EMWF Panel: Memoirs and Meditations 

Thursday August 20, 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. EST (online)

Presenters: Madhur Anand, This Red Line Goes Straight to your Heart, Billy-Ray Belcourt, A History of My Brief Body, and Bahar Orang, Where Things Touch: A Meditation on Beauty

Host: Laurie D. Graham, Brick Magazine

Truth. Intimacy. Beauty. Queerness. Memory. Trauma. Body. Science. Poetry.

Join Madhur Anand, Billy-Ray Belcourt, and Bahar Orang as they introduce their startling new books – memoirs and meditations which explore self, meaning, personal history, and experience. Written in poetic, experimental form, these works defy convention to get to the heart of the stories within.

This event includes closed captioning.


This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart
By Madhur Anand
Published by Strange Light (Penguin Random House)

An experimental memoir about Partition, immigration, and generational storytelling, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart weaves together the poetry of memory with the science of embodied trauma, using the imagined voices of the past and the vital authority of the present.

We begin with a man off balance: one in one thousand, the only child in town whose polio leads to partial paralysis. We meet his future wife, chanting Hai Rams for Gandhiji and choosing education over marriage. On one side of the line that divides this book, we follow them as their homeland splits in two and they are drawn together, moving to Canada and raising their children in mining towns and in crowded city apartments. And when we turn the book over, we find the daughter's tale—we see how the rupture of Partition, the asymmetry of a father's leg, the virus of a mother's rage, makes its way to the next generation.

Told through the lenses of biology, physics, history and poetry, this is a memoir that defies form and convention to immerse the reader in the feeling of what remains when we've heard as much of the truth as our families will allow, and we're left to search for ourselves among the pieces they've carried with them.

Madhur Anand is the author of A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes, and several other literary works published in national and international literary magazines. She is a full professor of ecology and sustainability at The University of Guelph, where she was appointed the inaugural director of the Guelph Institute for Environmental Research.

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A History of My Brief Body
By Billy-Ray Belcourt
Published by Hamish Hamilton (Penguin Random House)

The youngest ever winner of the Griffin Prize mines his own personal history to reconcile the world he was born into with the world that could be.

Billy-Ray Belcourt's debut memoir opens with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life in the hamlet of Joussard, Alberta, and on the Driftpile First Nation. From there, it expands to encompass the big and broken world around him, in all its complexity and contradictions: a legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it, first loves and first loves lost, sexual exploration and intimacy, and the act of writing as a survival instinct and a way to grieve. What emerges is not only a profound meditation on memory, gender, anger, shame, and ecstasy, but also the outline of a way forward. With startling honesty, and in a voice distinctly and assuredly his own, Belcourt situates his life experiences within a constellation of seminal queer texts, among which this book is sure to earn its place. Eye-opening, intensely emotional, and excessively quotable, A History of My Brief Body demonstrates over and over again the power of words to both devastate and console us.

Billy-Ray Belcourt (he/him) is a poet, author, and scholar from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize for his debut collection, This Wound Is a World, which was also a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. Belcourt is a recipient of the prestigious Rhodes scholarship and an Indspire Award, the highest honour the Indigenous community bestows on its leaders. He is currently working on his PhD at the University of Alberta and will join UBC's Creative Writing Program as an Assistant Professor in Indigenous Creative Writing in January 2020.

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Where Things Touch: A Meditation on Beauty
By Bahar Orang
Published by Book*Hug Press

Part lyric essay, part prose poetry, Where Things Touch: A Meditation on Beauty grapples with the manifold meanings and possibilities of beauty.

Drawing on her experiences as a physician-in-training, Orang considers clinical encounters and how they relate to the concept and very idea of beauty. Such considerations lead her to questions about intimacy, queerness, home, memory, love, and other aspects of human experience. Throughout, beauty is ultimately imagined as something inextricably tied to care: the care of lovers, of patients, of art and literature, and the various non-human worlds that surround us.

Eloquent and meditative in its approach, beauty, here, beyond base expectations of frivolity and superficiality, is conceived of as a thing to recover. Where Things Touch is an exploration of an essential human pleasure, a necessary freedom by which to challenge what we know of ourselves and the world we inhabit.

Bahar Orang is a writer and physician-in-training living in Toronto. She has a BASc from McMaster University and an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto. She completed her MD at McMaster University, and is now completing specialty training in psychiatry in Toronto. Her poetry and essays have been published in such places as GUTS, Hamilton Arts & Letters, CMAJ, and Ars Medica. Where Things Touch: A Meditation on Beauty is her first book.

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Laurie D. Graham grew up in Treaty 6 territory (Sherwood Park, Alberta), and she currently lives in Nogojiwanong, in the treaty and traditional territory of the Mississauga Anishinaabeg (Peterborough, Ontario), where she is a writer, an editor, and the publisher of Brick magazine. Her books are RoveSettler Education, and The Larger Forgetting, a collaborative chapbook with painter Amanda Rhodenizer.

 

Want a copy of the books featured on this panel?
The Bookshelf (Guelph) is our bookselling partner for this event. If you would like to purchase a copy of one of the books from this event, you can order online at bookshelf.ca or phone 519-821-3311 x1. Free shipping or curbside delivery in Guelph. $10.00 shipping cost outside of Guelph.

Thank you to our supporters:
The Angel Gabriel Foundation, The Canada Council for the Arts, The Department of Canadian Heritage, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, League of Canadian Poets, Open Book, The Ontario Arts Council, The Pollock Family Fund and Wellington County.