Poet and editor John Barton named 2015 writer in residence

Aug 31st, 2015

Janet Harron

John Barton
Poet and editor John Barton named 2015 writer in residence

Poet and editor of literary magazine The Malahat Review, John Barton, will be Memorial’s fall 2015 writer in residence.

A resident of Victoria, B.C. Mr. Barton has briefly visited St. John’s on two previous occasions but is looking forward to experiencing a strong sense of place over his four-month stay.

“I live on the opposite coast in a very different kind of city, the only one in Canada with a quasi-Mediterranean climate. I relish the opportunity to immerse myself in the contrast,” said Mr. Barton who has previously been a writer in residence at the Saskatoon Public Library and at the University of New Brunswick.

He says he thinks of himself as an inspiration coach.

“I enjoy mentoring writers one on one. Often the people who come to see a writer in residence are at the beginnings of their vocation or discovering whether they have one. Working with them reminds me of motivates people – what motivated me -- to start writing, unimpaired by the careerist aspirations that can sometimes cloud a writer's ambitions for his or her work once the writerly self becomes more firmly established.”

While at Memorial he will conduct several workshops (including one on submitting to literary magazines), meet with those in the Memorial and greater community regarding their writing and host a monthly evening discussion for LGBTQ writers.

Mr. Barton will also spend time working on his current project Contrapposto. The book features three protagonists who were part of the queer community in New York City in the decades before the Stonewall Riots (events which marked the beginning of gay liberation) -- Lincoln Kirstein (the cofounder of the New York City Ballet with George Balanchine), Paul Cadmus (a painter), and George Platt Lynes (a photographer).

“Each of them approached the queer body through a different aesthetic and set of experiences, and I am interested in sketching out the composite figure that emerges as their voices are brought together.”

Mr. Barton’s first official reading will be held at the Suncor Energy Hall at 8 p.m. on September 24.  All are welcome to attend.

English professor (and chair of the writer in residence search committee) Dr. Robert Finley is really looking forward to Mr. Barton’s residency.

“John brings with him such a depth of experience not only as an important Canadian poet but as a mentor across several genres and as the editor of one of the country's foremost literary journals. His contribution to our writing program at Memorial and to the wider literary community in the province is going to be considerable,” said Dr. Finley. “We're tremendously grateful to the Faculty of Arts and to the Canada Council for the Arts, the Department of English in St. John’s and at Grenfell, and the Office of Public Engagement for making this residency possible. "

Those interested in scheduling an appointment with Mr. Barton can contact the Department of English at english@mun.ca for his office hours.