This event took place over a six hour period on October 16th, 2014 in the Hall Building and featured approximately 70 readers in French and English, curated by Sina Queyras, Genevieve Robichaud and Jesse McEachern. This is the final section and by now, all of the readers are reading at once. Here you can see Candace Maddy, Jacob Wren and Corinna Copp and hear the chorus.

Here’s an excerpt of Scott reading in the evening event. See below for more of the event and check back for more footage.

Like Pop Rocks on the tongue’ — readings from My Paris, and more

Writers Read event celebrates experimental women scribes and poets from Quebec who collaborated on the iconic text Theory, A Sunday
October 8, 2014
By Tom Peacock

From left to right: Nicole Brossard, Gail Scott, Rachel Levitsky and Lisa Robertson.

From left to right: Nicole Brossard, Gail Scott, Rachel Levitsky and Lisa Robertson. | Image courtesy of Writ

Concordia’s Writers Read, in collaboration with the Université de Montréal’s Département d’études anglaises and the Concordia University Research Chair in Media and Contemporary Literature, is hosting a daylong celebration of Quebec women’s writing on October 16. The event will kick off with a marathon reading of Gail Scott’s experimental novel My Paris (Mercury Press, 1999), beginning at 11 a.m. in Room 767 of the Henry F. Hall Building (H).

“Somebody once told me that the best way to read My Paris was to get on a subway somewhere in, say, Brooklyn, and sit reading till the utmost stop on the uptown line,” said Scott during a 2010 conversation with novelist Sina Queyras, assistant professor in Concordia’s Department of English. The chat is published on Queyras’ literary website, Lemon Hound.

At the Writers Read event, students, authors and professors will attempt to recreate the subway experience — albeit, in the Henry F. Hall Building — as they read back-to-back excerpts from the book, which Quill and Quire reviewer Mary Soderstrom called “a pleasure for those who enjoy playing with language.”

Queyras, who organized the Writer’s Read event, says My Paris is fun to read aloud because of its inventive sentence constructions. “It’s like Pop Rocks on the tongue to read; full of sparkly, linguistic treats.”

The marathon event will be followed by another reading of excerpts from La Théorie, un dimanche (les editions du remue-ménage, 1988) featuring Gail Scott and Nicole Brossard, two writers who contributed to the collaborative feminist text. Queyras says the book was of vital importance for many experimental writers in North America.

“The text came out of a salon that Nicole Brossard started. She, along with Louky Bersianik, France Théoret, Louise Cotnoir, and Louise Dupré, met every Sunday in the 1980s and discussed theory and its implications for women’s rights. These essays evolved out of that.”

Last year, 25 years after the book was first published in French, Belladonna*, a New York-based avant-garde publishing house, released an English version, Theory, A Sunday.

In anticipation of the October 16 Writers Read event at Concordia, Queyras has been posting excerpts from the book on Lemon Hound, including a newly added introduction by internationally recognized Canadian poet Lisa Robertson. She has also invited writers to send in their thoughts inspired by the text.

The responses pay testimony to the book’s continued relevance.

“In the 12 years since I first encountered La Théorie, un dimanche, I have developed or been welcomed into feminist networks of mentorship that span time zones, generations and the bounds of genre,” writes Erin Wunker, an English professor at Mount Allison University. “Because of a book, because on Sundays in Montréal in the 1980s, six women gathered together to talk, to theorize, to think, and to listen.”

Following the reading, Scott and Brossard will take questions from the audience. They’ll be joined by Robertson and Rachel Levitsky, poet and founder of Belladonna*.

Queyras says she hopes the event will raise awareness among young readers of the impact Theory, A Sunday had when it was first published in French.

“It’s a seminal book for a lot of writers across North America, not just women, but a lot of experimental, innovative writers were profoundly influenced by the work of these women,” she says. “They were enacting a kind of feminist, utopian world.”

For more information about Writers Read and other readings series happening at Concordia, visit the Writers Read website.