Gail Scott Marathon Reading of My Paris

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.

Billy-Ray Belcourt & Lindsay Nixon

In collaboration with the CEP, Writers Read is pleased to present attendees of our events with an original broadside designed to honour our guests and celebrate the occasion of their visit. You’ll have to come to get one with a new poem by Billy-Ray Belcourt. They’re quite something, and I thank Jessica Bebenek for design and printing of the series.

The first 25 people in the building in March will also get a broadside from CA Conrad’s event in November 2018. #concordia #writersread #curatingthefuture

Damian Rogers reads Suzanne Buffam


Here she’s talking about the Irrationalist. Read the entire piece over on LemonHound.

The wonderful is on full display throughout The Irrationalist. The language is fresh, precise, and natural; the form and structure, both micro and macro, support the voice without overshadowing it. Throughout the book, Buffam references some of the best minds of the Western tradition: Paul Eluard, Nicolaus Copernicus, William James, Henry Beecher, Luis Bunel, Galileo, Ad Reinhardt, Robert Rauschenberg, Wallace Stevens, Leonardo Da Vinci, Flaubert, Schopenhauer, Jean Cocteau (plus a passing invocation of Tom Cruise). This may sound like namedropping, but Buffam introduces their ideas only to expand on them from a particular point of view. Again and again this underlines the fact that though each of us lives in an echo chamber, one can only connect to the precepts of others through the framework of her own perspective.

And though these poems find their beauty and strength in their alignment with the irrational, Buffam resists the temptation to simply disappear into a house of mirrors. “Don’t tell me there’s another, / Better place. Don’t tell me // There’s a sea / Above our dreaming sea,” she writes in the poem “Ruined Interior.” These are poems that keep reaching for new imaginative possibilities and yet they are equally concerned with constant reorientation, with a determination to avoid the dangerous cul-de-sac of self-delusion.

In “The New Experience,” she wryly states that “Experience taught me / That nothing worth doing is worth doing / For the sake of the experience alone.” To that I would add that the poem worth reading is not worth reading only for the message it might carry in its lines. After thousands of years of intellectual inquiry, the basic questions remain unanswered. Buffam reveals by example that to look outward — to the philosophers, scientists, and artists that have come before — will always lead you back to yourself.

Which leads me back to the way these poems make me feel as if my awareness of my own surroundings — including my own mind — is enlarged when I read them. I like what Buffam says in these poems, but more than that, I get off on how they operate on my consciousness. All over the world, chemists strive to perfect pharmaceutical formulas so that they can pack into a pill the kind of clear, elevated sensation that Buffam produces with words on paper.

Join Suzanne Buffam, Damian Rogers and Sarah Burgoyne
Thursday, November 3, at 7:30 PM
Grey Nuns Building M100, 1175 Rue St Mathieu

Off the Page Fall 2016: Festival Schedule


Off The Page November 3rd – 5th, 2016

Following its stellar spring series in March 2016, Off The Page is back this fall with a fresh lineup of panels and readings. The festival, presented by Writers Read & Concordia University, boasts a busy three-day schedule from November 3 – 5 and will feature Concordia Alumni Suzanne Buffam and Trish Salah as well as Evie Shockley, Damian Rogers, and many more. We are also organizing several panels and we need participants. Listed below are the readings, panels, and confirmed guests as well as the time and venue for each event. For updates go to, or follow @offthepagefest @CUWritersRead on Twitter, and Writers Read Concordia on Facebook. Continue reading “Off the Page Fall 2016: Festival Schedule”

Jeramy Dodds


The tubas are full of fog and fallen thoroughbreds.
There are no dogs near the dentist’s office
due to the pitch of the drills. A poem
is meant to replace what the olfactory erased.
But it always comes out like a Gilbert-without-
Sullivan song.

In the birdbath my reflection sprains
with each plop of rain. We don’t find it odd
that mule saddles are made from cows?
But the moorhen is two birds killed
with one act of kindness.

Above all, the clouds are like tennis skirts,
fenceposts dark where dogs piss their names.
Her mouth a doily-gagged coal hole. No squawk
as my palm kowtows her gullet to the block,
her hind high for our singsong.

Now, if I tap-test the mic, and tell you all,
I’ll know the cassettes of our joy are socked away
in the secret drawers of my boudoir. O you
can’t tell someone just how lonely he is,
but a moorhen sure can.

Here’s Chris Hutchinson on Dodds’ poem: 

I love how this poem goofs with our expectations. “The tubas are full of fog” is not atypical as far as poetic images go, and I can easily imagine these tubas in terms of foghorns or breath on a cold day. But then, after smoothly crossing the alliterative passage “full of fog and fallen,” we arrive at “thoroughbreds,” the opening line’s terminus. In an instant the image has slipped from the comfortably figurative into the surreally far-out.

Read the entire How Poems Work over at Lemon Hound. And save the date for Jeramy Dodds who reads with Don McKay on October 7, 2pm MB 2.130, 1440 rue Guy.