News from the Feminist Caucus, by Anne Burke

News from the Feminist Caucus, by Anne Burke
This month an update on Poetry & the Disorganized Mind (2012) papers in process;
Feminism/Poetry titles in the Wilfred Laurier Press Life Writing Series; new poetry review
opportunities via a link with CWILA Canadian Women Writers in the Literary Arts:
“Closing the Gap in Reviewing Canadian Women Writers”, on “gate-keepers and the
glass ceiling”; Penn Kemp on Colleen Thibaudeau, reviews of Line By Line: An
Anthology of Canadian Poetry, edited by and with drawings by Heather Spears and Joy
Kogawa: Essays on Her Works.
In the upcoming chapbook, Lynda Monahan, panel organizer, author and editor, will
include: Linda Hutsell-Manning whose paper is titled Progressive Dementia: the
Memory's Slow Sad Dance to Death; Janet Vickers whose paper is titled My Mother's
End Was My beginning. Lynda’s own paper is titled For All We Have Lost and All We
Have Gained. My paper is “Alcoholics Make the Best Fathers/” ‘I Am Not An Alcoholic,
My Father’s Mantra’”. In addition, there will be papers on “Poetry and the Disorganized
Mind”, by panelists Penn Kemp and Glen Sorestad. We appreciate your continuing
support of the Feminist Caucus and of the Living Archives Series.
Thank you to a Feminist Caucus correspondent who contacted us about a new
opportunity for Women Writers in the Literary Arts. I am publishing their entire Press
Notice for Immediate Release below and a web link here so that interested readers can
follow up.
The CWILA Numbers 2011 make clear that if we hope to foster a culture in which
women’s intellectual contributions are valued as much as men’s, more critical
attention must be paid to books written by women. While this strongly suggests
that editors, as well as the publications they work for, would benefit from taking
stock of their own numbers, the data also suggests that not enough women are
writing reviews. If we hope to redress these dispiriting numbers, we must
encourage more women to enter the critical sphere. Whether by writing essays,
reviews, blogs or by using our positions as editors to enable more representative
critical conversations, we must step forward and make our choices count on the
record. “The CWILA Numbers: An Introduction” by Gillian Jerome
You can also read more online: The CWILA Numbers–An Introduction
Members of CWILA Canadian Women Writers
An Interview with Sue Sinclair
An Interview with Rita Wong
An Interview with Laura Moss
CWILA Literary Gender Count
Context for the CWILA Numbers
Closing the Gap Reviewing Canadian Women Writers
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August 2012
Media Contacts for CWILA Launch For more information please contact:
Gillian Jerome
Lorna Crozier
Sue Sinclair
Laura Moss
We are mentioned on their detailed website: Canadian Women in the Literary Arts
The group is fundraising to set up a Reviewer-in-Residence position, in order to promote
reviews of work by Women Writers.
The Caucus chapbooks include an analysis of the number of reviews written based on
In a 1982 League of Canadian Poets archival booklet, Stats, Memos and
Memory, 1982, Cathy Ford and Sharon H. Nelson reported inequalities in gender
representation in English-language Canada Council-funded reading programs,
English departments, and literature anthologies
1982 Stats, Memos, & Memory
1996 Reviewing: Women, Writing on Writing
contains texts by Pat Jasper, Mary Dalton, Lynne Van Luven and myself. Pat was the
Chair of the membership Committee and Treasurer of the League. In her Introduction,
she refers to the Fall of 1994 when the Caucus surveyed the status of reviewing with
regard to gender in periodicals and newspapers. Susan Andrews Grace was Chair of
the Feminist Caucus for two years. Newspapers were reviewing little poetry. Although
the ratio of men/women’s books published was 56% to 44%, the number of male
reviewers outnumbered female 60% to 40%, suggesting that more work needs to be
done in this area. Pat concluded that reviewing is an ugly job, second-guessed and
underpaid. A daunting prospect. “It’s an ugly job but somebody’s got to do it—and half
of those somebodies should be women!” (p. 57)
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Mary Dalton, Professor of English at Memorial University edited Newfoundland Studies.
From 1980 to 1986, she was a coeditor and publisher of TickleAce. In “Colyumists and
Collanders of Zeitgeist: Some Thoughts on Poetry Reviews and Reviewing”, she
acknowledges that the pastime is “from the class of barkers, pigs, and sucker fish.” (p.
14) No wonder mainstream poetry reviews and literary journals are becoming fewer.
In her companion piece, “Some suggestions on Approaching the Act of Reviewing; or,
The Reviewer as Lover”, she adds, “Book reviewing is one of the more poorly paid
branches of journalism.” (p. 21) “Reviewing at its finest is an act of love.” (p. 24)
She appends “Book Reviewing: A Selected Bibliography” an annotated list which alludes
to “Feminist Book Reviewing: A Symposium” in Feminist Studies.
My paper was “‘Skin and Beads’: Or How I Got Into Book Reviewing and How Book
Reviewing Can Get Into You (If You Aren’t Careful)” about the Golden Rule, you should
review as you would wish to be reviewed. “Nothing but skin and beads” my collected
Interviews, Essays, and Review 1983-1995 comes from a comment made about the
dress (or lack thereof) Marilyn Munroe wore to the party of John F. Kennedy for her
breathy rendering of “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” She epitomized the blonde bimbo
bombshell on which little girls like me were advised to model ourselves by our fathers. I
began my reviewing career with the attempted ghost writing of a review for my professor.
The fact that “his” review remained unwritten was an instance and manifestation of
“penis envy” on my part according to the Freudian analysis of the day.
I received a warm, enthusiastic letter from the author, when my review of Daphne
Marlatt’s poem Steveston was published in the “feminist” issue of Prairie Fire.
The review was subtitled “For Daphne: Of Love and Squalor”. Fred Wah introduced the
reprinted poem with the revelation that she was not accepted as an equal member of the
Tish group.
Lynne Van Luven, a Professor of Journalism at Carleton University, was the Books
Editor for The Edmonton Journal. She believed that arts’ reporting in Canada does not
have much respect in the current economy. (See: “Random Thoughts From A
Reviewer.”) Her print mentors were George Bernard Shaw, Dorothy Parker, and Oscar
Wilde. “So I began to write book reviews—mainly because no one else seemed
interested and partly because you got to keep the books you reviewed.” (p. 51)
The fourth panelist was Rhea Tregebov who reviews people she knows if she feels she
can be objective. She was Book Reviews Contributor for University of Toronto Quarterly
an annual report and an omnibus review of the year’s titles (for which she was not paid.)
As you may know, the League of Canadian Poets is setting up a “Reviews Page” on the
Website at www.poets/ca
The Feminist Caucus Web Page welcomes reviews of any of the Living Archives
Chapbooks. Some have already been posted.
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August 2012
We also welcome reviews of women’s poetry and poetics titles in this monthly column,
so please contact me at [email protected] with reviews, requests, titles for
review, and news.
A heads-up, ears open for Tuesday, July 3, 6:30 - 7:00 pm. “This Gathering Voices”
show which was a tribute to London poet, Colleen Thibaudeau (1925-2012). We
featured Colleen’s poem sequence, “Inwhiches”, from the Four Women, CD, as well as
Penn Kemp with Anne Anglin, performed live at King’s University College, the Centre for
Studies in Creativity. Penn read her tribute poems to Colleen as well. Colleen’s wellknown concrete poem will ride London buses this year as part of the anthology of Poetry
in Motion, Gathering Voices, CHRW FM 94.9 FM. (R. July 10,
6:30-7:00 am). Listen live on . The show was blogged on
Gathering Voices,, and archived on
Happy summer!
Penn Kemp, Poet Laureate for the City of London
Penn receives the
Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Medal for services to arts and culture on
Wednesday June 27th, at a special awards banquet.
New muse/news is now up on, as is the schedule for my
Lit.-on-Air radio show, Gathering Voices. Take a look/listen to the show, podcast and
archived on
If you are LinkedIn, please join http :// .
See also
In a previous report, I mentioned The Daughter’s Way: Canadian Women’s Paternal
Elegies, by Tanis MacDonald May 2012 Hardcover $85 ebook available
The Daughter’s Way
Canadian Women’s Paternal Elegies
Tanis MacDonald.
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August 2012
May 2012
280 pages
ebook available
“‘How women are to be—as bodies, as artists, and as elegists—is
predicated on their ability to memorialize and inherit,’ writes Tanis
MacDonald in her introduction.… In the beautifully written chapters
that follow, she traces an arc of female paternal elegies with sensitivity
and a keen critical and feminist intelligence. Erudite, insightful, nuanced,
and continuously engaging, The Daughter’s Way is a lucid crystallization
of years of study, thought, and felt experience.… It is a significant
contribution to Canadian literary and feminist studies and … the elegiac
mode itself.” – D.M.R. Bentley
I came across the announcement before my own father passed. Now I want to include
other titles pertaining to Essays in Honour of Barbara Godard, Explorations in Canadian
Women’s Archives, Challenging the Single Mother Narrative, and Canadian Women’s
Essays in Honour of Barbara Godard, Editors:
Eva C. Karpinski teaches feminist theory and autobiography in the School of Women’s
Studies at York University.
Jennifer Henderson is an associate professor in the Department of English at Carleton
Ian Sowton is professor emeritus of English and senior scholar, York University
Ray Ellenwood is retired from York University in 2005 but is still actively researching and
of the works of such writers and artists as Marie Clements, Nicole Brossard, France
Daigle, Nancy Huston, Yvette Nolan, Gail Scott, Denise Desautels, Louise Warren,
Rebecca Belmore, Vera Frenkel, Robert Lepage, and Janet Cardiff.
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August 2012
of related interest:
Wider Boundaries of Daring: The Modernist Impulse in Canadian Women’s Poetry
Di Brandt and Barbara Godard editors 2009 paper 424 pp. $42.95 ebook available.
Wider Boundaries of Daring: The Modernist Impulse in Canadian Women’s Poetry
announces a bold revision of the genealogy of Canadian literary modernism by
foregrounding the original and exemplary contribution of women poets, critics, cultural
activists, and experimental prose writers Dorothy Livesay, P.K. Page, Miriam
Waddington, Phyllis Webb, Elizabeth Brewster, Jay Macpherson, Anne Wilkinson, Anne
Marriott, and Elizabeth Smart. In the introduction, editor Di Brandt champions particularly
the achievements of Livesay, Page, and Webb in setting the visionary parameters of
Canadian and international literary modernism.
Barbara Godard, was Historica Chair of Canadian Literature and a
professor of English, French, social and political thought, and women’s studies at York
University. She published widely on Canadian and Quebec cultures and on feminist and
literary theory. As translator, she introduced works by Quebec women writers to an
English readership, including Nicole Brossard’s Picture Theory (1991, revised edition
2006) and France Théoret’s The Tangible Word (1991).
Di Brandt is the author of seven books of poetry as well as collections of critical and
creative essays. She has received numerous awards for her poetry, including the CAA
National Poetry Prize, the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, and the Gerald
Lampert Award. She holds a Canada Research Chair in creative writing at Brandon
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Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace Explorations in Canadian Women’s
Archives Linda M. Morra and Jessica Schagerl, editors August 2012 Harcover $85 355
pp. Life Writing Series e-book available
Showcases the range of critical debates that animate thinking about women’s archives in
Canada. From questions of acquisition, deposition, and preservation to challenges
related to the interpretation of material, the contributors track how fonds are created (or
sidestepped) in response to national and other imperatives and to feminist
commitments; how archival material is organized, restricted, accessed, and interpreted;
how alternative and immediate archives might be conceived and approached; and how
exchanges might be read when
there are gaps.
Not the Whole Story Challenging the Single Mother Narrative Lea Caragata and Judit
Alcalde, editors December 2012 paper $24.95 176 pp. Life Writing Series
A compilation of stories narrated by single mothers in their own way and about their own
lives. Each story is unique, but the same issues appear again and again. Challenges
related to abuse, parenting, mental health and addictions, childcare, immigration and
status vulnerability, custody, and poverty—combined with a lack of support—contribute
to their continued struggles. To address these issues we need to challenge the fl awed
public policies and the negative discourse that continue to marginalize single mothers.
Canadian Women in the Literary Arts
"Editors and reviewers make choices. That's
their job. And for better or worse the choices
they make matter deeply, not only to the public
trajectory of individual authors and books, but
also, and more importantly, to the quality and
tone of our national conversation about the arts." ~ Gillian Jerome, CWILA
There is a dramatic gender imbalance in the
discussion of literature in English-speaking
Canada. Canadian Women in the Literary Arts
(CWILA) was founded in the Spring of 2012 to
address the lack of critical attention given to
women's writing in the Canadian media. Currently
over 70 poets, novelists, scholars and critics
from across the country are CWILA members, and our numbers are growing.
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August 2012
In the United States, the
Count has tracked the gender disparity in
American and British literary criticism. Each
year, they have examined several major
publications and have counted the number of
articles and book reviews written by men vs.
those written by women. They have also tracked
the number of reviewed books written by men and
women respectively. Despite the
media reporting on the VIDA Count, no one has
counted the numbers in Canada-so CWILA has done its own count for 2011.
CWILA examined book reviews in fourteen Canadian
literary publications-including The Globe & Mail,
The National Post, The Walrus, Quill and Quire,
The Literary Review of Canada, and Geist-and some
startling gaps were found. This despite the fact
that Canadian men and women are publishing books
in equal numbers. The results have been
assembled on the CWILA website, and where
possible comments and interviews from the editors
of the publications in question have been
included. We encourage other outlets to respond
to our call to engage in what we hope will
continue to be a productive, positive dialogue.
CWILA's mandate is to close the gender gap in our
review culture by encouraging more women to take
visible roles in the community and by asking our
existing editors and reviewers, male and female
alike, to attend more closely to the gendered
nature of the choices they make. To this end we
have, in addition to the count, created a
critic-in-residence position, which will pay a
Canadian female or genderqueer writer a $2000
stipend to be the CWILA critic-in-residence for a
calendar year. We are currently accepting
donations to that fund
CWILA is interested in developing a critical
community welcoming of all marginalized voices
and sincerely hopes to contribute to the
attainment of equality in the arts in Canada. We
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August 2012
welcome you to CWILA and encourage you to join the conversation.
Media Contacts for CWILA Launch For more information please contact:
Gillian Jerome
Lorna Crozier
Sue Sinclair
Laura Moss
Review of Line By Line: An Anthology of Canadian Poetry, Edited By and With
Drawings By Heather Spears (Victoria, B.C.: Ekstasis Editions 2002) 144 pp. paper
The cover drawing is a reverse print of a self-portrait, composed, with her simple tools,
paper and drafting pencils. The artist poet is opened-eyed due to the wonder she
witnesses and experiences in the everyday. This depiction memorializes her craft and
serves to operate on dual levels, capturing authenticity in a few, fleeting moments, while
embedding and enshrining symbolism just beneath the surface.
Several of the fifty drawings contain holographic lines or phrases from the individual
author’s poem. The snatches of and transmuted renderings from the poetry (in a visual
art) resemble the medievalist’s playful art and punning, the Great Code of da Vinci's
paintings, such as The Last Supper, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, and Blake’s glorious
watercolours, but Heather culls all of that and more in her otherwise unassuming but
exquisite minimalist miniatures.
The collection opens with an excerpt from “poem fishing” by Glen Sorestad. The poems
are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the authors, from Margaret Atwood’s “The
Line, As in Poetry: Three Variations”, Jay Macpherson’s “The Fisherman”, Sarah
Klassen’s “Reflections on Line”, to P.K. Page’s “Motor Trip”, Linda Rogers’ “The Saning”,
Phyllis Webb’s “Spring Thing”, Patricia Young’s “Walking Down the Staircase”, and Liz
Zetlin’s “End of the Line”. Stephen Scobie wrote in salutation “Dear Heather,” and
simply signed “Stephen”.
Heather Spears is one of the wonderful individuals who come into your life at the
optimum time with such brilliance and giftedness (combined with humility) that you have
to remember to breathe in her presence. The first time I met her at Victoria College
(University of Toronto) was when I came from Calgary to a League annual general
meeting. The black Richardson ground squirrels were feasting on peanuts underneath
an ageing tree canopy. She was welcoming and indicated that she had just returned
from the Rose Garden in Washington D.C. after performing for President George Bush
(Senior). Instead of bragging about her lofty poetic connections, she talked about the
Since then I have had the pleasure of publishing her drawings in The Living Archives
Series, as well as in The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature. Of special note is our
Pregnancy Loss Issue which contained a centre-spread across both pages for her
drawing of a still-born baby. Later, she contributed her memoirist “Anne before Aqua, the
poetry of Anne Marriott, with notes by the poet. Thanks to permission from Marya
McLellan, Anne’s daughter and Executor of the Estate of Anne Marriott, we were finally
able to publish Heather’s essayist prose coupled with holographic corrections and
comments by Anne. We nominated the piece for the National Magazine Award for the
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August 2012
This essay was written years ago, when I was on a Canada Council Grant and
spent several months living with Anne Marriott in North Vancouver. It was never
published, mostly because I was discouraged by her dissatisfaction with it. But
now, on rereading, it’s not my serious attempt at literary criticism, as much as her
lively commentary, which stands out as valuable, and, I believe important, in
revealing the way she viewed herself as a poet.
have not changed my text, which strikes me at a distance – it was written in
1984 – as somewhat naïve and pretentious. What are important now are her
comments. I have included images of some of them as they appeared on my
manuscripts and hope they will illustrate the essay with her lovely scrawly hand
(Issue No. 55, p. 31).
Heather’s abiding spirit is the preoccupation with and exploration of “that mystery of what
is line — verbal, tactile, or ‘visionary’. Because line to me is of almost divine
significance.” (“Introduction”, p. 7) Her poem “The Teaching of Drawing” reveals:
a line is
it is the turning away of a stone, a shoulder
it is the terrified awareness of absence
faltering into consciousness and speaking itself in a whisper
(p. 113)
She is an inveterate sketcher, a hyper-realist caricaturist, who records the silent spaces
between poems with verve and enthusiasm. What she has done over the years for the
League of Canadian Poets and the Writers Union of Canada, as well as for unborn
children and their grief-stricken parents, is unselfish. The fifty poets/poems/drawings are
only a sampling of her prodigious output. Some of her original drawings are in the artist’s
collection and others archived at the University of British Columbia, preserved for future
Heather Spears
ISBN 1-896860-50-8 Line by Line (poetry Line by Line offers a glimpse of poetry in
action through the expressive drawings of Heather Spears. Fifty of Canada’s most
revered poets contemplate the subject ‘line’ – lines of poetry, landscape or art – each
poem accompanied by a portrait capturing the poet in performance.
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Samuel Johnson's "Lives of the Poets" were written to serve as Introductions to a trade
edition of the works of poets whom the booksellers selected for republication. Heather’s
Bio Notes raise our lives to new and renewed levels!
Review of Joy Kogawa: Essays on Her Works, edited by Sheena Wilson (Toronto:
Guernica, 2011) paper 364 pp. $20 Writers Series 32 Bibliography.
When Joy Kogawa found out about her father’s pedophilia, she was a teenager, and
she could not reconcile herself to the facts. Her questioning came when he was in his
nineties. She once pondered, “I wonder if I killed him. I loved him and I loathed him” (p.
313). When asked about A Song of Lilith and “Do you have a message to other
women?” she answers that males are learning the secret power of being rulers in
disguise. Women‘s anger can be a kind of weakness. Mary Magdalene‘s eternity
moment is “what we come home to.”
If I had been able to live in that moment when I was young, it would have made
all the difference. I would have been stronger. Maybe I could have sustained a
relationship. Maybe I’d still be married. (p. 330)
Wilson is Assistant Professor at University of Alberta and she authored the entry on Joy
Kogawa for The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century World Fiction, edited by John
Clement Ball.
The editor and contributor offers an “Introduction: The multiple voices of poiesis and
praxis – the work of Joy Kogawa” (pp.9-42) ; an original, previously unpublished
interview on “Interstitiality, Integrity, and the Work of the Author: A Conversation with Joy
Kogawa”, (pp. 278-339); an account “Biography: A narrative of life through words and
actions”, (pp. 340-351); a summary of “Awards and Honours Garnered for Obasan and
for a Lifetime of Literary Work and Community Activism” (pp. 352-354); and compiled a
useful “Bibliography: Works By and About Joy Kogawa.” (pp. 359-362). All of the entries
are arranged alphabetically by author’s surname. The reader will be able to consult
“Writing by Kogawa”, Select Interviews and Conversations”; “Selected Publications
about the Work of Joy Kogawa Books which reference Joy Kogawa’s writing”, “Select
Articles and Chapters”.
In addition, there is a preview of Gently to Nagasaki, Chapter Fourteen, as a work in
progress. Each of the dozen discrete papers in this compact and comprehensive
collection contains a list of Works Cited.
Although Kogawa, author, poet, and activist, is probably best known for her novel
Obasan published in 1981, she has written poetry, including The Splintered Moon
(1067), A Choice of Dreams (1974), Jericho Road (1977), and Six Poems (1980). She
continued to write and publish poetry, Women in the Woods (1985), A Song of Lilith
(2000), and A Garden of Anchors: Selected Poems (2003).
Irene Sywenky’s “Displacement, Trauma, and the Use of Fairy Tale Motifs in Joy
Kogawa’s Poetry and Prose” (pp. 159-204) indicates the subversive use which conveys
Kogawa’s feminist interests. She does not identify with Western female protagonists.
The 1960s was a period which inspired her poetry. Sywenky is Assistant Professor of
Comparative Literature, Modern Languages, and Cultural Studies at the University of
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August 2012
Alberta. Sywenky wrote the entry on Kogawa in the Dictionary of Literary Biography,
volume 7, 21st Century Canadian Writers.
Jonathan Hart’s “The Poetics of Moment, Exception, and Indirection in Joy Kogawa’s
Lyric Poetry” (pp. 129-158) examines her techniques reflecting reality and dream,
especially in Jericho Road (1977). According to Hart, who is Professor of English at the
University of Alberta, she juxtaposes peace and violence, silence and language, the fairy
tale and the biblical, mental and physical, the natural and the supernatural, human and
animal, the present and the past. Hart, whose poetry has been translated, goes on to
examine A Choice of Dreams (1974), Woman in the Woods (1985), A Garden of
Anchors: Selected Poems (2003).
When she rediscovered the Kogawa Homestead, together with poets Roy Miki and
Daphne Marlatt, the site eventually was preserved as a Canadian cultural and literary
landmark. (See: “The Little House that Joy Saved,” by Ann-Marie Metten, pp. 256-277).
e, infant mortality (1926-2006).
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