By Caitlynn Cummings
Why is it that telling a story is now of much more political consequence than telling the truth or having ideas?
This is the question renowned Québécois poet Nicole Brossard will pose in her upcoming Paget/Hoy Speakers Series lecture, The Volatility of Meaning, on Monday, March 11, 2013.
Brossard has been pushing the boundaries of literature for over four decades, and has published more than thirty books since 1965, including These Our Mothers, Lovhers, Mauve Desert, and Baroque at Dawn. Her honours include two Governor General’s awards for poetry; the Prix Athanase-David, Québéc’s highest literary honour; and the Canada Council’s Molson Prize. In all her work – poetry, novels, essays, and genre-bending experiments – Brossard remains highly attuned to language, and the politics therein.
While stories are central to humanity, Brossard states they can be dangerous. We need to be told stories, but storytelling has now developed into a technique of management used to impose political agendas and sell products. “Where is the writer, the intellectual, the feminist in that landscape of constantly morphing language?” Brossard asks.
These concerns are not new for Brossard. Dubbed “the midwife of Québécois poetic feminism,” she has been on the forefront of literary activism and the avant-garde since the 1960s. Athabasca University sums it up nicely: “Brossard writes against patriarchy, linearity, and the language and textuality that she understands to colonize and silence women. She is fiercely dedicated to feminism and earnestly believes in the power of literature to evoke change.”
Brossard references this belief in one of the opening poems of her most recent book, White Piano:
language I’ll say yes
White Piano has been translated from the French by University of Calgary English professor Robert Majzels and fellow poet Erin Mouré, and will be available for purchase at The Volatility of Meaning on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. in the Taylor Family Digital Library’s Gallery Hall.
Admittance to this event is free but registration is required. Please RSVP at english.ucalgary.ca/PagetHoy/2013rsvp.
For more information about the Paget/Hoy Speakers Series, click here.