On this April afternoon, snow was falling gently but steadily outside the Glencoe Club windows. Inside was nothing but cheer, as we still don’t take for granted the pleasure of meeting in person! Spring bouquets graced our tables. Our special guests were Calgary Public Library friends Sarah Meilleur (CEO) and Brin Bugo (Manager, Memorial Park Branch,) along with award-winning Calgary writer Sharon Butala. Cecilia read the 1927 poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann. Without knowing our guest speaker’s theme today, it was to be a perfect example of writing that remains relevant through time. Our buffet lunch was as delectable as it was a feast for the eyes!
Sharon Butala, a prolific author of fiction, essays, articles, poetry, and plays, has just published This Strange Visible Air: Essays on Aging and the Writing Life. Sharon began her talk by describing a time years ago when a press agent rejected her book for publication because it was “old-fashioned.” Feeling dismissed, then angry, this spurred her to publish an article in The Walrus, and since then she actively writes and speaks against “ageism.” She gave an overview of how writing styles have evolved from the 18th Century to contemporary authors. She concluded that she needn’t be apologetic for choosing to write in a style she prefers to call “traditional” rather than “old fashioned” (a term which has more to do with outdated words and syntax.) Personally, she is not fond of some current trends in writing and believes “traditional” humanistic stories will still be read with great pleasure by a multitude of readers today and in the future.
The Annual General Meeting was a celebration and a tribute. We surmounted the challenge of Covid this year by pivoting from in-person, to online, to in-person meetings. Our presenters introduced us to fascinating 21st Century authors, with lively discussions ensuing. Our Principles and Guidelines document was updated. Our website drew in 30% more visitors, resulting in some new members. This year, we began using online storage for Minutes and other important documents. Our Archivist ensures we continue to learn more about – and add to – our “story” in the Glenbow Archives. In short, the Club remains current, while honoring its past and traditions. We closed with our thanks to Helen who is leaving our executive team, to Natashia who is taking over as Program Chair, to all those who served last year, and to those who will serve on the new executive team. Our 2023-24 program will be “Authors who have never been presented to the Club, focusing on Canadian women writers.”