Poetry, the Canadian way

26 May 2002
ACCLAIMED Canadian poets and theorists, Karen MacCormack and Steve McCaffery, took students on a literary drive through the avenues of alternative poetry when the two visited the Department of English Language and Literature for a week or so.

Both have distinguished themselves not only for their writing, but also for their theoretical work in the discipline, noted Professor John Higgins, who met them at a conference some years ago and more recently convinced them to visit Cape Town. The visiting duo has been hosted by universities across the world, where they have shared their ideas on poetry.

MacCormack, Writer-in-Residence at the University of Western Ontario, has focused much of her scholarly work on linguistically innovative ways of writing. In turn, McCaffery is known for his leading work in Language Poetry and Poetics, and has teamed up with some of the most celebrated names in the field of sound poetry and multi-media performance.

While at UCT, the visitors did some readings and performances, and hosted a writing workshop for students. Together with Higgins and theorist Associate Professor Kelwyn Sole, the visitors also took part in a colloquium on Postmodernism in Practice.

At the workshop, the visitors gave some UCT students a brief introduction to their alternative approach to writing. "We wanted to introduce them to some fresh new ways of writing poetry, something many of them have not seen or heard of before," said McCaffery.

"It was good to have poets who also like theory," noted Higgins.

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