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George Story Lecture and AGM – On Gerry Squires

Stan Dragland


Stan Dragland is originally from Alberta and now lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He is Professor Emeritus, Department of English, Western University. He has taught creative writing at the Banff Centre and at Los Parronales, Chile. He was founder of Brick magazine and Brick Books, and is still active with the latter. Between 1994 and 1997, he was poetry editor for McClelland & Stewart. Peckertracks (1979) was shortlisted for the Books in Canada First Novel Award; Floating Voice: Duncan Campbell Scott and the Literature of Treaty 9 (1994) won the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Canadian literary criticism: 12 Bars (2002) was co-winner of the bp Nichol Chapbook Award; Apocrypha: Further Journeys (2003) won the Newfoundland and Labrador Rogers Cable Award for non-fiction; Stormy Weather: Foursomes (2005) was shortlisted for the E.J. Pratt Poetry Award. SD has also published Journeys Through Bookland and other Passages (1984) and The Bees of the Invisible: Essays in Contemporary English Canadian Writing (1991). 2008 saw the publication of The Drowned Lands, a novel. Deep Too, a prose oddity, appeared in 2013. The Bricoleur and His Sentences was published in 2014, Strangers & Others: Newfoundland Essays (shortlisted for the BMO Winterset Award) in 2015, Strangers & Others 2: The Great Eastern in 2016.


I was invited to discuss my research for the long essay in Gerald Squires, the book timed to appear alongside Squires’ 2017 retrospective, and my lecture makes that subject its armature. It goes into the many sources now available — not only the pictures and sculptures, the criticism and interviews, but also the wealth of archival material preserved by Gail Squires and held in Holyrood. Especially important are Squires’ own eloquent writings, many of them never published, some of them chosen to grace the lecture. I explore the painter’s passionate grasp of archetypal impulses — heaven and hell contending in his personal cosmology — and try to suggest how such tensions are embodied in his pictures. An important sub-theme is Squires’ deep-seated ecological consciousness, more relevant and valuable than ever in the context of accelerating threats to the biosphere. Lecture and illustrations will present a Squires well-known and well-loved, but also with dimensions that are not common knowledge. The viewer/listener may also expect to see and hear about some surprising images that came to light only when access to the Squires archive became available after his death.

Listen to Stan Dragland’s lecture: