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Queen's Page Lectures welcomes author Elizabeth Hay

A burgeoning lecture series presented by the Queen’s Department of English welcomes author Elizabeth Hay to campus next week to discuss “the page” – the act of writing, the writing life and community, or any aspect of putting words to paper the lecturer wants to explore.

“Queen’s English is very pleased to welcome award-winning author Elizabeth Hay to the university,” says Shelley King, Head of the department. “This series of lectures on ‘the page’ represents an exceptional opportunity for our students and the wider community to hear Canadian writers at the peak of their craft speak about their literary experiences. The concept is clever and catchy, and the first three speakers – Phil Hall, Erín Moure, Stan Dragland – have demonstrated convincingly the value of this series.”

The Page Lectures launched in 2012, when then-writer-in-residence Phil Hall proposed the event as a way to “invigorate and challenge the university and Kingston artistic communities.” At the same time, with a play on words, it was an opportunity to honour Joanne Page, a local poet and artist. Ms. Page passed away in early 2015 of cancer. The series invites men and women writers alternately each year.

Elizabeth Hay visits campus Oct. 27 to present the fourth-annual Page Lectures. Photo: Thies Bogner

“This is the first year of the lectures without Joanne. She represented the spirit of place for Kingston’s writing community,” says Mr. Hall, Director of the Page Lectures. “It will be a very special event this year, announcing and celebrating all of the support that has come forward for our series in the past year. Liz Hay is the perfect writer to have at this time. We are all looking forward to her talk.”

After Ms. Page’s death, the Department of English pledged $25,000 from its Alumni Fund to act as seed-money for a new fund that would endow “The Page Lectures” in perpetuity. The fund recognizes both Joanne’s contribution to Canadian writing and the importance of the newly inaugurated lecture series to creative writing within the department and the wider community. Dr. Steven Page, Joanne’s husband, matched this gift, and with further support from other family members and friends, the Joanne Page Lecture Fund was established in September 2015.

Ms. Page was a cherished member of the Kingston and Canadian literary scenes, with three books of poetry: The River and The Lake (1993), Persuasion for a Mathematician (2003), and Watermarks (2008), nominated for the Trillium Prize. She was also a talented painter and for many years, she wrote a column for the Whig-Standard called In Other Words, which focused on feminist issues and wisdom.

In years past, the Page Lectures welcomed writer Stan Dragland, who spoke about the life and work of Ms. Page; and poet Erín Moure, who wrote about experiments to expand the concept of what a page can mean for experimental and digital writing. In the inaugural year, Mr. Hall’s lecture, Notes From Gethsemani, spoke of monk’s libraries, the history of pages, vellum, and manuscripts.

Both Phil Hall’s lecture and Stan Dragland’s lecture have since been published in small book form.

Elizabeth Hay — this fall also promoting her new novel, His Whole Life — will present her public lecture Tuesday Oct. 27 at 2:30 pm in Watson Hall, Room 517. All welcome. More information is available on Facebook.