Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Sometimes They Sang back in print

Today is a good day for literature Helen Potrebenko’s novel Sometimes They Sang is finally back in print after a long absence. (1986)

Pick it up and read it.

Tonight at the Western Front at Toque she will be signing copies.

Make haste!

Otherwise visit Publication Studio Vancouver to order it online. (site is a bit funky, so email them if you’re having trouble locating it)

Reading Malarky and paragraphing

A couple of Fridays ago I was invited by Michael Turner to read with him (He read from No Apologies, Gilbert’s BC Monthly, Gerry Creede and a poem by Sharon Thesen in Writing magazine) at People’s Co-op Bookstore. The reading series (organized by Rolf Maurer) intends for writers to read from work other than their own, or from their unpublished work. It’s a fresh and enticing approach.

I indulged in some “paragraphing”, selecting mainly single paragraphs from different Vancouver novels and reading them beside each other, sometimes to amplify each other or to respond to one another.  I was interested in the oppositions of emotions or perspectives that results from such. It’s something I’d like to do much more. It’s also something I’ve done/collected by accident and, often, it’s humour that draws me to a specific paragraph.

I chose to read also from Episode 6 of Malarky, my forthcoming novel (April 2012). I deliberately chose one of the most fragmented parts of the book, a section that would not necessarily lend itself so well to a more standard literary reading because the paragraphs within it respond to each other. The episode contains my favourite line in the entire book: “See how I went back and forth?” Once you’ve read the book that line should explain itself.

In that context it has been useful to convene with Denis Donoghue’s literary reckoning since he studied music and literature and music and rhythm feature keenly in the first chapter of his book.

Rhythm became vital to Malarky as I edited it. I recall vividly being at Helen Potrebenko’s for dinner & Crokinole and leaving the room to sit in her study and work on editing my book and having to read it aloud and nearly beat it into the table with my hand. I could hear the crokinole pieces clatter into the board from the other room. I was slightly sad to miss the game, but it had to be done. God Bless Helen for all she did to help me realize this book.

Back to the starting point, the reading — it was one of my most favourite readings and one of my favourite women & writer’s Renee Rodin whispered in my ear that Malarky was “delicious” as I skedaddled off to collect my son.  Joy!

Rereading the Riot Act I

               Rereading the Riot Act I. A public action I curated during my Unit/Pitt Residency. At Woodwards, intervention in front of Stan Douglas mural Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971. Two readings by Michael Barnholden & Penny Goldsmith (Walking Slow Helen Potrebenko) & 3 readings of the Riot Act, April 23, 2011.  The second event, a Performance Art Cabaret, at The Waldorf took place the same night as the 2011 Stanley Cup Riot. A publication will appear in Autumn for this project, published by Publication Studio.

Helen Potrebenko blog

Anyone looking for more info on Helen’s work needs to jog on over to her blog: Doing my share of the world’s work.

You’ll find  some of her poems and other writings are uploaded there for your delight and reading.

Taxi! intervention (not hailed cabs) @ Not Sent Letters

On Friday evening I, alongside my generous and esteemed collaborator Lori Weidenhammer, undertook my first experiment in what will be a series of experiments and ongoing interventions (“Transactions”) around Helen Potrebenko’s 1975 novel Taxi!

Thank you to everyone who engaged with both Lori and I. Lori was deployed as Security Guard (Insecurity) and as you’ll see from the photo documentation (again thanks to a varied bunch of snappers) I was installed in the Taxi! rank. It was an embodiment piece that sought to recontextualize the experience of reading and being read to. It also was an inquiry into the conditions by which we read and how might we read a forgotten text over an available and advertised text.

I have more to write about this intervention. I was grateful to Helen Potrebenko and her husband Earl for turning out and supporting the piece. Also a huge thank you to Charlene Vickers for hosting the event at her studio space and Jeremy Todd for creating space for it. It was a fascinating experience to have such an engagement with readers. And as usual within performance art offered surprise, learning and took me in directions I could not have conceived of.  For now I offer some photos of what took place.

(Also thank you to Jeremy Isao Speier for his precise, diligent work on the sign)

 

 

 

Books November

I am currently reading between four books.

Betty Lambert’s Crossings I am rereading slowly in preparation for the up and coming event at the Vancouver Public Library I am organizing. A group of us writers — Annabel Lyon, Juliane Okot Bitek, Claudia Casper, Renee Rodin and Lori Weidenhammer — are revisiting Crossings to see whether there are new readings to be had on the book. Lori, a performance artist will revisit a Lambert play)

Lambert’s Crossings is a book to be slowly digested and it is at times an immensely difficult but worthwhile digestion. The book possesses an unevenness — something that is necessary or fitting when you think about the uneven nature of the two main people it circulates around.

The other three books I am nesting with, in a remarkably different manner of reading, are three old Press Gang books:

1. Common Ground: Stories by Women

2. An Account To Settle The Story of the United Bank Workers (SORWUC).

3. Sometimes They Sang. Helen Potrebenko.

The first book I have read two or three of the stories and they made me think about space and the close confines in which the people live to each other and how people are invited into space. The second (non fiction) reads rather like an adventure (I’ve read much less successfully attempts at this in fiction!) and the third, I consider a vital novel (out of print naturally). All three contain strikes and picket lines in relation to women. I did not select them knowing this, in fact two of them I found on the side of the road. It’s curious what emerges when you open books in tandem or parallel.

Read opening bits of Manfacturing Consent, found handy-dandy as ever on the side of the road. Side of road is providing amply these days. After I read the first few paras was left with this daunting sense of Manfacturing Content and what have I manufactured myself… far too much attention on male writers!

It is a source of national shame that Helen Potrebenko’s Sometimes They Sang is out of print and remains so. It should also be a source of major feminist agitation! An agitation that would heave it back onto the page! Someday I will be in position I hope to do something about it. This slim novel must be back in palms. It’s unique in it’s rural -urban considering and the woman is looking for a job. We live in a province with a turbulent labour history and where is it on the page? People are exasperated this very minute searching for jobs and they’ll search even harder in their fiction to find someone engaged in such a task.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne is another writer whose work I should have written about.

Betty Lambert’s novel Crossings is another novel that should be revisited and I’d like to do an event that would bring some women together to revisit it and consider it today.

One of the challenges of writing such pieces is where to place them. It is becoming particularly woeful in Canada to find outlets.

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I am excited to be collaborating with a visual artist on a performance piece for the autumn. Today we had our first meeting to discuss ideas and it was an inspired and buzzing exchange.