Paul Watkins

Vancouver Island University lecture examines poet Wayde Compton’s work

Vancouver Island University English professor Paul Watkins discusses Compton's poetry book Performance Bond and Hogan's Alley.

Poet Wayde Compton is widely known for his experimental work.

In Compton’s book Performance Bond, he explores urban renewal’s impact on communities located in inner cities, focusing strongly on Hogan’s Alley.

Hogan’s Alley was the unofficial name of Park Lane in Vancouver. The area had a diverse ethnic community and a substantial black Canadian population.

In the 1970s, Vancouver’s city council destroyed a large portion of Hogan’s Alley during the first phase of the Georgia Viaduct, displacing community members. Activists fought construction and the freeway was never completed.

The book Performance Bond is paired with a CD of Compton reading his poem The Reinventing Wheel, which incorporates hip hop, turntable mixing, musical beats and samples.

Compton’s book is the subject of Vancouver Island University’s Arts and Humanities Colloquium Series discussion Hogan’s Alley Remixed: Learning Through Wayde Compton’s Poetics. Paul Watkins, a VIU English professor, is lecturing about Compton’s work during the event.

Watkins said what makes Compton’s work so engaging is his DJ mix, which plays with various traditions. Compton plays with traditions such as oral and written, sonic and visual, African and European, black and white, local and global and Canadian and American.

“He does this in order to provide critiques on power and history, identity and by using these various intertexts like a DJ, Compton challenges existing discourses and neglected histories such as the black community of Hogan’s Alley,” said Watkins.

Compton’s experimental work incorporates hip hop, jazz and improvisation and often incorporates history and black politics, said Watkins.

“In particular he does so to look into memory and origins of hip hop and the ramifications of urban renewal in North America’s inner cities,” said Watkins.

The Hogan’s Alley Remixed discussion is Friday (Nov. 25) from 10-11:30 a.m. at Malaspina Theatre. The sessions are free to attend.

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