With readings from world-class authors such as David Adams Richards and Dennis Lee, the Trent University Writers Reading Series has wrapped up another successful year, bringing writers to Peterborough to read from their works to the University community and the public at large.
For its 30th season, Mr. Richards and Mr. Lee, both members of the Order of Canada, were joined by Trent graduates Jessica Whitehead and Richard Harrison, Journey Prize winner Naben Ruthnum, and the first francophone of the series Catherine Leroux.
Writers rave about the smart and engaged audiences at these intimate readings held at Catharine Parr Traill College. Dennis Lee, for example, has been doing readings at Trent since 1972 but said his recent reading was one of the most memorable.
“I asked listeners to stay with me through a wild variety of work, from story-poems that children enjoy to craggy, challenging poems about our despoliation of the planet,” says Mr. Lee. “And it wasn’t just the content that varied so much; the music of the various poems was all over the map. Judging by people’s attentiveness, and by their acute questions and observations afterwards, I can tell you I don’t recall doing any reading — anywhere — with a more attuned, adventurous group of listeners.”
Benefit for Trent students
The series, hosted by Trent’s English department, provides a valuable resource for Trent students in courses such as Canadian Studies, Canadian Literature, Children’s Literature and Creative Writing. Students say they benefit from the intimate settings and high-calibre writers.
“I have to say, the Writers Reading Series has really made my time as a part-time student and aspiring writer worthwhile at Trent and motivated me to take more courses each year,” described one student. “The calibre of the writers and the incredible inspiration derived from being able to experience the reading in such an intimate space, with a nice informal reception after, is essential to the community atmosphere and the building of powerful connections for young writers and other writers in the community.”
Series host Dr. Lewis MacLeod, a faculty member in the English Literature department, says students who come to all of the events in a season are gifted a limerick from one of the writers.
“It’s quite a thrill for an undergraduate student to get a custom-crafted joke poem from a successful writer,” Professor MacLeod says. “At this point, I think our students have received limericks from at least three winners of the Governor General’s award for poetry, a Giller Prize winner and a whole bunch of other highly decorated authors.”
The readings are held weekly at Catharine Parr Traill College beginning at 7 p.m. Following each reading, authors and audience members are invited to an informal reception at The Trend.
The Writers Reading Series is sponsored by The Barbara Rooke Lecture Series, The Symons Trust Fund and Catharine Parr Traill College with additional support from Frost Centre for Canadian Studies, Cultural Studies, Canadian Studies, Public Texts, Nind Fund, and the Department of English Literature.