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‘The Line Has Shattered': New Documentary Explores 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference

By Harriet Staff

Line trailer from Non-Inferno Media on Vimeo.

Check out this new documentary by Robert McTavish that’s all about the 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference!

From the Simon Fraser University Library:

Narrated by poet Phyllis Webb, who chronicled the event at the time, The Line Has Shattered is a sixty-minute documentary film that revisits the ’63 Conference and hears from a number of its participants half a century later.

The Vancouver Poetry Conference, hosted by the University of British Columbia in the summer of 1963, is seen by many as a landmark event in the history and development of West Coast Canadian and North American innovative poetry – and indeed a major early manifestation of the Sixties West Coast zeitgeist.

Organized by UBC English professor Warren Tallman and American poet Robert Creeley, the conference was an intense, freewheeling three-week program of discussions, workshops, lectures, and readings at which a rising generation of Canadian and American poets, including George Bowering, Daphne Marlatt, Fred Wah, Jamie Reid, Michael Palmer, and Clark Coolidge, was exposed to and, in many cases, profoundly influenced by the personalities and ‘New American’ open-form poetics of the visiting poet-instructors Allen Ginsberg, Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, Creeley, Robert Duncan, and Margaret Avison. For many of the student participants the conference played a key role in providing them faith that the pursuit and practice of poetry could constitute a meaningful calling and life’s work.

Robert McTavish is a Canadian documentary film-maker whose works include Ghosts on the Land (2001), Fiddler’s Map (2003) and What To Make of It All?: The Life and Poetry of John Newlove (2006). He also edited A Long Continual Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove (Chaudiere Books, 2007, afterword by Jeff Derksen) which was hailed by the Globe and Mail as “a fitting monument to the poet’s consummate craftsmanship, and a cause for national celebration.”

See you at the movies!

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, June 13th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.