Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Fifth Annual Large-scale Collaboration between Poets and Artists

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Dreamscape, one of the paintings from the exhibition, copyright 2012 Barbara Andersen.

Year Five of a Unique Collaboration
(Toronto, Ontario) Sunday, April 29, 2012 will feature the fifth year in which an unusual collaboration between Toronto artists and poets has produced an exhibition and reading. The venue, the Women’s Art Association of Canada (WAAC), which is housed an elegant Victorian duplex on Prince Arthur St., last year reached its 125th anniversary. “Toward Balance: Conversations in Poetry and Art” features the work of 11 artists, all of whom rent studio space in the east half of the WAAC, and the seven poets who form the Long Dash writing group.

“This started out as an exercise in ekphrasis, poetry written in response to visual art,” explains Long Dash member John Oughton. “One of our members, Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes, bought a painting from WAAC artist Marjorie Moeser, and they talked about the possibility of the poets using visual art as an inspiration. The poets and artists began meeting in one of the larger studios at the WAAC, and soon we had a first exhibition and reading, the works from which appeared in a book, Resonance. This has now almost sold out its first edition of 500.” A larger book, representing the best of five years of collaboration, is planned for publication in 2013.

What makes this collaboration unusual is its size – seldom have up to 20 people from different arts worked together like this – and its ongoing nature. “Most ekphrastic efforts are one-time things, like Keats’ ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn,’ Oughton said. “ Collaborating and meeting for so long has taught each group a lot about the process and possibilities of the other art form; in fact, some of the painters have been writing poetry and creating visual art in response to poems, and the poets have tried creating collages with the artists’ help. It’s also worth noting that many of the collaborations go beyond the literal, and find a resonance with each other not in obvious subject matter but in feeling or tone.” Previous readings/exhibitions have been well-attended, with up to 100 people in the audience and standing room only.

This year’s reading and exhibition (with printed poems on the wall beside the paintings they relate to) begins at 2:00 pm. The WAAC is located at 23 Prince Arthur Ave., and admission is free. The poets contributing this year are Clara Blackwood, Yaqoob Ghaznavi, Merle Nudelman, John Oughton, Sheila Stewart, Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes, and Elana Woolf. The artists are Barbara Andersen, Judith Davidson-Palmer, Barbara Feith, Beryl Goering, Carolyn Jongeward, Marjorie Moeser, Mary Lou Payzant, Gail Read, Hortensia Reyes, Wenda Watt, and Wendy Weaver.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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John Oughton

John Oughton is the author of several books, including Time Slip: New and Selected Poems, published by Guernica Editions.

Go to John Oughton’s Author Page