Rebellious Murmurs and Prairie Whispers

In Aritha van Herk’s keynote address to last year’s Symposium on Manitoba Writing, she described the province as a middle-aged woman, “top heavy but pleasingly chesty.”

“She wears, deliberately, as a disguise, a placid countenance, that old lake of the prairies inheritance, resting on the mysterious prehistoric bed of Glacial Lake Agassiz. But she is roiling with rebellious murmurs beneath that outward visage,” she said.

Herk said Manitoba writing has helped shaped the voice of all of Canada.

So what comes next for writing in this Prairie province? Three contributors to the scene, Sally Ito, Esmé Claire Keith and Keith Cadieux, will meet at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on April 28, 2PM as part of Spur festival to share their insights about how Manitoba literature has taken its distinctive shape and how the future could bring change to the literary landscape.

Before the event, you can acquaint yourselves with these writers through reviews of their work.

The National Post on Not Being On A Boat, by Esmé Claire Keith:

The voyage begins well enough, with an alcohol-fuelled tour of tropical islands, but things get out of hand after some passengers are left behind when a riot breaks out during a trip to shore, and the Mariola is cut off from the world. Narrated by a middle-aged divorcé named Rutledge, Not Being On A Boat slowly morphs into a disturbing look at the limits of privilege in the face of disaster.

The Winnipeg Review on Gaze by Keith Cadieux:

Cadieux shows issues of vanity and the frailty of self-esteem.  . . . Death is predetermined, and its instrument is the very cause of the narrator’s gradual decline: the glass of a mirror.

Or watch Sally Ito read the title poem from Alert to Glory, in the video below.


Spur is a national festival of politics, art and ideas and is a catalyst for change in Canada.

Through nationally relevant and locally nuanced discussions, presentations and performances, the festival seeks to spur its participants to action on issues affecting Canadians. Feisty, multi-partisan, forward-looking, and solution-driven, this national railway of ideas will provide Canada with vital new cultural infrastructure for the 21st century.

Founded in 2013, the festival has already grown from three to five Canadian cities, with plans for further expansion across the country. Produced by the Literary Review of Canada in partnership with Diaspora Dialogues, Spur prides itself on its community partnerships, cultural connections and a focus on accessibility and diversity.

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