New collection of feminist readings launches at Laurier

The celebratory book launch of a new novel – which explores the historical context of feminist literature – took place at Laurier on Thursday in the faculty of arts lounge.

The book, Wider Boundaries of Daring: The Modernist Impulse in Canadian Women’s Poetry, is a demonstration of Canadian literary modernism through a collection of work by feminist writers who were very prominent in the modernist movement.

The editors of the book, Di Brandt and Barbara Godard, collaborated to compile this collection, which was 10 years in the making.

While at the launch, Brandt wanted to tribute the event to her co-editor Goddard, who was unable to attend, stating the book truly was a credit to her.

“She has so much knowledge and knows how to rattle it off,” she said, adding, “Barb has a fierce eye on what’s happening everywhere.”

The book itself puts women back into the genealogy of history during modern times and drastically changes it.

Brandt explained how men were the only ones who had access to the creation of anthologies; therefore, book-length studies in the past have only given brief references to women.

For this reason, Brandt and Goddard began their collaborative project. It contributes to changing the shape and meaning of feminist modernism in the Canadian literary scene.

“It’s a fab read and I think a very important book,” said Brandt.

The book is important in bringing together the works of many female poets, critics and writers into one place, which is exactly what Brandt and Goddard have done.

Listening to Brandt, her passion about the book and of poetry itself was evident.
She read a small excerpt from the afterward that she had written: “There is a mystery from the heart of poetry.”

The book was well received during the launch by both students and professors.

Tanis MacDonald, assistant professor in Laurier’s department of English and film studies stated, “I will probably use it in my graduate course next year.”

But the question remains: why is the book so dear to the heart of the English department?

Paul Tiessen, a professor of English and film studies, was a large influence in the editors’ selection of which writings to include or not within the book.

Tiessen has done a lot of work on modernist writing in Canada and he was part of a very early conference on the work of poet and journalist Dorothy Livesay.

Her literary writings pre-date the male writers, and are therefore included in Wider Boundaries of Daring.

Tiessen was one of the first to acknowledge the profound nature of her work.

While speaking with MacDonald, Livesay explained Tiessen’s strong influence, stating that, “When Brandt and Goddard were putting the collection together, they kept coming back to Paul’s work and saying he was the first one to say this.”

Brandt describes the book as a conventional way of following the footsteps of female modern poets and writers about “being able to rethink the future by having a vision.”

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