Skip to main content

Writers Read: 15 poets, playwrights and novelists

This year, the popular Concordia literary series plays host to a record-setting line-up.
September 16, 2015
By Tom Peacock

Concordia’s speaker series Writers Read is starting its 2015-16 season with the pedal fully to the floor. Three authors will bring their words and thoughts to campus in September alone, with six more to come before Christmas.

Series director Sina Queyras, a professor in the Department of English, says Writers Read will welcome 15 scribes between now and the end of March. “They’re coming from a wide variety of places, bringing very diverse concerns and questions.”

The packed schedule is the result of new collaborations with Concordia’s School of Canadian Irish Studies, the Centre for Expanded Poetics at the Université de Montreal, and the Librarie Drawn & Quarterly bookshop.

September 22: Jordan Tannahill

Canadian playwright, filmmaker and theatre director Jordan Tannahill will kick things off on Tuesday, September 22. 

He is the author of Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays, (Playwrights Canada Press, 2014) which won the Governor General’s Award for Drama. “Jordan Tannahill challenges us to ask what makes theatre vital,” Queyras says.

Here’s a passage from Tannahill’s latest book, Theatre of the Unimpressed (Coach House 2014), a look at the current state of English-language theatre:

Had I become disenchanted with the form I had once fallen so madly in love with as a pubescent, pimple-faced suburban homo with braces? Maybe theatre was like an all-consuming high school infatuation that now, ten years later, I saw as the closeted balding guy with a beer gut he’d become. There were of course those rare moments of transcendence that kept me coming back. But why did they come so few and far between?

September 25: Mary Ruefle

On Friday, September 25, Writers Read will welcome poet Mary Ruefle to Concordia. 

The author of ten books of poetry including Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013), Ruefle is the recipient of numerous honours, including an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Queyra’s describes Ruefle as a poet and reluctant essayist who brings a unique poetic perspective and practice. “She has become very well known for poems she chisels out of existing books.”

Here’s an excerpt from Ruefle’s poem, "Saga" from Trances of the Blast:

Everything that ever happened to me
is just hanging  —  crushed
and sparkling  —  in the air,
waiting to happen to you.
Everything that ever happened to me
happened to somebody else first.

September 30: Major Jackson

American poet Major Jackson is Writers Read’s third and final guest this month. He’ll bring his words and reflections to Concordia on Wednesday, September 30.

The Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at University of Vermont, Jackson is the author of three collections of poetry, including Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia, 2002), winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Award Circle.

Roll Deep (WW Norton and Co., 2915) is his latest collection.

“Jackson is part of a generation of American poets who give voice to a fresh urban formalism that I find exciting,” Queyras says. Here’s an excerpt from Jackson’s poem, “The Dadaab Suite,” one of his Urban Renewal poems from Roll Deep:

I have come to Dadaab like an actor
on a press release, unprepared for the drained faces
of famine-fleeing refugees, my craft’s glamour
dimmed by hundreds of infant graves, children
whose lolling heads’ final drop landed on their mothers’
backs like soft stones. What beauty can I spell in
this swelter of dust?

Jordan Tannahill’s talk will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 22 in the Visual Arts Visuel (VAV) Gallery (1395 Blvd. René-Lévesque W).

Mary Ruefle will read and discuss her work beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 25, in Room 763 of the Henry F. Hall (H) Building (1455 Blvd. De Maisonneuve W).

Major Jackson will speak at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 30 in the York Amphitheatre (Room 1.605) in the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts (EV) Integrated Complex (1515 Rue St. Catherine W).

Learn more about upcoming Writers Read events.

Check out Sina Queyras giving a short reading of one of Mary Ruefle's poems.


Back to top

© Concordia University