First A & H Colloquium of 2018!

January 15, 2018

Friday, January 26, 2018 

10am - 11:30am

The Malaspina Theatre (VIU - bldg 310)

Encouraged to come early for coffee, juice, cookies and conversation in the theatre foyer

Parking: Some courtesy parking for this presentation will be available. Enter through Gate 5D (access from Fifth Street) and park in the lot to the right. From 9:00 to 10:00 am, a student in a safety vest will be near the entrance to guide you and provide you with a pass for your dashboard. The pass will be good until 1:00 pm. Please click on this link for a view of the campus map to see the locations of the parking lots.



Dr.Sonnet L’ Abbé, from the Creative Writing Department, will give a presentation entitled, Writing Sonnet’s Shakespeare: A Poet Overwrites the Bard. In this talk,

L’ Abbé will discuss her new set of poems that consider her Black identity and settler privilege in an engagement with the sonnets of William Shakespeare. In each of the 154 dense new poems of Sonnet’s Shakespeare sits one Shakespearean sonnet--displaced, spoken over, but never entirely silenced.


Her process in writing the poems in Sonnet’s Shakespeare is intriguing. In what she calls “an act of benign literary patricide and a feat of painstaking poetic labour,” L’Abbé works with the pages of Shakespeare’s sonnets as cultural territory she will inhabit. Letter by letter, she settles her own language into the white spaces of Shakespeare’s poems, until she overwhelms the original text and effectively erases Shakespeare’s voice by assimilating his words into hers. L’Abbé invented the process to find a way to sing from a body that knows both oppression and privilege.


L'Abbé's poetic themes display the influence of her father, a Franco-Ontarian potter, and mother, an artist of Guyanese South Asian and African mixed descent. “This collection of poems,” says L’Abbé, “is a writer’s attempt at both a magnum opus and a mixed-race girl’s mixed-up diary; the voice of a settler on Indigenous people’s territories and of a survivor of racialized sexual assault.” She uses the mash-up stylings of a Lorine-Niedecker-and-Public-Enemy fan, and “the work touches on such themes as gender trouble, video games, allyship, the role of poetry, and the search for interracial love.” She will read from her work and discuss the personal and intergenerational experiences, as well as the literary influences, that led her to approach language the way she has and to attempt to write a book that “Shakespeare will forever sub-utter.”


L’Abbé is a poet, literary critic, and teacher. She earned an MA from the University of Guelph and a PhD from the University of British Columbia. She is the author of A Strange Relief and Killarnoe, and was the 2014 guest editor of Best Canadian Poetry. Her chapbook, Anima Canadensis, was published by Junction Books in 2016, and won the 2017 bpNichol Chapbook Award. 


Be sure to mark your calendars for our other upcoming 2018 presentations:

February 16 

Timothy Brownlow, English Department, The Importance of Being Seamus: Heaney as Local and Global Poet


March 23     

Nelson Gray, English Department, A Tale of Two Playwrights: Writing Across Culture and Gender

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