In July of 1955, a few literary folks showed up in Kingston, Ontario to discuss the state of affairs in literature in Canada. Here is a small sampling of the attendees at the Canadian Writers’ Conference:
Desmond Pacey, Eli Mandel, Anne Wilkinson, Dorothy Livesay, Hugh Garner, L. N. Cohen, James Reaney, Marjory Whitelaw, Earle Birney, Phyllis Webb, Adele Wiseman, Ralph Gustafson, Douglas Spettigue, Miriam Waddington, Irving Layton, Jay Macpherson, F. R Scott, Louis Dudek, A. J. M. Smith, Morley Callaghan.
As Margaret Atwood would say – “Kaboom!”
Despite George Whalley’s excellent collection surrounding the conference, there is a major gap that exists in the proceedings. It is well known that Leonard Cohen and Irving Layton pulled off some controversial poetry readings that charged the more intellectual affairs of the conference, and led to major disputes among attendees. Despite the fact that there were representatives from the Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, and the CBC, there is no audio, film, or photos that I can find of such excellent historical events. Thus, I call on EMiCers to seek out possible evidence in individual authors’ archives. Can I please ask, if you get the opportunity, to see if there is anything associated with the 1955 Canadian Writers’ Conference at Queen’s University in relation to any research you may be undertaking with specific authors’ fonds. Anything you find would be appreciated. And catching a photo of the whole troupe together will earn you one-hundred times the Glory