Wanted on our voyage

By Lawrence Bailey

A literary giant is poised to leave his mark on the University of Calgary. And he’ll be bringing someone with him.

The Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writers Programme has announced the established writer and rising Canadian literary star who will be spending a lot of time on campus this year. Renowned Canadian author Timothy Findley is the Distinguished Visiting Writer while 32-year-old Eden Robinson, a native of Kitimat, British Columbia, is the 2001/02 Canadian Writer-in-Residence.

"It’s the same as pairing a software developer with Bill Gates or a basketball player with Michael Jordan," said Robinson in regards to the program’s pairing of an established writer with an emerging one. "It gives emerging writers a real career boost."

Findley’s stay will be brief but includes two free public readings and an onstage interview with Elanor Watchel of CBC Radio. The first of his readings is slated for Sept. 20 in the Eckhart-Gramatté Hall of the Rozsa Centre at 7:30 p.m. Findley’s term ends on Oct. 13.

"Findley brings recognition, excitement and a sense of celebration to the program," explained Markin-Flanagan Programme Coordinator Sandra Vida. "Attaching Findley to the U of C brings media and public attention and increases the profile of the university."

Robinson’s role as Canadian Writer-in-Residence is lower profile and more hands on. She will have one-to-one consultations with regional writers and work towards promoting reading and writing, all while pursuing her personal writing.

"It’s split down the middle, 50 per cent writing, 50 per cent promotion," said Robinson about the division of labour. "This balance helps ensure that I have writing time while introducing me to the community."

The program was established eight years ago with a generous contribution by two local benefactors and has successfully brought writers including Alberto Manguel, Tony Kushner and Michael Ondaatje to the U of C.

"There would be no program without the generosity of donors and participation of citizens," reads a statement from the Markin-Flanagan Programme Steering Committee. "This program enriches the vibrant cultural environment in Calgary."

A public reading by Robinson at the Engineered Air Theatre Thurs., Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. marks the official launch of residency and is free and open to the public.

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