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Linda Besner at Traill College: The Writers Reading Series

The Writers Reading series is hosted at Traill College by the English Department. As the host and organizer of the event, Professor Lewis Macleod stated in his introduction, “We’re here tonight to listen and to explore, I think, and not to contain, and to ask the question: what is this singularly interesting voice up to?” On this particular Wednesday night, it was the voice of Linda Besner, a Writer’s Trust of Canada Five x Five emerging artist. Her first book The Id Kid (2011), was selected as The National Post’s Best Poetry Book of the Year and her second book, Feel Happier in Nine Seconds, will be released in the spring of next year.

Linda’s work was described recurrently throughout the night as “oblique and profound,” and what an incredibly accurate statement. The room was wonderstruck by such phrases as “waterboarding daffodils” and “the world is your Kleenex”. There was also a touch of humour to the event, such as when the audience was asked, “What would you guys suggest as banter for a poem entitled Our Baby?” Likewise, in the invitation, “If you are or aren’t mad, come talk to me after,” in regards to the recent Nobel prize for literature being awarded to Bob Dylan.

The purpose of these author readings is not simply to sit in awe at the brilliance of these authors by reaching for some sense of clarity in their words. Rather, the far more appealing part of the event is in conversing with the author after the reading. With free food provided at the Trend, the atmosphere of the event unwinds from the traditional aspect of an author’s reading to far more relaxed conversation over great food. This also helps aspiring writers in the crowd to transfer their view of figures such as Besner from that of a brilliant author, which has the potential to cause feelings of shyness or anxiety, to the far more relatable person who was still editing her poems in the car ride over, as any dedicated writer may find themselves doing from time to time.

Perhaps the most compelling aspects of the author’s reading were in those small facts that can rarely be found in any biography or interview: the confession that the title Feel Happier in Nine Seconds was stolen from the cover article of a Cosmo magazine. The small part of history in Linda’s first poem at a Remembrance Day assembly, or in the detailed examination of Linda’s own innovative poetic form. While some of these facts are emerge naturally during the reading, some require the questions and interests of the crowd. On behalf of Arthur, you are invited to explore more intriguing curiosities in the next author reading on Wednesday, November 9 with Trent alumnus Joshua Trotter!

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