Award-winning Métis Poet Presents Gustafson Lecture Oct. 23

Katherena Vermette

October 21, 2014 - 9:15am

A year after winning the 2013 Governor General’s Award for Poetry, Métis writer and poet Katherena Vermette will be at Vancouver Island University (VIU) October 23 to read from her work and speak about “Writing the Medicine Wheel.” The presentation in Building 355, Room 203 begins at 7:30 pm.

The Governor General’s Award-winning author of North End Love Songs, a book of poems set in the Winnipeg neighbourhood where she grew up and later returned with her young daughters, has been named VIU’s Gustafason Distinguished Poetry Chair this year.

English professor Dr. Frances Sprout said those who come out to the free presentation will enjoy a reading from a poet whose work is very accessible to the reader, with “the concrete clarity of its depictions somehow making room for beauty, celebration, and joy while explicating tragic loss and despair.”

Professor Dawn Thompson, who teaches and researches Canadian and Indigenous Literature, notes that Vermette’s work has been widely praised, with CBC including her in its list of 12 “2014 Writers to Watch.”

“Vermette’s imagery in North End Love Songs is surprising in that it is at the same time exceedingly elegant and very sensual; she depicts an urban reality, at times a dangerous and frightening one, which is nonetheless full of rustling green leaves and feathers,” Thompson said.

Vermette’s poetry and fiction have appeared in several literary magazines and anthologies, including Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia.

The Gustafson Distinguished Poetry Chair was established in 1998 from the estate of the late, preeminent Canadian poet Ralph Gustafson and his wife, Betty. The Chair has been held by celebrated poets Michael Crummey, Dennis Lee, Jan Zwicky, Don McKay, Carol Ann Duffy, Daphne Marlatt, Tom Wayman, Dionne Brand, Don Domanski, Liz Lochhead, Robert Bringhurst, Patrick Lane, Gary Geddes, Susan Musgrave, and Patricia Young, some of whom have had their lectures published as chapbooks. The Gustafson Distinguished Poets Series is sponsored by VIU's Faculty of Arts and Humanities, with support from the Vancouver Writers' Festival.



Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

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