Wednesday, 12 October 2011 15:53

Epp will read out loud at Write Out Loud

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By Jessi Gowan — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Author and professor Roger Epp will be at the Lyric Theatre on Oct. 23 to read from his most recent work, We Are All Treaty People: Prairie Essays. Part of the Write Out Loud series at the theatre, the reading will also feature musical entertainment.

Having spent more than two decades in universities, Epp has been writing every day for many years. Currently, he is employed as a Professor of Political Studies at the University of Alberta, but before going into teaching, Epp worked as a journalist.

“While writing is not my primary work, I feel that it’s important for people who teach in universities to actually write things for people who are not in that world,” he explained. “I write all over the map, but the essays in my most recent book are collected together because they are all grounded in the rural prairie west of Canada.”

A native of rural Saskatchewan, Epp is what he calls a ‘prairie person’, a multi-generational settler who has lived most of his life in a landmass called Treaty 6. This land is comprised of areas of central Saskatchewan and central Alberta, and has been inhabited by Epp’s family for generations.

“The essays in the book represent an attempt to think through what it means to live here, to be attentive to one’s own history and cultural formation, and to have an in-depth understanding of place,” Epp noted. “This was not an empty place when my settler ancestors came, and there is an inheritance there to be picked up.”

After finishing a PhD in Ontario, Epp was fortunate to find a position back in his prairie home.

Upon returning, he started thinking about the place where he lived, and the place where most of his students lived, as well.

“All of those things sort of came together and it seemed important, especially at that point in the mid-nineties when it seemed like the rural prairies were under enormous economic and cultural stress, I thought I would try to be one of the voices validating that world,” he added. “I wanted to be an advocate for rural communities and family farm agriculture.”

His hope is the essays in the book can connect with people in a personal way, since they are an effort to validate a world that is so common for many of us who live here in the prairies. Through reading his book or listening to his essays, he hopes people will also be prodded to reflect on their own being here — not just the history of it, but what it means to live here now.

“An important part of any writer’s work is getting a sense of how it rings true with other people,” Epp explained. “Does it enable people to think some more, reflect for themselves? Does it prompt the kinds of conversations with people that actually help you think more about things? I love having those conversations, and I love to talk with people about the work.”

Epp will have the opportunity to discuss the essays with an audience on Oct. 23 at the Lyric Theatre.

Doors open at 1 p.m., with musical entertainment by Rri Olson beginning at 1:30 p.m. Admission for the event is $5.

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