The Stanza Project

 

Stanza : – In poetry; a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. A stanza consists of a grouping of lines, set off by a space, that usually has a set pattern of meter and rhyme. – in Italian; chamber, apartment, room

 

What? The Stanza Project is one-year collaborative project between Thursdays Writing Collective and MLPPROOSTEN|ARCHITECTURE|Theory|Practice for Downtown Eastside Vancouver writers about literary and virtual space. All were welcome to drop in and participate in writing about notions of shelter, accessibility, housing, home, indoor/outdoor, public/private during our regular Thursdays Writing Collective sessions and our special events. We published an artefact of out investigation, perfect-bound book, The Stanza Project (Otter Press, 2013) that is for sale at Paperhound, People’s Coop, Pulp Fiction Books, and through members of Thursdays Writing Collective.

 

The Stanza Project book

 

Why? A major concern in the DTES is housing. We are living on unceded Coast Salish land in a neighbourhood experiencing tremendous pressure from developers while safe and affordable housing for residents is scarce. Our lives are shaped by the city. At the same time we shape the city through our use and movement. The connections between architecture and writing go beyond a shared idea of the “poetics of space” to ideas of “reading” a city and finding a home in the text.

 

How? We used architectural designs, blueprints, images and models of structures from architect Mark Proosten, an architect and writer who is passionate about literature and community. Using Mark’s drawings as prompts and our own writing we built a literary environment of our own design. In our writing sessions we  experimented with “wordsquatting,” a way of moving into other people’s writing by borrowing sentence structure, inserting our words, erasing some of theirs, using a line or section of someone’s work, etc. We  read poems, fiction, memoir and literally wrote on – and into – Mark’s architectural images and plans. Then we sent our writing and “invaded” architectural drawings back to Mark so he could use them to invent new buildings and architectural drawings and texts. The cycle continued back and forth.

The Stanza Project also included:

  • Weekly writing sessions (Thursdays, Carnegie Community Centre, 2-4pm)
  • Participation in the Heart of the City Festival in November 2012 with “Building”, held at Dunlevy Snack Bar, a social writing evening during which we used 3D materials to create structures. We also wrote about a house made of food by chef Theo Lloyd Kohls – and then ate it.
  • A three-month exhibit at the UBC Liu Centre for Social Justice Lobby Gallery featuring our writing, photos and videos and two live writing events (November 7, 2012 and December 2012)
  • Launch of The Stanza Project book  in June 2013 with a reading.
  • Mark Proosten, the collaborating architect, is presenting a paper on the project in a conference in fall 2013.
  • Presentation in a plenary session at the 23rd International Virginia Woolf Conference in June 2013
  • A reading at the 2013 Heart of the City Festival in October at the Brickhouse in Vancouver

 

More info on Facebook’s The Stanza Project or  http://mlpproosten.net/

 

Thank you to Canada Council for the Arts, Carnegie Community Centre, Liu Institute, Heart of the City Festival and Dunlevy Snackbar for support!

 

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