December 2015

Were it not for

Were it not for two creative writing classes at Brandon University, Monday evening would have been much duller. On December 7th, students from two classes (Di Brandt’s Intermediate Workshop in Creative Writing 30:356: Multi-Genre Multimedia Disjunctive Poetic Narrative Dream Text and Dale Lakevold’s Creative Non-Fiction Writing 30:352) presented excerpts from the works they have been creating this term. The large audience heard translated poems, personal reflections, true stories, and much more. The diversity was astounding. Congratulations to all the participants, and thank you for sharing your work.

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New Library Resource: OED Online

Grimalkin. Engleimous. Naology.

Confused? The Oxford English Dictionary can help. BU students and faculty now have online access to the Oxford English Dictionary, “the definitive record of the English language.” This is big news. The OED is the place to find the meanings, origins, and historical usages of words, and now it’s available online.

To access the resource, go to the library main page and choose “Oxford English Dictionary” from the “Reference Links” drop-down list. Then bask in the glory of an expanded vocabulary.

Creative Arts on display: Di Brandt’s questions i asked my mother

20151202_163558_HDRThe BU Library Gathering Space was filled to the brim on December 2nd for the book launch of Di Brandt’s 30th anniversary edition of questions i asked my mother, published by Turnstone Press. The event was part of the HAWKWEED Literary Forum, generously co-sponsored by Turnstone Press and the Dean of Arts office.

The book launch began with a brief artist talk by Becky Chinn, who painted the beautiful new cover art for the book. Chinn exhibited a range of her watercolours painted in a variety of landscapes she has lived in or visited, from southwestern Manitoba, to San Fransisco, to China and southern Europe.

Betty Braaksma, BU Chief Librarian, gave an eloquent introduction of Di Brandt, citing her (and other’s) appreciation for Di Brandt’s poetry and many other publications. Braaksma, citing numerous scholarly and professional reactions to Di Brandt’s work, emphasized the cultural impact of her poetry in Canada and the rest of the world.

Di Brandt then reminisced about the literary landscape in which the book first appeared, one in which neither women’s nor Mennonite’s voices were prominent. She also mentioned the important role of her writing group, which supported and spurred on her writing. Brandt concluded her brief talk by reading some of the moving and eloquent poems that made the book a bestseller.

As an additional treat, Sarah Hall then sang some traditional German Mennonite folksongs as sung in the traditionalist Mennonite villages of Di Brandt’s childhood.

Visual arts, Poetry, Song. The event was a truly multi-disciplinary one, exemplifying also the ethos of the Creative Arts degree offered at Brandon University.

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Tardiff. More photos…

November 2015

Flash Fiction Friday: Fresh and Frosty


Meeting in the beautiful, open, and inspiring Gathering Space in the BU library, students and faculty in the English and CW Club met for another installation of Flash Fiction Friday on November 27. This time, writers were challenged to incorporate three words into their stories: “tractor,” “to scamper,” and “outrageously.” Everyone rose to the occasion, and the stories varied wildly: from a field study of the common tractor, to a childhood alien encounter, to an adventure tale of two cute creatures, to a tragic story of unfortunate mice. Laughter, tears, and awe ensued.

October 2015

Freaky Flash Fiction Friday

October 30, 2015: The first ever Flash Fiction Friday, hosted by the English and Creative Writing Club, was freaky! Held in the BUSU Boardroom, a small room (with incredibly comfy chairs) on the second floor of the BUSU building, the Flash Fiction event saw students and faculty members write impromptu stories on zombies, just in time for the Hallowe’en season. The twist: half-way through their stories, participants learned (to their horror) that they had to use the word “barbie” as well. The results were hilarious! Keep your eyes open for future Flash Fiction Fridays.


Tonight It’s Poetry: A Volunteer’s Perspective on CFSW 2015

Nathan MacKrith

I had the splendiferous opportunity of volunteering at and reveling as and audience member at the the eleventh Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW), held in Saskatoon, SK from October 18th to 25th 2015. CFSW is an annual festival produced by Spoken Word Canada (aka SpoCan), which moves across the country as the years roll by, bringing the wonders of CFSW to all parts of this great nation. The inaugural CFSW took place in 2004 in Ottawa, ON. Next year the festival will be hosted by the city of Winnipeg. The dates have yet to be announced.

The winners of this year’s team slams was Saskatoon’s own team “Tonight It’s Poetry”, with runner-up teams from Montreal, Hamilton, and Toronto.

There were other daily events at CFSW as poetry showcases at Drift Cafe and poetry-related workshops at Paved arts gallery Monday to Friday (19-24) afternoon. There were many day events such as the Sunday October 18th’s Last Chance Slam at Woods Alehouse, the National Showcase on Thursday the 22nd at the Broadway Theater, and the Underground Slam held on Friday the 23rd at Paved arts gallery, CFSW Slam Finals on Saturday the 24th, with the final show of the festival happening at Woods Alehouse on Sunday October 25th.

I really enjoyed being able to volunteer at CFSW. As a poet and Creative Writing and Drama double major at Brandon university, I felt extremely privileged to serve and observe and interact with so many young Canadians who care about and are adamantly passionate about many of the same social justice issues that I care deeply about. I feel very fortunate to have been participate in series of events where I was able to glean wisdom and cultural and regional perspective on many issues from poets and fellow lovers of the literary arts. A special thank you goes out to professors Dale Lakevold, Di Brandt, and Rosanne Gasse from BU’s English and Creative Writing Department for their advice and aid in obtaining the financial support that made this trip possible for me.