Prairie Fire Writer-in-Residence Katherine Bitney at Aqua Books January - October 2009
(press release 12.15.08)
KATHERINE BITNEY NAMED PRAIRIE FIRE'S FIRST WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE
Prairie Fire, Manitoba's magazine of Canadian writing, is pleased to announce that Winnipeg poet Katherine Bitney has been named the first writer-in-residence in the magazine's thirty-year history. Ms Bitney, who is a founding editor of Prairie Fire, will serve as writer-in-residence for two days a week beginning January 6, 2009. Her term will run for ten months, until the end of October. Ms Bitney will be based in Aqua Books, which is located at 274 Garry Street in downtown Winnipeg.
As writer-in-residence, Ms Bitney will read writers' manuscripts and offer feedback and constructive criticism. This service will be free, but will be restricted to writers writing about and/or out of the boreal forest of Manitoba. This could include writers currently living in a boreal forest community, or who have moved to Winnipeg from a boreal forest community, or who have simply spent time in the boreal forest, whether for purposes of recreation, research, work or some other reason.
The writer-in-residence will read and comment on writing of all types, both short and long, including drama, fiction, non-fiction and poetry. She will offer her reading service in person (by appointment only) or by long distance via Canada Post or email. Part of her job will be to identify writers who have manuscripts suitable for publication in a future special issue of Prairie Fire magazine devoted to writing of the boreal forest.
Katherine Bitney's upcoming residency at Aqua Books is part of a larger, multi-year project being undertaken by Prairie Fire Press in collaboration with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra under the title "Boreality." The purpose of this project is to celebrate the boreal forest of Manitoba through a multidisciplinary approach involving writing, music, sound and photography. Ms Bitney is one member of a creative team that will go out four times to sample the environment and produce new works of art. An announcement of the creative team's first trip will follow shortly. Boreality is made possible in part by support from the Winnipeg Arts Council's New Creations Fund.
The following items can be found below: a brief biographical note about Katherine Bitney; a synopsis of the Boreality project. A photograph of Ms Bitney is available upon request.
For more information, contact Janine Tschuncky, Managing Editor and Project Co-ordinator.
Prairie Fire Press, Inc.
423-100 Arthur St.
Winnipeg, MB R3B 1H3
Tel.: (204) 943-9066
Fax: (204) 942-1555
Katherine Bitney is the author of three critically acclaimed books of poetry: While You Were Out (Turnstone Press, 1981), Heart and Stone (Turnstone Press, 1989) and Singing Bone (The Muses Company, 1997), and is currently working on a fourth collection of poems. With Andris Taskans, she co-edited A/Cross Sections (MWG, 2007). She has worked as an editor, mentor, and creative writing instructor, as well as arts juror and creative director for literary events for over 30 years in Manitoba.
The Boreality Project is a collaborative effort between Prairie Fire Press, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra (MCO) and four Winnipeg-based artists. The artists who comprise the project's creative team are Katherine Bitney (writer), Ken Gregory (sound artist), Mandy Malazdrewich (photographer) and Sid Robinovitch (composer). The purpose of this three-year project is to celebrate the boreal forest of Manitoba through a multidisciplinary approach involving writing, sound, music and photography.
The project's writer, Katherine Bitney, has been selected because she is a senior Winnipeg poet and a founding editor of Prairie Fire magazine. Ms Bitney is the originator of the project's boreal theme. The project's composer, Sid Robinovitch, has been selected because he is a senior Winnipeg composer who has considerable experience setting writers' words to music and composing for choirs and orchestra. The project's sound artist, Ken Gregory, has been selected because of his experience in collaborative projects such as film shoots and modern dance. The project's photographer, Mandy Malazdrewich, also has been selected because of her experience in collaborative projects, including Prairie Fire's Home Place series.
Stage One will require the creative team to travel to a variety of locales in the boreal forest, visiting at least one per season, for a minimum of four excursions. During these visits, the members of the creative team will encounter nature and will meet the people who live in boreal forest communities. Environmental reaction will inform the creation of each artist's work; however, the artists will also be expected to interact with each other. Creation will be a collaborative process, although some works will precede others. For example, Katherine Bitney will write a long poem suitable for publication in Prairie Fire magazine. Working with composer Sid Robinovitch, she will adapt her poem into a libretto, which will be set to music by Mr. Robinovitch and eventually performed by the MCO. During the boreal excursions, sound artist Ken Gregory will sample the environment. His recordings will inform Mr. Robinovitch's composition, but they will also be used as materials for a sound installation of Mr. Gregory's own creation. Mandy Malazdrewich will have the double task of reacting to the boreal environment and also documenting the other artists' process. Her work will eventually be published in Prairie Fire, projected on stage during the concert and displayed in the gallery that will house Mr. Gregory's sound installation. In these ways, and in others that can't be predicted, the members of the creative team will interact with the environment and with each other in order to produce a wide variety both of solo and collaborative works.
Stage Two of the project will follow immediately after Stage One. Ms Bitney will edit a special issue of Prairie Fire in which will appear her long poem/libretto along with work on the boreal theme by writers and artists from across Canada. We anticipate that the premiere performance of Mr. Robinovitch's new composition will take place in the spring of 2011 as part of the MCO's subscription series. We will give each audience member a free copy of the issue of Prairie Fire that includes the libretto. This issue will also be given a festive launch. Education and outreach activities will be planned for Stage Two in conjunction with the concert, publication, display and installation. Depending on funding, a compact disc recording of the performance may be produced and the new composition may be toured to some of the boreal forest communities that inspired it.
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