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Poet influences other writers

 Tom Wayman was chosen as the ninth Ralph Gustafson Chair of Poetry at Malaspina University-College. He’ll give two readings late this month, both free and open to the public. -  Photo contributed
Tom Wayman was chosen as the ninth Ralph Gustafson Chair of Poetry at Malaspina University-College. He’ll give two readings late this month, both free and open to the public.
— image credit: Photo contributed

A Canadian poet credited with influencing other writers to pick up a pen was chosen as the Ralph Gustafson Chair of Poetry at Malaspina University-College.

Tom Wayman will give two readings this month at the college, beginning with a student-centred event Wednesday (Oct. 17), plus an evening lecture Oct. 18 titled Living with the ‘Post’ies: the Music of Poetry in a Discordant World.

The Ralph and Betty Gustafson Trust was established at Malaspina University-College in 1998 from the estate of the late Ralph Gustafson, one of Canada’s pre-eminent poets. The trust endows an annual Chair of Poetry at Malaspina. Wayman is the ninth Poetry Chair, following Canadian poets Patricia Young, Susan Musgrave, Gary Geddes, Patrick Lane, Robert Bringhurst, Liz Lochhead, Don Domanski and Dionne Brand.

“The Gustafson Poetry Chair represents public and institutional recognition that poetry has cultural merit,” said Wayman. “The Gustafson Poetry Chair reaffirms that there are things of worth on this planet whose value cannot be measured in dollars. Since this is a belief I share, I am very pleased to be associated with the Gustafson Poetry Chair.”

Wayman has published in excess of 15 poetry collections since the early 1970s, his latest – High Speed Through Shoaling Waters. Wayman’s previous title, My Father’s Cup, published in 2002, was short listed for the 2003 B.C. Book Prize and the 2003 Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry. Currently teaching at the University of Calgary, Wayman is also the 2007 Fulbright visiting chair in creative writing at Arizona State University.

“Tom is a Canadian treasure,” said Kait Braid, a creative writing professor at Malaspina and former student of Wayman. “He has pointed out a vital piece of Canadian literature – he has created a Canadian literature of work. He has influenced many writers to pick up a pen and contribute to the body of this literature.”

“Wayman assembles a poetics of everyday life,” added Deborah Torkko, Malaspina English professor. “Reading his poems is to see ourselves reflected in the simplest of day-to-day experience. Love, land, labour – all are presented in relationship to particular circumstances, an accumulation of moments, mundane or marvellous, momentary or enduring, fleeting or momentous.”

Wayman will be reading Wednesday (Oct. 17) 2:30 -4 p.m. at Malaspina in building 356, room 109 and Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in building 355, room 203. Both events are free and open to the public.

Wayman is incredibly proud to be recognized by the Gustafson Trust and is looking forward to the readings.

“I love seeing the public face of my audience,” he said. “And the existence of the Gustafson Trust reinforces the idea that Canadian poets represent a vital contribution to our nation’s common life. Such a reminder of poetry’s importance is equally necessary in good times and darker times.”

For more information on the Gustafson Trust or Tom Wayman’s upcoming readings, please call 753-3245, local 2127 or visit the website at www.mala.ca/gustafson.

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