Pan Lit Games: Pentathlon

July 14, 2015

We don’t know about you, but the modern pentathlon seems exhausting. Like, makes us want to sit down and take a nap just thinking about it. What is the pentathlon, you ask? We had to do some research as well. The modern pentathlon is actually meant to stimulate the diverse skills a 19th century cavalry officer would require, including fencing, swimming, equestrian, running, and shooting. And all these events take place in one day (like we said, exhausting). It may not take us a full day to read the titles of today’s contenders but their titles are a mouthful, giving readers a pretty clear idea of the diverse range of topics to be found within their covers.

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PLG_Pentathlon_Header

 

We don’t know about you, but the modern pentathlon seems exhausting. Like, makes us want to sit down and take a nap just thinking about it. What is the pentathlon, you ask? We had to do some research as well. The modern pentathlon is actually meant to stimulate the diverse skills a 19th century cavalry officer would require, including fencing, swimming, equestrian, running, and shooting. And all these events take place in one day (like we said, exhausting). It may not take us a full day to read the titles of today’s contenders but their titles are a mouthful, giving readers a pretty clear idea of the diverse range of topics to be found within their covers.

Let’s meet the contenders:

PLG_Pentathlon

Mother Died Last Summer: Journal of a month-long motor tour through Great Britain (with a side trip to France) with my father in June of 1992 by David W. McFadden (Mansfield Press)

Part memoir, travelogue, and journal of a creative mind, Mother Died Last Summer provides an unusual and intimate portrait of the UK.

Don't Let it End Like This Tell Them I Said Something by Paul Vermeersch (ECW Press)

The title to Vermeersch’s fifth collection of poetry does indeed give the reader a hint to the topic: lyrical meditation on written language and the end of the world. And keeping with the pentathlon theme of diverse skills, Vermeersch stretches his poetry chops with centos, glosas, erasures, text collages, and more to image post-apocalyptic literature.

Toward. Some. Air. : Remarks on Poetics of Mad Affect, Militancy, Feminism, Demotic Rhythms, Emptying, Intervention, Reluctance, Indigeneity, Immediacy, Lyric Conceptualism, Commons, Pastoral Margins, Desire, Ambivalence, Disability, The Digital, and Other Practices, edited by Fred Wah & Amy De’ath (Banff Centre Press)

Like the subtitle suggests, this is a collection of essays on poetics in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Covering the state of poetry through such diverse tactics as conversations, statements, essays, profiles, and poems, Toward. Some. Air. interprets the contemporary poetry landscape.

Army of Lovers: A Community History of Will Munro, the Artist, Activist, Impresario and Civic Hero Who Brought Together Toronto’s Club Kids, Art Fags, Hardcore Boys, Drag Queens, Rock ’n’ Roll Queers, Needlework Obsessives, Limpwristed Nellies, Stone Butches, New Wave Freaks, Unabashed Perverts, Proud Prudes and Beautiful Dreamers by Sarah Liss (Coach House Books)

Part biography of Will Munro, queer civic hero, and a history of a Toronto during a period when its various subcultures—the queer community, arts scene, indie music crowd, and grassroots activist contingent—collided.

How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun? by Doretta Lau (Nightwood Editions)

These stories by Lau tackle big questions through personal and intimate stories of new Canadians struggling to find a place in the Western world.

So how’d they do?

How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun? wielded its epee with technical precision. Don't Let it End Like This Tell Them I Said Something had a brilliant performance in the jumping competition. Mother Died Last Summer: Journal of a month-long motor tour through Great Britain (with a side trip to France) with my father in June of 1992 had a strong finish in the freestyle swimming portion of the competition. However, when the points were tallied, it just wasn’t enough to get them in the top two spots as we head in to our final challenge.

Toward. Some. Air. : Remarks on Poetics of Mad Affect, Militancy, Feminism, Demotic Rhythms, Emptying, Intervention, Reluctance, Indigeneity, Immediacy, Lyric Conceptualism, Commons, Pastoral Margins, Desire, Ambivalence, Disability, The Digital, and Other Practices is quick, excelling in the 1000m dashes but it is Army of Lovers: A Community History of Will Munro, the Artist, Activist, Impresario and Civic Hero Who Brought Together Toronto’s Club Kids, Art Fags, Hardcore Boys, Drag Queens, Rock ’n’ Roll Queers, Needlework Obsessives, Limpwristed Nellies, Stone Butches, New Wave Freaks, Unabashed Perverts, Proud Prudes and Beautiful Dreamers, with the technical skill displayed with the laser pistols (yes, apparently they actually use laser pistols!!!), that showed the most diverse athletic prowess and came away the pentathlon winner of "most words in a title". With a subtitle like that the winner is pretty clear, right?

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Follow along with all of our Pan Lit Games fun by checking in with our leader board. If you're in Toronto, you can hear the poet behind one of today's competitors, Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something's Paul Vermeersch, read at the Poetry at Pan Am event tomorrow night.


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