‘The Gift of Never Landing’: A Conversation with Poet Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek
February 9, 2021 | 9:00 am pdt
The confluence of voices, languages, and poetic traditions in Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek’s poetry reflects her sense of belonging and migration across many places. In this wide-ranging conversation, Acholi Canadian poet Okot Bitek will talk about her writing process as a poet, her experiences with publishing in Canada, her collaborative projects with poets and visual artists, and her practice of listening across histories, identities, continents.
Her book 100 Days (University of Alberta 2016) was nominated for several writing prizes and won the 2017 IndieFab Book of the Year Award for poetry and the 2017 Glenna Lushei Prize for African Poetry. It began as a process of writing and posting one poem a day on social media, in collaboration with Kenyan American photographer Wangechi Mutu.
We will learn about Otoniya’s experience being a poet, finding her voice, writing and publishing on social platforms, navigating the publishing process, and working in collaboration with other Black and Indigenous artists on on the unceded, ancestral, and traditional lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people in what we currently call Vancouver.
Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek is a poet. Her 100 Days (University of Alberta 2016) was nominated for several writing prizes including the 2017 BC Book Prize, the Pat Lowther Award, the 2017 Alberta Book Awards and the 2017 Canadian Authors Award for Poetry. It won the 2017 IndieFab Book of the Year Award for poetry and the 2017 Glenna Lushei Prize for African Poetry. Otoniya is also the author of Sublime: Lost Words (The Elephants 2018) and Gauntlet (Nomados 2019). She is the 2020 Ellen and Warren Tallman Writer-in-Residence at Simon Fraser University and a 2021 Jack and Doris Shadbolt Fellow, also at Simon Fraser University. Otoniya lives with gratitude on the unceded, ancestral and traditional lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people in what we currently call Vancouver.
Sophie McCall is a Professor in the English department at Simon Fraser University. Her main areas of research and teaching are Indigenous literary studies in Canada from the 20th and 21st centuries. She has published widely on topics such as textualizing oral history, the struggle for Indigenous rights, decolonization, resurgence, and reconciliation. Register here.