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It's winter solstice week: wind-down time. Some primitive part of your brain wonders why you're not huddled around a fire conserving energy and waiting for spring, instead of staggering across the asphalt prairie in the Chinook gusts trying to find the car so you can load it up with shopping and go back for more. Why not give in and huddle over one of those autographed books you bought with such high expectations at any of the dozens of readings and book launches that have filled the months since summer solstice? They've piled up on your shelf - a bumper crop. Now take some time to read them. Meanwhile you can have faith that amid the winter stillness (you know, the grass fires, the gale winds, the avalanches - this peaceful time we call winter in Alberta) new writing is taking form every day in preparation for 1998.
Already one of next autumn's major events is being planned. Two distinguished women, both respected and strongly political poets, will visit Calgary for five days next October as part of the university's Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writers Program. American poet Adrienne Rich, and Dionne Brand (of metropolitan Burnt River, Ontario), make a powerful and apt cross-border combination. Rich has published over 18 books of poetry and essays since A Change of World appeared in 1951. (She's received, and in some cases refused, more literary honors than I've had overdue library books.) Dionne Brand was two years old in Trinidad when Rich began publishing. In Canada since 1970, Brand was very recently consecrated with the Governor General award for her book Land to Light On. But forget the award score-keeping - both women have made their influence felt on the page and in the world. Brand was a hard-working social activist in Toronto and Grenada through the '70 and '80s. (Her new book struggles with the loss of a sustaining politics and maybe even identity.) In 1989, Brand directed the NFB film Listening for Something: Adrienne Rich and Dionne Brand in Conversation. So the two go back at least eight years or so. Both women are sure to have things to say that are worth listening to in 1998.
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