Pan Lit Games: Discus Throw

July 7, 2015

Discus was played at the earliest Olympic Games in Ancient Greece. We’re no sports experts, but it’s basically a heavy frisbee thrown vertically that no one catches (aka ancient frolf). Likewise, the art of debate, Socratic or otherwise, has been around for millenia. But un-likewise, you’d definitely want to catch these “discus”sion-prompting book athletes, ones that are guaranteed to make you think for at least a thousand more years.

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Discus was played at the earliest Olympic Games in Ancient Greece. We’re no sports experts, but it’s basically a heavy frisbee thrown vertically that no one catches (aka ancient frolf). Likewise, the art of debate, Socratic or otherwise, has been around for millenia. But un-likewise, you’d definitely want to catch these “discus”sion-prompting book athletes, ones that are guaranteed to make you think for at least a thousand more years.

healthcarepolitics

A strong contender with a firm toss straight out the gate, David Levine’s Health Care and Politics (Véhicule Press) is a sure shot in understanding the current healthcare climate in Canada. Author Levine has four decades of experience in hospital administration, and his experience shows on the field (discus pitch? discu-thèque?). Health Care sees through the complex network of health administration and policy, and its throw aims true at more effective healthcare in the country while respecting the tradition of free medical attention that has become a cornerstone of the Canadian experience.

Decidedly unorthodox in both its discus and writing technique, Calvin White’s The Bodies (Now or Never Publishing) employs poetojournalism – a mingling of text, poetic construction and photography – to comment on the lives we lead as humans and the sometimes sordid paths that we take as a result. You might call White’s approach a hard, clay frisbee to the gut that forces us to examine our deeper selves, but that could be extending the metaphor a little too much, right? 

No time to think about that now…the legion of talented Atlantic Canadian contributors from Goose Lane Editions’ Running the Whale’s Back have arrived onto the field, throwing their discuses/discusi in a flurry of styles, all attempting to qualify their own relationship with faith. Miracles, mysticism, and piety are all explored by some of the East Coast’s finest writers: Kathleen Winter, Michael Crummey, Lynn Coady, Ann-Marie MacDonald, and David Adams Richards, to name only a few. The result is an intimate look that continues to spin your own ruminations on faith long after the toss – and book – is finished.

landweare

Running the Whale’s Back is not the only multi-authored competitor in this year’s Pan Lit discus bout: The Land We Are (ARP Books), edited by Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill and Sophie McCall, is a fierce call to seize this era of Canadian/Indigenous reconciliation and turn it towards a more just future. A collaboration between artists and scholars, The Land We Are does not take reconciliation for granted; highlighting where it’s flawed in a myriad of techniques – including MS Word track change bubbles – resulting in a throw that’s powerful and beautiful all at once.

Newest to the sport is A.J. Somerset’s Arms (Biblioasis), which won’t be releasing its toss until August 2015. Nevertheless, Arms has proven itself one to watch on the pitch: discussing modern gun culture in all of its permutations, and how it manifests in the American landscape. Author Somerset is a sports shooter and one-time reservist, bringing a nuanced perspective from someone behind the crosshairs. 

While all the competitors have certainly thrown with startling conviction, it’s The Land We Are that ekes into first place with its multitude of storytelling and its crucial purpose in directing the reconciliation conversation in Canada.

Be sure to check back all month long for more nail-biting Pan Lit events. And if you’d like to dispute the judges’ call, you can always do so in the comments below.


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