
As the evening wound down, a band took the stage, and guests were able mingle and gather autographs. Half bottles of wine were topping up half full glasses, and friendships among the literary community were being made and revisited. It would not be surprising to read a poem or short story about the evening spent at Cafe Montmarte, inspiration was everywhere – one could even say there was a possibility to find enchantment.