7000 College Way
Vernon, BC, V1B 2N5

General Inquiries:


Jason Dewinetz & Kerry Gilbert

WIR Coordinator:

Kerry Gilbert


Jason Dewinetz


Joan Smeyers

Flight Calls

Brenda Schmidt

Mackie Lecture & Reading Series 9

In the tradition of Annie Dilliard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, David Abram’s The Spell Of The Sensuous, Sharon Butala’s The Pefection of Morning and Don McKay’s Vis a Vis, Brenda Schmidt’s Flight Calls is a  book of meditations on landscape and the way human consciousness experiences landscape.  Sub-titled, An Apprentice On The Art Of Listening,  Flight Calls presents a large acoustic that is Saskatchewan, while struggling with the humility required to fully inhabit that acoustic. Though Schmidt tackles these things in a sequence of ten essays, the circuitry of the narrative is caused by prompts from the poet Gerald Hill, and the result is another acoustic, another listening, as the reader has to hold---as in the best jazz suites or classical symphonies---the imagery and processes in the poetry beneath the narrative that make it a whole, that make it one thing rather than ten things.

Flight Calls adds to that rich corner of Canadian Prairie Literature where Wallace Stegner, Sean Virgo, Tim Lilburn, Don Gayton, Sharon Butala, Myrna Kostash, George Melnyck, Dave Carpenter…and so many other essayists have broken ground.

"Brenda Schmidt's observations on her journey into both a writing life and the wilderness around her Saskatchewan home are immediate, personal and rare. Working with her writing mentor, Gerald Hill, who provides epigraphs to guide her, Schmidt reminds herself to "pay attention. As writers like to say, this is material." Her doubts and vulnerabilities are poignant. Reading Flight Calls is like taking a walk with a patient listener who knows when to speak and when to stay silent. I felt privileged to accompany her. — Frances Greenslade, "

—Frances Greenslade

Author Name

Brenda Schmidt is a writer, visual artist, naturalist and active blogger based in Creighton, a mining town on the Canadian Shield in northern Saskatchewan. Brenda grew up on a farm in the Coteau Hills of southwestern Saskatchewan. She has a BA in English from the University of Waterloo. She is a former nurse and has lived in northern Saskatchewan for twenty-six years. Brenda is the author of four books of poetry, A Haunting Sun (Thistledown Press, 2001), More than Three Feet of Ice (Thistledown Press, 2005), Cantos from Wolverine Creek (Hagios Press, 2008), and Grid (Hagios Press, 2012). She was a finalist for the Saskatchewan Book Award for Poetry in 2001, winner of the Alfred G. Bailey Prize for Poetry in 2003 and a finalist for the CBC Literary Award for poetry on four occasions. Brenda’s paintings have hung in solo and group exhibitions in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. She is one of the artists featured in the book Celebrating Saskatchewan Artists (Saskatchewan Arts Alliance, 2006).

^ back to top

perhaps i should / miskien moet ek

Peter Midgley

Mackie Lecture & Reading Series 8

Peter Midgley’s perhaps I should / miskien moet ek, a poetic volume in English and Afrikaans, reflects Midgley’s ongoing engagement with his homeland. It is a stunning collection of poems that grapples with the complexities of the human, the political and the physical geographies of African landscapes in a way that only an insider could.  There is dark and light everywhere in these geographies, but always beauty.


Author Name

Peter Midgley's first children's book, Thuli's Mattress, won the 1996 IBBY-Asahi Award for Literacy Promotion and has been translated into twenty-seven languages. His first play, Archetypes, was performed at the Standard Bank National Festival of the Arts in Grahamstown in 1988. Namlish, a political farce about Namibian independence (co-authored with Dorian Haarhoff) premiered at the Space Theatre in Windhoek in 1990. Peter's scholarly works include Sol Plaatje: A Biography (1997); The Heroic Memory (2004), an edited volume of talks on Winston Churchill; The Diary of Irish Vaughan, co-edited with Peter Alexander (2004); and Grappling with the Beast: Indigenous South(ern) African Responses to Colonialism (2010). Peter is currently working on a book-length project, A Truce Stranger than Fiction: Reflections on Namibian Independence.

^ back to top

The Unsettled: New Poems

Mona Fertig

Mackie Lecture & Reading Series 7

"I have always been struck by three qualities in Mona Fertig's poetry: a sensuousness, an honoring of the sometimes beautiful, sometimes awkwardly real world at the poet's feet, and a spiritual density that cracks through anywhere. Mona has one of the strongest voices among our poets, and that is why the publishing of The Unsettled is an occasion. In these new poems Fertig's vision spirals through the world we inhabit, catching different aspects of it in its lyrical nets, but especially the contradictory worlds confronting us here on the western edge of this continent: worlds of progress and wilderness, men and women, youth and age, comedy and tragedy. Nowhere is this more evident than in the volume's stunning, closing hymn to Salt Spring Island, 'This is Paradise.'"

—John Lent

Author Name

Mona Fertig, born in Vancouver, is a poet, publisher, and book artist. She was founder and Director of Canada's first literary centre, the Literary Storefront, in Vancouver's Gastown, which operated from 1978-1982. A founding member of the Federation of BC Writers, the BC Book Prizes and the Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets she has been the BC/Yukon Rep of The Writer's Union of Canada, and the BC Rep of PEN Canada. Fertig has also been a bookseller, literary events and political organizer, and host of a poetry show on Vancouver Co-op Radio. She is the co-owner/operator, with her husband, of Mother Tongue Publishing on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.

^ back to top

Out of the Ordinary

Gary Geddes

Mackie Lecture & Reading Series 6

"The range of Gary Geddes' poetry, and of his community on poetics, is so wide, I can't think of another contemporary Canadian poet who could have written such incisive essays on the long poem, and on the political power of knowledge. I enjoy Geddes' wrestling with the key artistic issues of our time, especially the transformed poetics required to sustain the long poem. This book is a rich addition to Geddes' work and to our ongoing dialogue about the mysterious and unavoidable intermingling of vision, art, and life."

—John Lent

Author Name

Gary Geddes is the author/editor of more than thirty-five books of poetry, fiction, drama, non-fiction, criticism, translation and anthologies, Geddes has been very active in promoting other Canadian writers. He was founding-editor of a series of critical monographs called Studies in Canadian Literature (Copp Clark / McGill-Queens). His best-known anthologies, 20th-Century Poetry & Poetics and 15 Canadian Poets (both from Oxford) have gone into numerous editions, have had an enormous impact on the teaching and writing of poetry in Canada. His national and international awards include the E.J. Pratt Medal, the National Poetry Prize, the Americas Best Book Award in the 1985 Commonwealth Poetry Competition, the Writers' Choice Award, National Magazine Gold Award, Poetry Book Society Recommendation (U.K.) the Archibald Lampman Prize (twice), and the Gabriela Mistral Prize in 1996 for service to literature and the people of Chile (awarded simultaneously to Nobel laureates Octavio Paz and Vaclav Havel and to Ernesto Cardenal, Rafael Alberti, and Mario Benedetti). His archives have been purchased and housed in the National Library, Ottawa. .

^ back to top

Sleights of Hand

Dawne McCance

Mackie Lecture & Reading Series 5

 This is an astonishingly rich set of meditations that are subtle, witty and completely in touch with the significant acrobatics of Derrida’s philosophy. Though Derridean scholars will find this book an important addition to the ongoing pursuit and analysis of the body of his writing, any reader interested in contemporary aesthetics will find this book fascinating and rewarding . .

"What does it mean to write - in relation to what Derrida means by "writing"? In asking this question, McCance has produced a text that is, at once, a fresh introduction to Derrida's thought and a canny complement to it."

—Craig McLuckie

Dawne McCance is Distinguished Professor and former Head, Department of Religion, University of Manitoba, and Editor of Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature. She teaches and writes on the work of Jacques Derrida, for example in Medusa’s Ear (SUNY Press, 2004), a study of his writing on the modern research university. .



^ back to top

Abundance: The Mackie House

Robert Kroetsch & John Lent

Mackie Lecture & Reading Series 4

This conversation between Robert Kroetsch and John Lent is guided by love—of the word, of stories, of reading, of teaching… It's enthralling to listen to these two veteran writers circling around the topic, returning to the centre, to the question "where's that damn story?"

—Sean Johnston




Author Name

Robert Kroetsch was born in 1927 in Heisler, Alberta, and was known throughout his long career as Canada's major postmodern writer. His first novel in 1965, But We Are Exiles, may follow a more realist tradition but combines elements of myth and literary allusion. His "Out West" triptych, Words of My Roaring (1966), The Studhorse Man (1969) and Gone Indian (1973) further explore myth and the magical/fabulous. With all of the uses of myth, magic and literary allusions, his texts resist one single reading or interpretation, seriously challenging traditional literary practices. Also prevalent in his novels is the parody of the traditional male quest, seen in The Studhorse Man (for which he won a Governor-General’s award), Gone Indian and Badlands (1975). In What the Crow Said, Kroetsch experiments with Magical Realism. All of his novels take place in Canada, particularly in the Prairies.



John Lent lives in Vernon, BC, where he taught Creative Writing and Literature Courses for Okanagan College for twenty-six years. So It Won't Go Away (2005) is his seventh book and is a sequel to his 1996 work of fiction, Monet's Garden, in its third printing. Other books by Lent include The Face In The Garden (1990) and Black Horses, Cobalt Suns (2000). John has written scholarly articles on Malcolm Lowry, Thomas De Quincey, Wilfred Watson, Mavis Gallant, Kristiana Gunnars and others, and has always been fascinated by the representation of consciousness as narrative. He is a founding member of Kalamalka Press, The Kalamalka Institute For Working Writers, and the annual Mackie Lecture and Reading Series at Okanagan College in Vernon. Lent is also a singer/songwriter in the Lent / Fraser / Wall Trio whose CD, Shadow Moon, was released in 2005.

^ back to top

A Dialogue of Culture and Nature

David Pitt-Brooke & Christine McPhee

Mackie Lecture & Reading Series 3

 Accommodation: A Dialogue of Culture and Nature is a strong addition to the growing material in the genres of ‘wilderness literature & writing’ and the complicated discipline of eco-poetics.  Both Pitt-Brooke and McPhee add  to these genres in significant ways, Pitt-Brooke in his sensitivity to the relationship between the natural world of British Columbia and its peoples, and McPhee in her scholarly eye on the importance of rigor being maintained  in any of these discussions of how we ‘see’ the physical world, both practically and philosophically.


David Pitt-Brooke trained originally as a biologist and veterinarian. He served almost ten years with Parks Canada working as naturalist and educator in Glacier NP, Mount Revelstoke NP, Waterton Lakes NP, and ultimately Pacific Rim National Park. He subsequently established his own communications business and has written on a wide variety of topics – from grizzly bears to critical path analysis. In June 2002 he received a Canadian Science Writer’s Association Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Science Journalism in Canadian Media.” Pitt-Brooke’s first book was Chasing Clayquot, a voyage of personal discovery.

Christine McPhee has a background in both the arts (English) and the sciences (geology) and is a Research Assistant working as a project manager with DiiG. Christine is also working on the Designing Digital Information Use Environments project with Rick Kopak and Heather O'Brien, in particular, examining how activity theory informs the creation and evaluation of online reading environments. Christine completed her MLIS degree and is now a librarian at the Maple Ridge Library.

^ back to top

Country Music: New Poems

Dennis Cooley

Mackie Lecture & Reading Series 2

"Country Music: New Poems is as prairie as the long poem gets, and breathes new life into an established form, and writes the poem out as far as it will go, Cooley's sly eye smirks in every line of continuous and familiar song."

—The Antigonish Review





Author Name

Dennis Cooley has had a rich career as an innovative poet in Canadian Literature, as a much published theorist regarding contemporary poetics , and a much  loved professor of literature at The University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.  He has published fourteen volumes of poetry and one volume of poetics called The Vernacular Muse.  He is most famous for his highly original long poem, Bloody Jack (1984) , but some of his other books of poetry include Fielding (1983), Dedications (1988), Irene (2000) and Seeing Red (2003).

^ back to top

Sean O'Casey's Theatre of War

Ronald Ayling

Mackie Lecture & Reading Series 1.

Professor Ronald Ayling has written on literatures from a variety of countries, emphasizing Shakespeare, Modern Drama, and Anglo-Irish drama. He has served as the Literary Advisor to the Sean O'Casey Estate, on the editorial boards of Research in the Humanities (New York), Modernist Studies (Edmonton), Enquiry (Nottingham), Nineteenth Century Theatre Research (Edmonton), and as a Member of the Board of Governors of Saor-Ollscoil na hÉireann [the Free University of Ireland]. His academic work comprises several noted collections on O'Casey's dramaturgy, autobiographies and letters, including Sean O'Casey: Modern Judgments, O'Casey the Dublin Trilogy, and with Michael J. Durkin, the Besterman Award for Distinguished Bibliographical Work, Seán O'Casey: A Bibliography. Professor Ayling has also edited a collection of O'Casey's stories and trenchant theatre criticism, Blasts and Benedictions: Articles and Stories and a volume of essays, J.M. Synge: Four Plays. He has lectured at universities in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

^ back to top