A discussion with the Giller Prize winner

The Queen’s University Writer in Residence Kaie Kellough, the Department of English, and the Faculty of Arts and Science are joining forces to present three unique events including a conversation with the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Souvankham Thammavongsa, author of How to Pronounce Knife.

The Writer in Residence program's purpose is to provide a campus-wide (and Kingston community) resource for writers (staff and students) to discuss their works in progress or any questions related to writing, performing and publishing, with a professional writer beyond the classroom.

The program was initially funded by the Canada Council for the Arts but in recent years the writers have been funded through the Queen’s University Arts Fund, the Department of English, and the Faculty of Arts and Science Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization Fund. The program was initiated and is administered by the award-winning poet Professor Carolyn Smart.

“The Writer in Residence role is, to me, about being available to engage with students and members of the university writing community,” says Kellough, a novelist, poet and sound performer. “If they have questions, or manuscripts, or even shorter works in progress and would like to have an outside eye, some fresh thought applied to the work, they can reach out to me. I'm more than happy to read work and schedule time to chat with writers about their ideas, but also about the world of publishing and the process of bringing work into the world.”

From western Canada, he lives in Montréal and has roots in Guyana, South America. His books include Dominoes at the Crossroads (short fiction), Magnetic Equator (poetry), and Accordéon (novel).

The highlight event for this year is set for Friday March 5 at 2:30 pm when Kellough hosts the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize event, a conversation with Thammavongsa.

“Like Souvankham I am also a poet and fiction writer, and we have published books at the same time and with the same publisher, notably collections of poetry in 2019,” says Kellough. “Souvankham writes a kind of fiction that I wish I could emulate. Her language has a precision and limpidity that allow for a very intimate reading experience. I am going to be speaking to Souvankham about the sense of social engagement in her work, but also about how that engagement shapes, and is filtered by her artistry. We will certainly discuss the journey her book has taken from conception all the way to winning the Giller prize in 2020, a remarkable feat, and how rare it is for a collection of short stories to win that prestigious prize.”

The public is welcome to register for the Zoom event.

The first event in the three-event series is set for Friday, February 26 at 2:30 pm when Kellough will host a discussion with poets and novelists Tawhida Tanya Evanson, Gary Barwin, and Kama La Mackerel who also work in sound, theater, performance, and the visual arts.

“The discussion will revolve around necessity, and how the social, political, and artistic realities have driven them toward a multi-disciplinary practice,” says Kellough.

The third event in the series, following the Giller Prize event, is set for Tuesday, March 16 starting at 2:30 pm. It features a discussion with Kevin Yuen Kit Lo and Dani Spinosa about the intersections of visual poetry and graphic design, and how these practices can challenge form and liberate meaning.

For information and registration details, visit the English department website. To contact Kellough email him at kaie.kellough@queensu.ca.