Writ­ing grants, classes bad for lit?

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS - By Bob Arm­strong

CRE­ATIVE writ­ing pro­grams and lit­er­ary grants are harm­ful to lit­er­a­ture be­cause they cut writ­ers off from the world, Swedish Academy mem­ber and Nobel Prize judge Ho­race Eng­dahl told a French news­pa­per. Ac­cord­ing to the Guardian, Eng­dahl ex­plained in the in­ter­view with the French news­pa­per La Crois that great writ­ers of the past, such as Sa­muel Beck­ett, worked as cab driv­ers, wait­ers or clerks to support them­selves, and that this ex­pe­ri­ence “fed” their lit­er­ary per­spec­tives. Eng­dahl’s bio on the Swedish Academy web­site de­scribes his doc­toral dis­ser­ta­tion and books on lit­er­ary crit­i­cal the­ory, but is mum on the sub­ject of driv­ing fares through the mean mid­night streets of Stock­holm. One of the most in­flu­en­tial abo­rig­i­nal writ­ers in Canada — U.S.-born Thomas King — re­turned to lit­er­ary fic­tion this fall with The Back of the Tur­tle, named last week to the short­list for the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s Lit­er­ary Award for Fic­tion. King, whose ca­reer high­lights in­clude the non-fic­tion The In­con­ve­nient In­dian, the novel Green Grass, Run­ning Wa­ter, and the CBC ra­dio show Dead Dog Café, will ap­pear in con­ver­sa­tion with Univer­sity of Man­i­toba na­tive stud­ies pro­fes­sor Ni­igaan­wi­wedam James Sinclair Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at McNally Robin­son Book­sellers. Sinclair is co-ed­i­tor of The Win­ter We Danced, a book of writ­ings, in­ter­views and speeches from the Idle No More move­ment of 2012-13. Read­ers of the lit­er­ary mag­a­zine Rhubarb can support in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment, gar­dens and lit­er­a­ture at the launch of the jour­nal’s 36th edi­tion, ti­tled Earth and Gar­dens. Ad­mis­sion to the launch, fea­tur­ing a read­ing by poet An­ge­line Schellenberg, in­cludes a $5 do­na­tion to each of the Men­non­ite Lit­er­ary So­ci­ety (pub­lish­ers of Rhubarb), the Men­non­ite Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and the Men­non­ite Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion’s Gar­dens for Afghanistan project. The event runs at café and used book­store Sam’s Place at 159 Hen­der­son Hwy., Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. A friend and pub­lic re­la­tions ad­viser to the late Mar­garet Thatcher has called on Scot­land Yard to in­ves­ti­gate Booker Prize-win­ning nov­el­ist Hi­lary Man­tel ( Wolf Hall) for a short story en­ti­tled The As­sas­si­na­tion of Mar­garet Thatcher. The story, printed in the Guardian in Septem­ber, presents an IRA gun­man and a Labourite sub­ur­ban home­owner con­spir­ing to kill the po­lar­iz­ing Thatcher, who ei­ther saved her na­tion from be­com­ing a foggy Greece or made the coun­try into a Dick­en­sian night­mare. The Guardian notes that Lord Ti­mothy Bell, the Thatcherite who called for po­lice ac­tion against Man­tel, has pre­vi­ously done PR work for Chilean dic­ta­tor Au­gusto Pinochet and Asma al-As­sad, wife of the Syr­ian dic­ta­tor. A pair of po­ets will of­fer their ex­per­tise to help lo­cal writ­ers this year at the Win­nipeg Pub­lic Li­brary and the Univer­sity of Win­nipeg. Di Brandt, who teaches English and cre­ative writ­ing at Bran­don Univer­sity, started her term as this year’s WPL writer-in-res­i­dence this month. Brandt, whose po­etry col­lec­tions in­clude Walk­ing to Mo­jacar, beloved, Jerusalem and ques­tions i ask my mother, will work out of the Mil­len­nium Li­brary un­til April. For de­tails on get­ting a man­u­script re­viewed by Brandt, con­sult the WPL web­site. Mean­while, the U of W an­nounced that Win­nipeg poet Jen­nifer Still, win­ner of the 2012 John Hirsch Award for the most promis­ing Man­i­toba writer and au­thor of the col­lec­tions Girl­wood and Sal­ta­tions, will serve as the univer­sity’s Carol Shields writer-in­res­i­dence in Fe­bru­ary and March.

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