Poetry anthology celebrates 40th

September 22, 2005, vol. 34, no. 2
By Kate Hildebrandt

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Faculty within SFU's English department decided to mark the university's 40th anniversary with an anthology of poetry. A very good idea, considering SFU is home to some of Canada's internationally acclaimed, award-winning poets.

“It's amazing how many very good poets we have to draw from,” says editor Stephen Collis, assistant professor, SFU graduate, doctoral scholar and a published poet himself. “The writings show such radical thinking which says something about SFU, its uniqueness, and how poets were embraced here from the start.”

Titled Companions and Horizons, the anthology includes work from 41 poets including: George Bowering, SFU professor emeritus, Canada's first poet laureate and two-time Governor General award winner; Robin Blaser, retired SFU English professor and legendary Berkeley renaissance poet who recently received the Order of Canada (and, says Collis, remains worthy of far more recognition than he receives); Roy Miki, SFU English professor who won the 2002 Governor General's award for Surrender, which Collis described as “a response to this century through political, intellectual and emotional word play.”

While Collis admits he's not big on anthologies, this publication is different.

“Publishing for posterity doesn't often attract a broad audience so I kept an eye out for what might appeal to those beyond the poetry community.” That appeal, he believes, is in how SFU welcomed and, over the years, became a gathering place for some of the world's most avant-garde voices.

“Typically, the poetry world is small and marked by divisive camps,” says Collis. “So it's interesting to see the poetry unique to SFU - a poetry that's distinctly intellectual, investigative, erotic, emotional, and yet playful.”

The launch events will include an afternoon of readings for Companions and Horizons on Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. in special collections at the Bennett library at SFU Burnaby and an evening of celebration at 7 p.m. at the Honey Lounge at 455 Abbott St. in Vancouver.

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