“THE DINNER PARTY: INDIGESTION FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT,” IN INSIDE BROADSIDE

In Inside Broadside: A Decade of Feminist Journalism. Ed, Philinda Masters, Second Story Press Oct. 8 2019.

"The point is not to criticize Chicago for her choice of guests; nor for attempting to take in all of western civilization in her sweep of history.... The point is, however, that Chicago's politics are not particularly radical. Her visualization of feminism, rhetoric aside, fits right in with the trendy notions of 'liberated' upper class matrons."

Broadside: A Feminist Review was a groundbreaking Canadian feminist newspaper published between 1979 and 1989. While Broadside paid attention to everything from feminists making art to street activism, it also covered the mainstream, from pop culture to peacemaking. The Broadside team uncovered the work of female artists and developed challenging and risky new ideas, all while participating in the day-to-day organizing of a grassroots movement.

Broadside helped reinvent journalism to make room for a feminist voice. This collection looks at the impact of the newspaper on the lives of women. Through a selection of key articles, the book explores the issues and events, the conflicts and controversies, and the debates and discoveries of feminist theory and activism that formed the context and content of a decade of change.

Buy the book here.

“LE TORONTO IMAGINAIRE” IN TORONTO NO MEAN CITY

In Toronto No Mean City, University of Toronto Press, Jun. 21, 2017

Eric Arthur fell in love with Toronto the first time he saw it. The year was 1923; he was twenty-five years old, newly arrived to teach architecture at the University of Toronto. For the next sixty years he dedicated himself to saving the great buildings of Toronto's past. Toronto, No Mean City sounded a clarion call in his crusade. First published in 1964, it sparked the preservation movement of the 1960s and 1970s and became its bible. This reprint of the third edition, prepared by Stephen Otto, updates Arthur's classic to include information and illustrations uncovered since the appearance of the first edition.

Four new essays were commissioned for this reprint. Christopher Hume, architecture critic and urban affairs columnist for the Toronto Star, addresses the changes to the city since the appearance of the third edition in 1986. Architect and heritage preservation activist Catherine Nasmith assesses the current status of the city's heritage preservation movement. Susan Crean, a freelance writer in Toronto, explores Toronto's vibrant arts scene. Mark Kingwell, professor and cultural commentator, reflects on the development of professional and amateur sports in and around town.

Readers will delight in these anecdotal accounts of the city's rich architectural heritage.

“INTRODUCTION” TO M.E. A PORTRAYAL OF EMILY CARR

To M.E. A Portrayal of Emily Carr written by Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher, Mother Tongue (Feb. 15 2014).

M.E. A Portrayal of Emily Carr is a rare and moving study of an artist’s struggle against despair and loneliness and an intimate portrayal of the close friendship between Edythe and Emily. The two artists were good friends and met not long after Edythe had returned from Paris where she had studied art. Written as a friendly appreciation of the character of Emily Carr, rather than her life, Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher's rendering was described in reviews of the time as "a fond memoir, well-written, a modest and excellent little book, throws new light on her methods of painting and describes the humourous adventures of camping with Emily Carr.” It also contains edited versions of 20 letters written by Carr to her friend, and the cover features a rare painting of Carr recently discovered. M.E. was first published in 1969 and has been out of print for years.

Susan Crean wrote the introduction to the book.

“THE PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL” IN TRACING THE LINES

In Tracing the Lines: Reflections on Contemporary Poetics and Cultural Politics in Honour of Roy Miki. Eds., Maia Joseph et al. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2012.

"Passionate critic, principled citizen, attentive reader and editor, and energizing teacher – Roy Miki is all these and more, a poet whose writing articulates a moving body of work. The two main areas of his passionate research and writing – social critique and poetics – inform each other in these essays, poems, and artwork compiled to mark a milestone in the life of an important public intellectual."

I got to know Roy Miki in the Writers’ Union of Canada during the late 1980s when activists in the Union began to work issues of race. This eventually led to two national meetings of writer-of-colour convened by the Union. Roy led the committee that organized the second and larger one, Writing Thru Race in 1994. In June 2009 a conference to celebrate Roy’s extraordinary life as a writer, thinker, teacher and activist was held at the Firehall Theater in Vancouver. Tracing the Lines is a collection of the presentations made by a host of artists, writers and academics who participated. What I most remember of the occasion was a conversation with Phinder Dulai when I lamented the fact that the work done in the Union had not led to long term change. In response he noted that while a tiny minority of writers at the Writing Thru Race had published, in the intervening 20 years most of them had been. So progress has definitely been made.

Download a PDF version (468Kb) of  the essay: “The Public Intellectual.”

“LAUNCHING THE GLOBAL VILLAGE” IN RENEGADE BODIES: CANADIAN DANCE IN THE 1970S

In Renegade Bodies: Canadian Dance in the 1970s. Eds., Allana Lingren and Kaija Pepper. Victoria: University of Victoria Press, 2012.

"Comprising 15 essays by Canadian writers and scholars, Renegade Bodies is a book that embraces lively discussion about artistic and cultural shifts along with the social and political transformations of the 1970s. How were dance and its practitioners affected by the vigorous and varying beliefs, the principles and key societal trends of the times?"

Renegade Bodies: Canadian Dance in the 1970s began as an anthology to celebrate the life and achievements of dancer Lawrence Adams following his early death 2003. I was contacted by Allana Lingren early on in the project and agreed to write about Lawrence’s fascination with new electronic technology. Most specifically, how he deployed video to record the work of Canadian choreographers and dancers, and how he and his partner Miriam Adams later started a weekly arts review Night Lights on community television that led to a proposal for a Pay-TV licence in 1981. The book evolved into a larger look at the decade of the seventies in dance. I got to know Lawrence and Miriam then,  artists from all disciplines were working together to establish a Canadian-made art scene. I appeared on Night Lights several times and worked with Lawrence in the Artists’ Alliance.

For more background, see the article on Lawrence and Miriam Adams in The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Download a PDF version (443Kb) of “Launching the Global Village.”

Buy the book here.

“BOTH SIDES NOW: DESIGNING WHITE MEN AND THE OTHER SIDE OF HISTORY”

In Response, Responsibility, and Renewal — Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Journey. Eds., Gregory Young-Ing, et al. Ottawa, Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2009.

"Along with the narrative about the founding of Canada by both the French and the English came the notion—preached by the likes of Emily Carr and Marius Barbeau, as well as D.C. Scott—of Aboriginal culture constituting Canada’s ancient past, the prehistory upon which the modern nation could be built and with which an authentic Canadian culture could be fashioned.... The story of Canada I was raised on, thus, denied the connection between assimilation and appropriation, between the past and the present."

For several years I worked on the issue of Traditional Knowledge with Greg Young-Ing who was a founding co-chair of the Creator’s Right’s Alliance in 2002 along with Michel Beauchemin and me (representing respectively Indigenous Peoples, Quebec and Canada). Greg was an editor of the second volume of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s anthology called Response, Responsibility, and Renewal — Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Journey, and following a conversation we had in Toronto about the non-involvement of Canadians who are not directly implicated in the residential school tragedy (ie. the State, the churches, the victims, and the individual perpetrators of abuse who happened to get caught) he suggested I write something. The third volume looks at “Cultivating Canada — Reconciliation through the lens of Cultural Diversity" and also makes the point that reconciliation is everyone’s business.

Download a PDF version of the essay "Both Sides Now: Designing White Men and the Other Side of History."

THE PRESENTATION OF SELF IN EMILY CARR’S WRITINGS

In Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian Icon. Curators, Charles C. Hill, et al. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2006.

"Sophie Frank was an artist and a thinker and, in spite of her life circumstances, she continued to create many beautiful weavings. She maintained a long friendship with Emily Carr. A thirty year relationship between women is never devoid of personal thoughts and conversations about love,work,and tragedies. Sophie would have shared her cultural knowledge and many of her insights on art with a woman whom she was so fond of, a woman who would nevertheless go on to demean and primitivize her existence after her death."

I wrote this essay with Shirley Bear for the exhibition Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian Icon organized by the National Gallery and the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2006. It is based on a performance piece Shirley and I created together called Dear Emily / Dear Sophie about Salish basket maker Sophie Frank and her long time friend Emily Carr using correspondence between the two women we discovered in the archives in Victoria. We presented it at the VAG when the redesigned Carr galleries were opened in 1996. The piece was billed as “a contemporary dialogue about art, appropriation and friendship”. It was later performed and the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria, and Emily Carr College of Art in Vancouver.

Download a PDF version of  the essay “The Presentation of Self in Emily Carr’s Writings.” Buy a copy of Emily Carr: New Perspective on a Canadian Icon here.

WITNESS TO WILDERNESS: THE CLAYOQUOT SOUND ANTHOLOGY

In Witness To Wilderness: The Clayoquot Sound anthology, Arsenal Press, 1994.

An all-star collection of essays, poems, and photographs by 120 writers and artists to celebrate the ancient forests of Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island. Contributors include: Don Coles, Susan Crean, Lorna Crozier, Des Kennedy, Joy Kogawa, Patrick Lane, Mary Meigs, Susan Musgrave, P. K. Page, Al Purdy, Raeside, Phyllis Webb, and George and Inge Woodcock.

“WRITING ALONG GENDER LINES” IN LANGUAGE IN HER EYE

In Language in Her Eye: Views on Writing and Gender by Canadian Women Writing in English (Coach House Press), 1990.

This collection of original essays, articles, and commentaries by 44 distinguished authors, poets, fiction writers, essayists, biographers, and journalists includes contributions from Margaret Atwood, Dionne Brand, June Callwood, Barbara Godard, Janette Turner Hospital, Linda Hutcheon, Paulette Jiles, Dorothy Livesay, Daphne Marlatt, Erin Moure, Erika Ritter, Jane Rule, Gail Scott, Carol Shields, and Susan Swan. Topics include the existence--or lack thereof--of a specifically female or feminist point of view; appropriation of voice; the influence of various currents in feminist literary theory; the particular versus the universal, and the ambiguities inherent in such issue. Articulate, revelatory, and humorous, these essays are essential reading for those interested in the most transformative and influential social and cultural movement of this century.

“THE THIRTY PERCENT SOLUTION: SEXISM IN FINE ART” IN THIS MAGAZINE

In This Magazine, January 1984.

"In 1978 Ottawa artist Jane Martin was the first to brave the opprobrium of the art world by tallying up figures on the number of Canadian Council grants awarded to women in the visual arts, comparing that to the number of women present on the juries. What was truly startling about Martin's findings was the underrepresentation of women."

Susan Crean's "The Thirty Percent Solution: Sexism in Fine Art," was reprinted in Canadian Women's Issues: Volume I: Strong Voices. By Ruth Roach Pierson, Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Paula Bourne, Philinda Masters. Lorimer: (Jan. 1 1993).