Bridging Differences: Decolonization and Diversity in Canadian Literature

Date/Time: Sun Nov 25, 2018, 2:00 pm
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Location: Calgary Central Library, 800 3 St SE, Calgary, AB

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Perhaps the most important thing the three award-winning authors Carmen Aguirre, Larissa Lai and Liz Howard have in common is that there is nothing common about their background or their approaches to literature. The most significant thing they share is that through their diverse voices, they are changing the landscape of Canadian literature.

Carmen Aguirre is a daughter of Chilean parents exiled in Canada, Liz Howard grew up in the Northern Ontario Treaty 9 community of Chapleau, and Larissa Lai was born in California of Asian heritage and raised in Newfoundland. They now come together in Calgary on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. to talk about their experiences in making their voices heard in Canada.

“In a way, these authors are creating their own space to tell their stories and at the same time, adding more voices and redefining the landscape of Canadian literature,” explains Pablo Policzer, director of UCalgary’s Latin American Research Centre (LARC). “The future of Canadian literature lies in its diversity.”

The three will be featured at Bridging Differences: Decolonization and Diversity in Canadian Literature, hosted by the LARC and by the Calgary Public Library. Just like these authors, the LARC is also creating a new space and expanding its mandate with its Dialogues Series.

“The Latin American Research Centre is also breaking new ground by engaging in a dialogue on Canadian literature by bringing together three award-winning writers with diverse perspectives and voices,” says Policzer. The dialogue will take place in the Performance Hall in the stunning new Central Library, probably the city’s the most suitable place to talk about new perspectives and stories.

These three award-winning authors making waves in Canadian literary circles will discuss how different perspectives are changing the scope and texture of Canadian literature. Each writer has sought to translate knowledge found in the Ojibwe, Chilean and Chinese cultures to a Canadian audience, and to define a space for themselves to write and publish in Canada.

Each writer’s different background and personal style promises an informative and rich discussion. Carmen Aguirre is a multiple-award-winning author, actor, and playwright. She has written and co-written 25 plays, including Chile Con Carne, The Refugee Hotel, and Blue Box. Her books include CBC Canada Reads winner Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter and its bestselling sequel Mexican Hooker #1 and My Other Roles Since the Revolution.

Liz Howard is a young poet and writer. Her first book of poetry, Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent, won the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize. Her chapbook Skullambient was shortlisted for the 2012 bpNichol Chapbook Award. Her poetry has appeared on literary journals such as The Capilano Review and The Puritan. She is the University of Calgary’s 2018-19 Canadian Writer-in-Residence.

Larissa Lai is a poet, novelist, critic, and educator. She is the author of three novels, The Tiger Flu, When Fox is a Thousand, and Salt Fish Girl; two books of poetry, sybil unrest (with Rita Wong) and Automaton Biographies, among others. She is a recipient of the Astraea Foundation Emerging Writers’ Award and an associate professor at the University of Calgary.