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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

beginning the Resurrection of Milton Acorn ... PurdyFest #6=AcornFest

Our 6th annual Purdy Country Literary Festival (PurdyFest) will honour the life and legacy of Canada's People's Poet, Milton Acorn. Following is my review of Terry Barker's 2006 book to give readers an idea of the importance of Milton Acorn to Canadian poetry.

Mosaic Press will be releasing a new selected of Milt's work, In a Springtime Instant, in 2012. The 250 page collection will be introduced with forwards and introductions by James Deahl and Terry Barker. 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Milt's organizing the Free Speech Movement in Toronto, along with fellow poet Joe Rosenblatt and many others.

This summer's Symposium will feature the life and work of Milton Acorn, and we are hoping Milt's sisters, Mary and Kay, and his brother, Robert, will be in attendance and presenting at "AcornFest"!

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The Unacknowledged Acorn

"Beyond Bethune:
People's Poetry and Milton Acorn's Metaphor for the Canadian Fate"
by Terry Barker

review by Chris Faiers

Milton Acorn received Canada's highest literary honour, the Governor General's Award for Poetry, in 1975. A few years earlier a motley congregation of fellow writers, including Margaret Atwood and Al Purdy, had laid the foundation for Acorn's overdue recognition by presenting him with the unique "People's Poet Award" at a disreputable bar on Spadina Avenue.

Terry Barker is an academic who was a longtime friend of Acorn and other practitioners of "people's poetry". Barker, too, is deserving of special recognition for his ongoing contributions to analyzing Canadian poetics - in a time when poets and their art are completely marginalized and ignored.

The essays in Barker's book add up to a full-bodied historical forum on the philosophy, poetics and practice of people's poetry in Canada. Unfortunately, his book is likely too academic, too unhip and obscure to register on more than the most sensitive of antennae.

But the messages Acorn thundered from the ether of the northern lights, the power of the spirit of the true north, strong and free, will be read and intuitively understood by those crucial few vibrating antennae. Barker knows poets are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, the unacknowledged legislators of our age. Terry Barker takes poets and their messages very seriously. In these final years of the American empire, the necessity of an awakened Canadian spirit with a backbone as strong as the Shield are a requirement for our northern survival. Acorn preached this, and every Canadian worth their salt should learn more about Milton Acorn, Canada's People's Poet.

Barker's book will stretch you philosophically, socially, politically, poetically and spiritually. Terry, Uncle Milty the raven shaman, is cawing his thanks!

Beyond Bethune is published by Synaxis Press
37323 Hawkins-Pickle Road
Dewdney, BC
Canada V0M 1H0
174 pages; paperback. $30

Review "The Unacknowledged Acorn" is copyright by Chris Faiers.

Reviewer Chris Faiers received the inaugural  "Milton Acorn People's Poet Medal" in 1987. His poetry has been widely published, anthologized and broadcast. Faiers spent a decade as the head librarian in the village of Stirling, Ont.

Pearl Pirie asked if the above should be submitted here?:
(I said sure!)

Call For Papers

Mount Allison University, Sackville NB, 20–23 September 2012
***UPDATE: Sina Queyras to give Keynote*** [more info]
***UPDATE: Diana Brydon to give Keynote*** [more info]
Poetic discourse in Canada has always been changing to assert poetry’s relevance to the public sphere. While some poets and critics have sought to shift poetic subjects in Canada to make political incursions into public discourses, others have sought changes in poetic form as a means to encourage wider public engagement. If earlier conversations about poetics in Canadian letters, such as those in the well-known Toronto Globe column “At the Mermaid Inn” (1892-93), sought to identify an emerging cultural nationalism in their references to Canadian writing, in the twentieth century poetics became increasingly focused on a wider public, with little magazines, radio, and television offering new spaces in which to consider Canadian cultural production. In more recent decades, many diverse conversations about poetics in Canada have begun to emanate from hyperspace, where reviews, interviews, Youtube/Vimeo clips, publisher/author websites, and blogs have increased the “visibility” of poetry and poetics.
Acknowledging the work that emerged from the 2005 “Poetics & Public Culture in Canada Conference,” as well as recent publications considering publics in the Canadian context, we are interested in examining a growing set of questions surrounding these and other discursive shifts connected with Canadian poetry and poetics. How have technological innovations such as radio, television, and the Internet, for example, made poetry and poetics more accessible or democratic? How does poetry inhabit other genres and media in order to gesture toward conversations relevant to political, cultural, and historical moments? What contemporary concerns energize those studying historical poetries and poetics? How do commentators in public and academic circles construct a space for poetry to inhabit?
The conference sets out to explore the changing shapes of and responses to poetic genres, aesthetic theories, and political visions from a diverse range of cultural and historical contexts. In the interest of reinvigorating conversations about the multiple configurations of poetics, poetry, and the public in Canada, we invite proposals for papers (15–20 minutes) on subjects including, but not limited to:
–Public statements/declarations of poetics
–Publics and counterpublics in Canadian poetry
–The politics of public poetics
–Tensions between avant- and rear-garde poetics in Canada
–Shifting technological modes of poetic and critical production (print/sound/video/born-digital)
–Poetics of/as Activism
–Public Intellectualism and Poetics
–Recovery and remediation of Canadian poetry and poetics
–Poetics and collaboration in Canada
–People’s poetry and/or the People’s Poetry Awards
–Poetry and environmental publics in Canada
Proposals should be no more than 250 words and should be accompanied by a 100-word abstract and a 50-word biographical note. Please send proposals to by 29 February 2012.
PDF version of Call for Papers
Word version of Call for Papers


Hi Gail,
Thanks for our quick response :  ) To help Milt's legacy & Canadian People's Poetry, we need to spread the word of the new 'selected' of Milt's poetry far & wide - oh, & buy a copy at "AcornFest" or from your friendly neighbourhood bookseller.

Also please read up further on Milt (& his best bud, Big Al Purdy ... and his wife, Gwendolyn MacEwen etc.). Show up at "AcornFest (PurdyFest #6) and read your favourite Acorn poems at the Symposium and at the ANOTHER DAM POETRY READING  in Marmora on the islet in the dam on the Crowe River.

nice to hear from you ... see you this summer in Marmora and Malone (ZenRiver Gardens) for "AcornFest".
peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase ... wrffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff! (thanks for volunteering!)

On 2012-02-22, at 6:28 PM, HearOurWords wrote:

HearOurWords has left a new comment on your post "beginning the Resurrection of Milton Acorn ... Pur...":

Honouring Milton Acorn sounds like a great idea. What can I do to help?

Posted by HearOurWords to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 22 February 2012 15:28

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1 comment:

HearOurWords said...

Honouring Milton Acorn sounds like a great idea. What can I do to help?