Tag: Douglas Gibson event; Terry Fallis event; writers; publishers; London Writers Society

Pay Attention In Class

Pay Attention In Class

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my high school years. To paraphrase Dickens, “It was neither the best of times, nor the worst of times.” Which, I suppose, is writer-speak for ordinary or, as my son would say, Meh!

But one thing that stood out for me was English class. It was my favourite subject as far back as elementary school. Even in grade one, I enjoyed putting pencil to paper in printing class and for years kept my printing practise book. You know the kind—blue and red lines to measure full or half height of letters, with a shiny gold star in the corner.

Anyway, I’ve been racking my brain for the textbook used to study CanLit back then. If I recall correctly—and at my age the accuracy of any memory is questionable—and believe it was Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature by Margaret Atwood, the 1972 edition.

In it, Atwood examines themes in Canadian literature such as survival, nature the monster, and ice women vs earth mothers. It was my introduction to the poetry of Al Purdy, Irving Layton, Northrop Frye, and Earle Birney, as well as the concept of the mythological feminine categories of maiden-mother-crone, and Atwood’s theory on the overabundance of victims in Canadian literature.

That class and Atwood’s book led me to read Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel, Earle Birney’s poem “David”, Atwood’s novel, The Edible Woman, and her poem “Siren’s Song.” And those are just the works I can easily recall. (See previous comment on age and memory accuracy.)

What prompted this trip down memory lane is the upcoming London Writers Society event, An Evening With Douglas Gibson in May. (I am on the organizing committee.)

As an editor and publisher, Gibson was a primary influencer of Canadian literature, including many of the authors I studied back in CanLit class—Margaret Atwood, Morley Callaghan, Alice Munro, Roberson Davies and many others.  

Having recently read Gibson’s Stories About Storytellers, I wish I could go back to class. I want to read all the great Canadian authors I missed the first time. But instead of returning to school, I have settled for compiling a reading list, formulated from Gibson’s entertaining tales, that I will place with my stacks of books-to-be-read. So many books, so little time. Sigh.

And, of course, I will be attending An Evening With Douglas Gibson to hear The Canadian Cartographer, as he is called, being interviewed by Terry Fallis, two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. It’s sure to be a fantastic evening.

Hope to see you there!

(Tickets are only $15 in advance. Sponsorship opportunities available.)

Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash   

Follow Donna