Monday, September 07, 2009

Under the Influence


Influency 7: A Toronto Poetry Salon SCS 1777

Featuring eight guest poets:
Ronna BLOOM • Stephen CAIN • Christopher DODA • Kate EICHHORN •
Nathaniel G MOORE • Lisa ROBERTSON • Trish SALAH • Jacqueline TURNER

Eleven weeks, Wednesday evenings: Sept 30 to Dec 9, 2009, 7pm to
9:30pm (conversation may go to 10 pm)
University of Toronto St. George Campus, location TBA (downtown, central)
Instructor: Margaret Christakos,
Fee: $235, plus $120 book package

University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies Creative Writing Program or tel: 416-978-2400, Press 2.

Eight accomplished poets working in distinctive styles will appear as
both guest readers and peer critics in this unique lecture-reading
series hosted by Margaret Christakos. Each poet's critique of a
colleague’s work will be followed with a reading by the poet under
discussion. A group discussion led by Christakos will follow. Students
will accumulate critical vocabulary to discuss more fluently the
divergences of approach, motive, process and product typical of
Toronto's multitraditional literary culture.

Sept 30: Introductory Talk by Margaret Christakos; book distribution;
small group formation and activities
Oct 7: Trish SALAH on Ronna BLOOM’s Permiso (Pedlar)
Oct 14: Kate EICHHORN on Stephen CAIN’s American Standard/Canada Dry
(Coach House)
Oct 21: Margaret CHRISTAKOS on Christopher DODA’s Aesthetics Lesson (Mansfield)
Oct 28: Christopher DODA on Nathaniel G MOORE’s Let’s Pretend We Never
Met (Pedlar)
Nov 4: Nathaniel G MOORE on Lisa ROBERTSON’s The Men (Bookthug)
Nov 11: Stephen CAIN on Lisa ROBERTSON’s Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul
Whip (Coach House)
Nov 18: Lisa ROBERTSON on Trish SALAH’s Wanting in Arabic (Tsar)
Nov 25: Jacqueline TURNER on Kate EICHHORN’s Fond (Bookthug)
Dec 2: Ronna BLOOM on Jacqueline TURNER’s Seven into Even (ECW)
Dec 9: Registrants’ Intertext Presentations and Salon Closing Party

Influency 7: A Toronto Poetry Salon follows on the six successful
previous salons inaugurated in Fall 2006, housed in the Creative
Writing program at the U of T School of Continuing Studies. This
unique lecture-reading course features a flow-chart series of lectures
and readings by eight contemporary Toronto guest poets in person. This
Fall 2009 session runs eleven weeks, with Weeks 2 through 10 feature
an intro by facilitator Margaret Christakos, an original 40-minute
lecture by one of the participating poets on the work of one of their
colleague poets, and a half-hour live reading by the poet under
discussion. A 40-min (plus) facilitated exchange of responses and
ideas then takes place among the “critic,” poet and course

Students buy a book package of 9 titles at the first class. The class
reads an assigned book of poetry each week in preparation for the
evening’s guest poet. There will be nine books studied this session.
In the week after a given lecture/reading, registrants compose written
responses to the poetics and ideas encountered during the class and
during their own consideration of the poetry being studied.
Registrants may email their weekly responses to the whole class
thereby increasing the level and complexity of conversation. The last
class is devoted to the delivery by registrants of their own prepared
observations on the interesting interrelationships they find among
some of the poets’ works studied.

Who takes Influency? Some registrants are contemporary writers engaged
in the forward edge of their own innovative writing, others are former
poetry fans returning to the study of contemporary poetry after years
of being separated from it, still others are wondering if poetry could
be a pleasurable way to jumpstart their thinking. The salon generally
includes a mix of registrants of all ages, producing a stimulating
field of audience and opinion. The form of learning in the class is
respectful of students at all levels; those beginning will find a
learning curve steep and yet full of excitement. There is no
prerequisite for this course and registrants may return for multiple
salons as the roster of poets changes each term— generally about one
third to one half of the class are return registrants, making the
class socially fun and warm. The class atmosphere tends to be lively,
supportive, inquiring and hospitable. Small group structure in the
class pairs up newcomers and experienced poetry readers, capitalizing
on diversity.

Influency has been designed to create a contemporary cultural space of
discussion and contemplation about what poetry “means” and how it
activates aesthetic response in various readers. It emerged as a
strategy to allow audiences to enlarge their taste in styles and forms
of poetry, and to help produce conversation and community across
divergent notions of what “poetry” has been, is and can include. The
active engagement of the listener/reader/respondent is crucial to a
healthy poetry scene; Too often we read and hear other people’s
writing but do not count our own responsive contribution as an equal
part of how poems produce cultural dialogue.

Over this eleven-week course, there is an opportunity for registrants
at all levels to broaden the field for the critical reception of
contemporary poetry, and to build readerly and writerly community.

The complete course outline for SCS 17777 Influency 7: A Toronto
Poetry Salon may be obtained by emailing
Registration is open NOW.