Brad Cran, Vancouver Poet Laureate, did a very admirable thing yesterday, speaking out against VANOC censorship and speaking up for the arts. Given that the Laureateship (?) is a joint project of the City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Public Library (who have shown quite clearly how they, custodians of knowledge, deal with VANOC censorship), and the Writers Festival, I was surprised and pleased to see him get a little dissident.

From his blog post:

“The artist shall at all times refrain from making any negative or derogatory remarks respecting VANOC, the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Olympic movement generally, Bell and/or other sponsors associated with VANOC.”

I do find this to be an unjust attack on free speech but more importantly it shows that VANOC is misrepresenting Vancouver. Vancouver is the most politically progressive city in North America with a strong history of political activism which most Vancouverites are proud of. Rather than finding a way to celebrate these important attributes VANOC has gone the other way and tried to suppress them. As George Woodcock teaches us: our freedom as a city is a tradition that should be protected and we should not underestimate an attack on that freedom whether symbolic or otherwise.

and why he will not be participating:

As darkly comic as much of this is, I am still not anti-Olympics. For this reason I made two suggestions to an Olympic organizer. The first was that a Canadian poet read one poem each night on one of the celebration stages. The second suggestion was that they somehow incorporate Al Purdy’s great Canadian poem “Say the Names” into the celebrations. Both of these suggestions were rejected and I in turn declined their offer to publically appear during the Olympic celebrations.

Go Brad Cran!
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Sachiko Murakami wrote The Invisibility Exhibit. She lives in Toronto, far from Sumi, Miga AND Quatchi.