Jan Zwicky

Jan Zwicky is a musician, philosopher and award-winning poet. In 1999, she won the Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry for Songs for Relinquishing the Earth. Her Thirty-seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences was also nominated for the Pat Lowther Award and the Dorothy Livesay Prize in 2006.

Robert Finley

Robert Finley divides his time between Halifax and Hobart, Tasmania. He teaches literature and writing at the Université Ste. Anne in Pointe de l’Église, Nova Scotia. He is the author of The Accidental Indies (2000).

Patrick Friesen

Patrick Friesen, former Winnipegger, now lives in Vancouver and teaches at Kwantlen University College. Among his most recent work is a poetry collection, the breath you take from the lord. A collection of essays, Interim: Essays and Meditations, and a new book of poetry are both due in 2006.

Aislinn Hunter

Aislinn Hunter is a poet, essayist, and novelist. She is the author of six books, including the novel The World Before Us, which won the Ethel Wilson Prize. She lives in British Columbia.

Link to author web site (external page)

Anne Simpson

Anne Simpson has published five collections of poetry, one of which, Loop, won the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize. Her prose publications include The Marram Grass: Poetry & Otherness (2009) and three novels, most recently Speechless. Her mentorship of other writers has taken her to libraries and universities across Canada. She lives on an estuary in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, sharing space with ravens, herons, and bald eagles.

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A Ragged Pen: Essays on Poetry & Memory
Jan Zwicky, Robert Finley, Patrick Friesen, Aislinn Hunter, Anne Simpson

2006 / Essays / $22.95
9781554470303 / Trade paper / 96 pp

A Ragged Pen brings to the page five essays on memory. First delivered in Vancouver in the spring of 2005, these talks—by Robert Finley, Patrick Friesen, Aislinn Hunter, Anne Simpson and Jan Zwicky—examine the narrative challenges, lyric energy and questions of verity that surround the subject of memory in a creative context.

Finley’s essay searches out appropriate, genuine voices for memories. Comparing photo narrative projects, his own and a friend’s, he proposes a form of storytelling that incorporates both memory and creation, a dialogue that speaks to, rather than for, the past. Within the discussion of narrative Zwicky posits a distinction between lyric and narrative treatments of memories, what each accepts about and tries to do with what memory delivers, and whether a difference in the degree of verity is part of this distinction. Hunter picks up the thread of verity and examines the discrepancy between seeing and imagining, the notion of “real” and the power of memory, drawing on the work of Borges, Seamus Heaney and recent science that calls into question commonly held perceptions of truth. Friesen begins with a childhood memory he suspects may be an invention, and opens onto the role of longing in memory and in poetry, challenging the assumption of past experience in longing, arguing for a note of loss in every new experience, a longing for what has never been. Simpson uses a myth of longing, that of Orpheus and Eurydice, to dig beneath metaphor, bringing new ideas and influences to the role of metaphor in social interactions and artistic endeavours.

Together these essays make fascinating crossovers and offer fresh insight on memory and art. A Ragged Pen is a valuable new contribution to the study of poetics and narrative philosophy.

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