By Rachel Woodward, October 4 2016 —
For the past few decades, Calgary poetry has flourished in the literary and arts community. To reflect on the city’s history, Calgary’s Derek Beaulieu and Ottawa’s rob mclennan compiled works from over 30 Calgarian authors into a 180-page collection titled The Calgary Renaissance.
Beaulieu describes the book as “a cross-section of some of the experimental, risk-taking prose and poetry that Calgary has produced over the last two decades.”
Beaulieu was Calgary’s Poet Laureate from 2014–2016 and during his time in the role he worked on the anthology. He says that his time writing in Calgary — where he has lived since childhood — has been the best for his artistic growth as a writer.
“It’s one of the most dynamic places I’ve ever seen to be a writer on earth. It’s the best place to actually become a writer, to be involved in the community, it’s constantly reinventing itself,” he says. “The level of conversation and engagement around poetry and prose in Calgary is simply unmatched.”
Mclennan works as an editor in Ottawa and Beaulieu says he gave an “outside” view in selecting works.
Writers featured in The Calgary Renaissance also include current and former University of Calgary faculty including Suzette Mayr and Christian Bök. Jordan Scott — also a U of C alumni — is featured in the collection.
“[Scott] actively tries and engages his own stutter, his own interest in the natural environment within his writing,” Beaulieu says. “He’s writing ways to engage with the very language that makes him pause.”
The book will be available across the city at various literary hubs like Shelf Life Books and Pages starting on Oct. 12. The book will also be sold at Indigo and Chapters starting Nov. 1.
Beaulieu says he hopes the collection will be used as an educational tool for students working with literature and a way for the city to reflect on its extensive art production.
“Calgary is really good at forgetting what has happened here. What this book really did was help me remember and stop and look back on some of the writers that have been involved over the past 20 years and have an opportunity to re-learn and reflect — I re-learned my city,” he says. “A lot of students don’t realize that writing is something that is not just happening here, in Calgary, but it’s happening by their peers. It’s not something that happened long ago, somewhere else by dead people, it’s something that is happening here and now.”
The Calgary Renaissance will be available in stores starting Oct. 12.