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Vol 39  No 3
Sept. 21, 2006


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Memorial’s newest writer-in-residence

Writing rocks

by Leslie Vryenhoek

Don McKay is available to meet with writers at any stage, working in any genre. (Photo by Leslie Vryenhoek)

Don McKay has settled into his campus office and taken up the role as Memorial’s newest writer-in-residence. The two-time Governor General Award-winning poet and wilderness essayist said it didn’t take long for the word to get out, and business to start rolling in. He is looking forward to a busy semester of talking with aspiring and established writers, visiting university classes and giving public readings ­ but truth be told, he’s even more excited about the rocks.

“I’m very interested in geology, so Newfoundland was an obvious place for me to come,” Mr. McKay said. His most recent book of poetry, Strike/Slip, builds on the geological and mineralogical features in his home province of British Columbia. “I’m not done with rocks ­ or I guess rocks aren’t done with me.”

While here, he intends to take in the natural attractions. “It doesn’t just feed my writing, it’s the basis of it,” he explained, “Just to stand and gawk is very important. Imagination is also important ­ and linguistic juice ­ but for me, observation is crucial.”

In addition to writing numerous books of poetry and non-fiction and winning several national awards, Mr. McKay is the co-editor and co-publisher of Brick Books, the associate director of poetry for the Banff Centre’s writers’ program and a faculty member of In the Field, a low-residency program in contemplative philosophy, environmental thought and writing at St. Peter’s College, Muenster, Saskatchewan.

Formerly, he taught in and was director of the University of New Brunswick’s creative writing program. He is also a former editor of The Fiddlehead.

Sponsored by Memorial’s Department of English and the Faculty of Arts, the writer-in-residence serves as a resource for the entire community. Mr. McKay is available to meet with writers at any stage, working in any genre. This service is provided free of charge, and is available to everyone, not just those with ties to the university.

Writers who wish to meet with Mr. McKay are asked to drop off a sample of their work to the university’s English Department office (Arts and Administration Building, room A-3026), and he will contact the writer to schedule an appointment. Those who wish to simply arrange a meeting can also leave a message for Mr. McKay at 754-2154.

He does, however, prefer to see work in advance of a meeting. “It’s better if I can spend a little time with the writing beforehand.”

The writer-in-residence will also hold drop-in office hours in room A-2047 of the Arts and Administration Building. These will usually occur from 1-4 p.m. on Wednesdays. However, in the first and third week of October, Mr. McKay will hold office hours on Monday, Oct. 2 and 16 instead of Wednesday.

He will also give a public reading on Thursday, Sep. 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Petro-Canada Hall. Reading Rocks is sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Dean of Arts and the Department of English.

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