With absolutely no time or the wherewithal to write I’m going back in time today, to 2012 when I was awarded a Pandora’s Collective Literary Award presented by the inimitable Sean Cranbury, a precious memory indeed.
“As the recipient of the same award in 2011, I presented the 2012 Pandora’s Collective Literary Organizer/Promoter Award Presenting Speech to Heather Haley.
Heather Haley is old school in the very finest sense. She embraces a vigorous DIY spirit in all the work that she does. Whether that’s recording music and touring the coast in seminal Vancouver punk bands like the .45’s and Heather Haley and the Zellots, through publishing her poetry with independent presses like Anvil Press and Ekstasis Editions, creating indie music videos, or organizing literary and cinematic events that even after twenty years still seem to be ahead of their/our time.
Heather embraces multimedia and technology as valuable vehicles for ideas, energy, poetry and beauty. And it’s not a selfish pursuit, it’s the work and vision of someone who cares deeply about her community and wants to experience and support the creative work of others.
Heather doesn’t wait for permission to create the space necessary for artists and writers to work but simply does it because – I believe – that her instincts compel her to act. Because it would be impossible for her not to act, not to bring her vision into reality.
She is an innovative cultural programmer with a strongly held conviction that artists, especially poets, should be represented on the World Wide Web. Heather founded The Edgewise Café in 1994, one of Canada’s first electronic literary magazines, along with the non-profit arts organization, the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre. The EEC facilitated the Vancouver Videopoem Festival and Telepoetics, a videoconferenced reading series founded by Merilene Murphy. The Edgewise ElectroLit Centre’s populist mandate and innovative programs effectively made poetry accessible to all and assisted Canadian artists in expanding both their audience and potential. Since 2004, Haley has been the host and curator of the Visible Verse Festival, North America’s sustaining venue for the presentation of new and artistically significant poetry film and video.
As a literary event programmer myself I look at Heather’s track record with no small amount of wonder. Her work confirms for me something that I think about all the time – that if we want to build great things like literary culture or communities, then we need to get off our asses and respond to the creative instincts that tell us: “DO THE WORK. JUST FRICKING DO IT.”
The DIY spirit that I admire in Heather is based on ACTION, on DOING THE WORK.
(We are among that spirit here tonight.) Creating a better world to live in by helping artists and writers to share their work locally and around the world.
It is my honour to present the 2012 Pandora’s Collective Literary Organizer/Promoter Award to Heather Haley.”