Friday, May 1, 2009

Creative Nonfiction in Banff

The Canadian Way

Welcome to the annual Creative Nonfiction Collective Conference at the Banff Centre. Decorated with music rehearsal huts separated by deer browse (the little brown huts behind the oh-so-out-of-place truck in the above photograph) and famous for mountains hidden behind buildings meant to look like mountains,

The Mountains of Banff

the Banff Centre is a little piece of Canada tucked into an ancient, sacred aboriginal site in the Alberta Rocky Mountains.

This year, I gave a talk there, called Truth and Myth in Creative Nonfiction. To make a long story short, here is my thesis:

The Truth About Creative Nonfiction

My talk cast a wide net, between John Dee and Goethe, between Newton and Terry Glavin, to argue that the literary genre otherwise known as Creative Nonfiction has the potential to be more than journalism or memoir or even literature, and certainly more than 'the use of fictional techniques in nonfiction.'

Monica Meneghetti added the important gloss that it's more than a genre. It's a mode of writing in the world. I sure do look forward to exploring this idea with her more.

Monica Meneghetti Hanging Out at Banff

And then, west of Edmonton, on my long way home again, I found this:

Nonsense in Northern Alberta

I was on my way to McCleese Lake, where deep in the bush outside of the Gibraltar Mine I spent two days with the horse logger and poet Lorne Dufour, editing his new book of creative nonfiction Jacob's Prayer.

Here's a teaser from the publisher's teaser:

In 1974 Lorne Dufour moved to Alkali Lake Reserve, a Shuswap community near Williams Lake in British Columbia, to help reopen the local elementary school. Like many First Nation communities across Canada, Alkali Lake had been ravaged by decades of residential schools and forced religion. Colonialism had robbed them of their language and culture and had left a legacy of abuse and alcoholism.

We're all on this path, I think. Other paths? I think Banff wants the last word on that:

The State of the Status Quo

Mountains, you might say, take up a lot of space. And that, too, is the Banff way.

1 comment:

sandra said...

Harold, I just mailed a copy of a Man Alive program about healing circles in Alkali Lake, set up for incest survivors. The copy went to a 73-yr. old Puyallup woman in Washington State who is just finishing her PhD on incest. The legacies of going back and healing the diseased keep moving outward.

Look forward to hearing more about Monica. Czam