Free food was involved. The seats were packed, as were the aisles. There was laughter and contemplative nods, much applause, and did I mention free food? That sold me. That, and—of course—the opportunity to hear UVic’s Writing faculty read their work. Those were certainly reasons enough for anyone and everyone to make their way to the Human and Social Development building last Thursday for the Writing Department’s annual faculty reading event.
The faculty involved did a tremendous job. Not many a reader, if any, left the audience dissatisfied. The members of the faculty weren’t the only ones reading, however; Connor Gaston, Fiona Mitchell, Erin Fisher, and JoAnn Dionne, writing master’s candidates, read as well. Fisher’s short story, “The Goddess Lisa,” was remarkable. The premise is a futuristic Earth where the sun is nearing the point of exploding. A couple is watching the last minutes of the sun’s life from the safety of their high-tech, heat-resistant suits, and to top it all off, the woman, Lisa, is pregnant. A short piece, Fisher read it all in under five minutes, but in that time the author was able to paint vivid characters.
Other readings that shone include David Leach’s excerpt from his memoir-in-progress, which had the audience raucous in the aisles (it helped that some of them were already sitting there). Leach described his pale and hairy forearm after being released from a cast as looking “like a Wookie on a hunger strike.” Joan MacLeod said her reading from her play 2000 is not something she has ever read at a reading before, but I think it’s one she should use again. Lynne Van Luven read a moving and well-written piece called “Fallen,” from an upcoming anthology on death, that really seemed to strike a note with some of the audience.
One of the most interesting pieces of the night was Kevin Kerr’s selection of scenes from an app he recently helped put together, Circa 1948. Although the app is not yet released, it is being produced by the National Film Board. It showcases post–First World War Vancouver where the user is able to walk around various locations, the old Hotel Vancouver for example, and walk in and out of scenes involving various people. It’s like a form of “create your own adventure,” said Kerr before reading the scenes he wrote.
Adrian Southin, a second-year Writing student, said the event was an “example of great contemporary Canadian writing.” Senica Maltese, a third-year writing and English major, said, “It inspires Writing students,” and that, “it’s important to hear what your teachers are writing.” I could not agree more. I think it’s beneficial to get involved with your faculty, no matter what your major is. As Susan Summers, a second-year Writing student, said, “It’s important to be involved in the community.”
I will certainly be attending the next faculty reading night, and I encourage you to do the same. In fact, you should attend as many campus events as possible; there’s almost always free food.