Next Reading: July 14, 2024

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We have a super hot July edition of the Dead Poets Reading Series coming up!

Save the date: Sunday, July 14th, 4pm (note the time change!), at Massy Arts Gallery.

Here is the stellar lineup:

Xi Xi (1937-2022) read by Lydia Kwa
REBECCA ELSON (1960-1999) read by Jessica Lee McMillan
JUDITH FITZGERALD (1952-2015) read by Daphne Marlatt
LYN HEJINIAN (1941-2024) read by Winston Le
The event will be hosted at the Massy Arts Gallery, at 23 East Pender Street in Chinatown, Vancouver. Please register for this free event here.

The gallery is wheelchair accessible and a gender-neutral washroom is on-site. Please refrain from wearing scents or heavy perfumes.

For more on accessibility including parking, seating, venue measurements and floor plan, and how to request ASL interpretation please visit:

Covid-19 Protocols: Masks keep our community safe and are mandatory (N95 masks are recommended as they offer the best protection). We ask that you stay home if you are showing symptoms. Thank you kindly.


Dead Poets: 

Xi Xi (1937-2022) Xi Xi was the pen name of the Hong Kong author and poet 張彥 (pinyin: Zhāng Yàn; Cantonese: Cheung Yin). Born in Shanghai in 1937, she emigrated to Hong Kong with her parents in 1950. She was a prolific poet, essayist, playwright and author of novels and short stories. She was active in the writing and publishing scene in Hong Kong, which included co-founding Su Yeh Publications, which published the work of other Hong Kong writers. In 2019, Xi Xi was the recipient of the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature. Xi Xi passed away in December 2022 at the age of 85.

REBECCA ELSON (1960-1999) Rebecca Elson was an accomplished astronomer and poet. "Becky" Elson began writing in her teens and her mother, who had been a librarian at Yale, encouraged her love of literature. Her father, a professor of Geology at McGill, took her on lengthy field trips every summer to Lake Aggasiz in Manitoba. A paragon of polymaths, Elson enrolled in Smith College at age 16. Elson spent years abroad doing research including St. Andrews in Scotland, observing nearly 1,000 glass plates to map ancient star systems-- an undertaking that further ignited her ardor for the seen and unseen universe. With a Masters in Physics from UBC and a PhD in Astronomy from Cambridge, she also managed to teach Creative Writing at Harvard. During her post-doctorate work at Princeton, Elson encountered a male-dominated atmosphere similar to UBC, which she felt favoured rote learning over practical inquiry. To create a sense of community and belonging, she started a poetry group that included Anne Berkeley. After several delays, Elson gained early access to the Hubble Telescope with her research team, developing the Elson-Fall-Freeman (EFF) luminosity profile—still used today to gauge stellar birth, evolution and death. Among many notable academic papers, Elson was published in prominent journals such as Poetry and Rialto before she died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 39. Her poems expressed a desire to physically connect with the universe and are noted for their passion, surprising metaphors and poignant mediations on dying. Elson's personal essay “From Stones to Stars” was paired with her notes and poems in the posthumous volume Responsibility to Awe (Carcanet Press).

JUDITH FITZGERALD (1952-2015) was a remarkably innovative Toronto poet, journalist, and poetry editor who also wrote reviews and literary criticism as well as sports articles. Her work should be much better known as she wrote passionate, linguistically vivid poetry about her life and wide-ranging interests in 25 volumes of published work. Given Names, her new and selected poetry 1972-1985, edited by Frank Davey, sold 1500 copies. The two biographies she wrote offer a sense of the wide range of her interests: one on Sarah McLachlan and Lilith Fair, the other on Marshall McLuhan.

LYN HEJINIAN (1941-2024) Poet, essayist, translator, and publisher Lyn Hejinian was the founding figure of the Language poetry movement of the 1970s and an influential force in the world of experimental and avant-garde poetics. Her poetry is characterized by an unusual lyricism and descriptive engagement with the everyday. She was the author of many poetry collections, including My Life and My Life in the Nineties (Wesleyan University Press, 2013), The Book of a Thousand Eyes (Omnidawn, 2012), The Fatalist (Omnidawn, 2003), and her landmark work My Life (Burning Deck, 1980). A native Californian, she taught in the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Readers:

Lydia Kwa: Lydia Kwa has published two books of poetry (The Colours of Heroines, 1992; sinuous, 2013) and five novels (This Place Called Absence, 2000; The Walking Boy, 2005 and 2019; Pulse, 2010 and 2014; Oracle Bone, 2017; A Dream Wants Waking, 2023). A third book of poetry from time to new will be published by Gordon Hill Press in Fall 2024.

Jessica Lee McMillan: Jessica Lee McMillan (she/her) is a poet and teacher with an English MA and creative writing certificate from SFU’s The Writer’s Studio. Her work has appeared in Crab Creek ReviewThe Humber Literary Review, Funicular, Pinhole Poetry, Rose Garden Press and QWERTY (forthcoming), among others. Jessica was a finalist for The Fiddlehead’s 2023 Ralph Gustafson Poetry Contest. She won the 2022 Royal City Literary Arts Society Write On! Contest for Poetry and has received poetry nominations for the Pushcart and Best of the Net. She lives on the land of the Halkomelem-speaking Peoples (New Westminster, BC) with her little family and large dog.

Daphne Marlatt: Daphne Marlatt is an award-winning Vancouver poet and novelist, Daphne Marlatt, dwells gratefully between the Fraser River and Burrard Inlet on traditional Musqueam territory in an eastside Vancouver neighbourhood. In 2017 Talonbooks published 40 years of her collected earlier poetry, Intertidal, edited by Susan Holbrook. Her prose and poetry memoir Then Now (2021, Talonbooks) was followed by a libretto set in Oppenheimer Park, Shadow Catch (Talonbooks, 2023).

Winston Lê: Winston Lê is a Vietnamese-Chinese poet and interdisciplinary artist who resides in Langley, BC. His writing has been featured in Composed: anthology of poetry 2024, periodicities, Sparkling Tongue Press, Ekphrasis Magazine, pagefiftyone, and filling Station. His debut chapbook, translanguaging was shortlisted for the 2018 Broken Pencil Zine Awards. translanguaging is now curated as part of the special collections at Colby College Libraries and Michigan State University Libraries, respectively. In March 2024, he spent a two-week tenure as the poet-in-residence at Studio Faire, an artist residency in Nèrac, France.

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