Western Front launches digitized Literary Collection

Western Front has announced the launch of a newly digitized Literary Collection—the culmination of a year-long project.

The launch event on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 7 pm marks the public release of an online showcase featuring more than 50 works from the archive. Amy De’Ath, a poet and PhD student at SFU, will contextualize this look back on the influence of the Literary scene at the Western Front.

The Western Front’s Literary Collection Archive documents a successful series of literary events called Monday Night Readings. It began in January 1974 and curators included Gerry Gilbert, Mary Beth Knechtel, and Charles Watts and the Western Front archives from the period include Gladys Hindmarch, Carole Itter, Roy Kiyooka, Daphne Marlatt, Jamie Reid, Fred Wah, the Four Horsemen and many others.

In addition to a ‘reading from the archive’ selected by De’Ath, the event will feature a guest reading by poet Dorothy Trujillo Lusk and archival appearances by: Kathy Acker, bill bissett, Gerald Creed, Peter Culley, Jeff Derksen, Deanna Ferguson, Maxine Gadd, Gladys Hindmarch, Roy Kiyooka, Monica Holden Lawrence, Steve MacCaffery, Susan Musgrave, bpNichol, Jamie Reid, Lisa Robertson, Nancy Shaw, Sharon Thesen, Fred Wah, Anne Waldman and Tom Wayman.

This launch also marks a couple interesting milestones:

First of all, the launch is part of the inaugural Vancouver Independent Archives Week. An initiative of grunt gallery, VIVO Media Arts Centre, and Western Front (with support from the Vancouver Foundation) the event aims to build direct community awareness and interaction with artist-run centre (ARC) archives in the Vancouver. The inaugural week-long event runs from November 22–28, 2015, and a full list of events can be found at archivesweek.ca.

Secondly, the Literary Collection Archive is the pilot project for Western Front’s in-house video digitization program. The current media archive is at risk due to obsolete formats and deteriorating tape stocks. But preservation, digitization, and storage cost money. To help preserve their huge archive, they have been raising funds through the Minute By Minute campaign. Supporters can donate dollar amounts—for example, $25 supports 5 minutes of footage—which directly help the works to be restored, digitized, and made publicly available.