Feedback and Interviews (Oral History of SGW Poetry Series)

Posted by Jason Camlot | 2 comments

This post is ultimately about questionnaires.  We need to develop two kinds.  One for feedback from researchers and one for historical contextualization.

1. I have begun to send the link and password to the SpokenWeb site to several literature scholars, so we can begin to collect feedback on the site as it stands, and as it continues to develop.  So far I have provided access to the following scholars:

Lianne Moyes (U de M)

Judith Herz (Concordia)

Karis Shearer (Concordia)

Nick Mount (U of Toronto)

Alessandro Porco (SUNY, Buffalo)

Catherine Leclerc (McGill)

Gillian Lane-Mercier (McGill)

Martine Emmenuelle Lapointe (U de M)

Julie Fredette (U Sherbrooke)

Gregory Reid (U Sherbrooke)

Jane Moss (Colby College)

Nick’s initial response to the site:

This is an amazing resource, Jason. I’ll play around with it more, but for now about the only thought I have is that I would have liked even a brief paragraph on the home page on the history of the SGW series. Perhaps that’s still to come.

If you know the room or even building locations of the individual readings, it would be great to provide them at the top of the transcript bottom, maybe even a photo of the room then or now. I’d like to be able to imagine them reading in a place, instead of from the digital clouds.

Interesting that Nick’s first thought was to try to spatially locate the voices he hears.  I think it’s a good idea.  While we don’t have information on the venues of all readings, we can certainly work on getting as much of that info as possible, and especially on getting some archival (or contemporary) images of the rooms used for the readings.

I would like to develop a common “feedback” questionnaire to send to all of the scholars and teachers we invite to visit and use the archive.  What questions (maybe 5 max) would we want on such a questionnaire.  Things like:

What features are missing from the interface as it presently exists that you would like to see added.  Why?

Please submit your ideas for feedback questions to Deanna, and we’ll hammer that out at our next meeting.

2.  I was talking to John McAuley yesterday.  He is the first poet to have received an MA degree in Creative Writing from Sir George Williams University (just before it became Concordia), and he was a student when the series was taking place.  I’ve invited him to look at the web site, with the goal of getting a different kind of feedback from him than I’d like from the literature scholars.  I asked him to look and listen around in preparation for an interview about his memories of the reading series and any particular events he attended.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I think a valuable addition to the archive will be taped interviews with series organizers and attendees.  I’d like to develop a questionnaire template for these interviews.  While I believe it will be fine if each interview is distinct, in certain ways; I think it will be useful to make sure we ask a set of the same questions all interviewees, so we can build a structure of parallel narrative accounts of the series.  I’m thinking of an oral history like Please Kill Me (interviews around specific events that tell the story of early Punk in the US) as an example of parallel narrative accounts.  It might be interesting to do these interviews in video and I could check with Elena about using the digital/oral history lab facilities for this purpose.

Some of the people I’d like to have interviewed (and I’m thinking that Deanna and Celyn [when she’s back] can conduct the interviews, include:

Students during the period [we can add to this list]:

John McAuley

Simon Dardick

Endre Farkas

Michael Harris

Former SGW Faculty during the period:

Richard Sommer

George Bowering

Margaret Atwood

Howard Fink

David Sheps

Henry Beissel

Michael Gnarowski

Lewis Poteet [not sure if still alive]

Edward Pechter

Frank Davey (visiting writer in residence)

and others…

Local writers during the period:

Peter Van Toorn

What 5-10 questions should be common to all interviews?  Another agenda item for our next team meeting.

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  1. celyn says:

    Stephen Morrissey also attended a few of the readings, and his boxes at McGill actually have a few pamphlets from the event. He would be a great person to interview.

  2. annie says:

    It would be interesting to know, in general, what memories people have of the series. Also, do they have any ephemera from the series that we could scan and post to the site? Flyers, photos?

    For users of the site, I would be interested to know if they found any aspect of navigating the site to be awkward or counter-intuitive. Were they interested in search functionality? Did they mostly browse? Was it easy to understand the basic site layout? And: did they look at the waveform when they listened? Did they follow along with the text of the transcript?

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