Upcoming Event - Gravity and Grace: Aesthetic Constellations in Contemporary Chinese, Sinophone, and Canadian Poetry

8 September 2023

As Simone Weil once said, all activities of the human spirit “are controlled by the laws analogous to those of physical gravity,” grace being the only exception.

Join over two dozen poets and scholars for three days of conversation about Chinese and Canadian poetry and letters, with a number of readings, a keynote lecture, and several “constellations” of scholars
sharing their interpretation of contemporary poetry.

September 15, 16, and 17

All events are free and open to the public at the Telus Centre (North Campus).

Program Outline


Paul Manfredi Keynote Address Poster

"Intermodal Modernities: On the Intersection of Visual and Verbal Aesthetics in Modern China"
Keynote Address by Paul Manfredi

Friday, September 15, 1:00-3:00 PM
Telus Centre 134, University of Alberta

  • Professor of Chinese at Pacific Rim University
  • Director of the Confucius Institute of the State of Washington
  • Author of Modern Chinese Poetry: A Visual-Verbal Dynamic
Beginning with a few “luminous details” from early in the 20th century, to invoke Ezra Pound, Manfredi argues that a visual turn in poetics has been part of a modernist project for some time. His focus is on the way that contemporary Chinese poets have used the visual as an opportunity to recuperate aspects of the Chinese literati tradition to advance new styles.

Afaa M Weaver Keynote Poetry Reading Poster

"Silk Nerves and Silences" 
Keynote Poetry Reading by Afaa M Weaver

Friday, September 15, 4:30-6:30 PM
Telus Centre 134, University of Alberta

  • Award-winning author of fourteen poetry collections, including THE Government of Nature and City of Eternal Spring
  • Alumnae Endowed Chair Professor Emeritus, Simmons College
  • Tai Chi and Daoism practitioner

A poet, playwright, short fiction writer, journalist, and translator, Weaver reads from his recent and classic verse. The profound diversity of his work makes it hard to encapsulate, but he is known for the eloquence with which he describes the African American experience as well as a constant search for meaning and beauty in the world, informed by a quietist devotion to Eastern thought and poetic practice.


Four Canadian Poets Keynote Readings

Poetic Locality: Voices from Canada
Keynote Readings by Four Canadian Poets

Saturday, September 16, 2:00-4:00 PM
Telus Centre 134, University of Alberta

Tim Bowling
A recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Tim Bowling is one of the most prominent creative writers in Canada today, having authored some twenty two books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Lien Chao
Lien Chao is a Chinese-Canadian author, educator, literary and art critic, and community arts advocate permanently residing in Toronto. Her path-breaking work Beyond Silence: Chinese-Canadian Literature in English (TSAR Publications, 1997) won the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Criticism.

Randy Kohan
Born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan of Russian ancestry, Randy Kohan studied History at the University of Regina and the University of Alberta. He has produced four poetry collections, all with Ekstasis Press, including the 2020 When Conditions Are Right.

Emily Riddle
Emily Riddle is nêhiyaw and a member of the Alexander First Nation in Treaty Six Territory. She is the author of The Big Melt (2023), winner of the Griffin Canadian First Book Award, and her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, and other major media outlets.


Wang Jiaxin Keynote Poetry Reading and Ruminations

"Writing the World of Poetry"
Keynote Poetry Reading and Ruminations by Wang Jiaxin

Sunday, September 17, 1:30-3:30 PM
Telus Centre 134, University of Alberta

  • Professor Emeritus, Renmin University
  • Author of Darkening Mirror: New & Selected Poems

Wang Jiaxin emerged on the literary scene in the late 1970s in China, but perhaps is best known for his work as a member of the “Third Generation” of poets in the 1990s. He has exerted far-reaching influence in China as a poet, a critic, a translator, promoter of world poetry, and as a university professor. Wang’s poetic voice stands out for the gravity, clarity, and resolve with which it explores the individual’s relation to history, destiny, cultural inheritance, and humanity.