Summer Literary Seminars at Concordia: Collective creativity

Collective creativity

American writer Chuck Klosterman talks shop and rock at the SLS

Summer Literary Seminars bring writers from Montreal and around the world together in their art

In this month of festivals and celebrations of the arts in Montreal, a new contender has quietly slipped into the mix. The Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) bring some of North America’s brightest literary lights to the city for two weeks of workshops, readings and panels.

The literary conference and creative writing program, with a number of events open to the public, features a diverse faculty of 40 writers, including rock journalist Chuck Klosterman, Latino poet Martin Espada and Montreal-based poet Sina Queyras. Guest lecturers and panelists include New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman, Erin Mouré and Craig Silverman.

While the program does highlight Montreal’s literary scene, its emphasis is on mixing locals with talent from other places. "I’m excited to see all the writers mixed together," says SLS programs co-ordinator and Concordia alumnus Mike Spry. "For the public readings, we purposely paired up Montreal writers such as Jon Paul Fiorentino with people like Chuck Klosterman. This is also a chance to show off our community and give some exposure to emerging Montreal writers."

The SLS was founded in 1998 by Concordia creative writing professor Mikhail Iossel with the intention of "creating a small multiplicity of discrete writing places across the globe." Iossel, who hails from Leningrad, held the first conference in St-Petersburg, Russia, and in the subsequent 12 years, has added Kenya and Lithuania to the roster. Yet even with the strong Montreal connection, this is the first seminar in Montreal – and North America, for that matter.

"The SLS are always about going somewhere else," says Spry. "They’re held in strangely chaotic places with literary histories. But many people don’t know about Montreal’s own literary history – it’s not getting the national and international attention that it could."

An expected 70 people are registered for the event, with access to writing workshops during the day. Evening panels and readings with Montreal writers and visitors such as Klosterman, Robert Coover, Padgett Powell, Sam Lipsyte, Jeff Parker, Deborah Treisman and many more are open to the public.

Summer Literary Seminars
At Concordia University, June 13-27
www.sumlitsem.org/montreal

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