UVic’s Writing Department celebrated its Annual Faculty Reading Night on September 23rd and, as always, it was a hoot. Introduced by D.W. Wilson, faculty and graduate students of the Writing Department not only displayed their creativity and mastery of the English language, but also their innate and playful sense of humour as they were ushered to stage with a joke.
The first performance of the night, a clip from Maureen Bradley’s new full-length film Two 4 One, gave a truly inspiring picture not only of the quality of the writing at UVic, but also of how that quality transfers into production. The clip well acted, hilarious, and emotionally poignant, dropping the audience at the movie’s mid-point (no spoilers here, my friends).
Other highlights from the faculty’s contribution to the reading included, but were certainly not limited to, Carla Funk’s “persona non-fiction” story, which infused the non-fiction style with Funk’s full-bodied poetic language, Bill Gaston’s taste-test reading of his new short story collection Juliet Was a Surprise, which titillated readers with the first paragraph of each story, Tim Lilburn’s classically mind-blowing poetry reading, which stimulated a desire to immediately immerse oneself in nature, and the hilarious excerpt from Kevin Kerr’s “You Are Very Star,” which captured all the competitive spirit of elementary school science fairs.
Though the faculty held their own, the graduate students were without a doubt the surprise and glory of the evening. Sam Shelstad, the first reader of the night, shared his short story “This Deer Won’t Look Both Ways,” a comedic and memorable piece told from the perspective of a daredevil deer, high on the thrill of non-fatal car collisions; Danielle Janess’s authoritative and evocative reading from her collection of poetry, told as clips from a roll of film, was among the most memorable verse that I have ever heard; and Michael LaPointe’s writing in his short story “Impartial History of the Break Up” had as much elegance and wit as the work of any of my favourite authors.
As an undergraduate member of UVic’s Writing Department, I am always deeply inspired by the Annual Faculty Reading. I am at once filled with lofty creative aspirations and an unquenchable envy as I covet the talent of these writers. If you didn’t get around to the reading this year, I highly recommend checking it out in the future. It challenges you to set your creative bar high and provides the amazing opportunity to see how successful students of this department can become.