Contemporary and Contemporary Voices

The field of contemporary literature in New Brunswick is varied and dynamic. No one writer dominates, nor does one school or region of the province stand out. The most telling feature of contemporary writing is the fact that most of the writers in this module were born but no longer live in New Brunswick. The only time that happened with the same frequency was in the era of the Confederation poets – and then, like now, economic outmigration was at the root of absence. Elisabeth Harvor lives in Ottawa, Brian Bartlett in Halifax, Alan Wilson in Victoria, Richard Vaughan in Toronto, and Tammy Armstrong in southwest Nova Scotia. It is not surprising, then, that feelings of waywardness and deracination are evident in our contemporary literature.

Those feelings are not tied to postmodern moods of angst or listlessness, but to a sense of ambivalence about New Brunswick. Whether writers feel they have been riven from place by economic circumstance or choose to distance themselves from what they feel are outmoded notions of place-based sympathy and fidelity, the result is the same: writers have been orphaned, and like all orphans have an uneasy relationship with parentage.

 

What readers should look for in this module is the extent to which those feelings of ambivalence about New Brunswick are changing the narrative of the province. Is New Brunswick sustainable as an imagined space when so many of its finest writers are outside its borders? And if it is, how is its identity changing as it is increasingly viewed at a distance, as both memory and regret? Is it being turned to folklore or is it being further modernized by outside perspectives, perspectives that, perhaps, represent the new norm in the 21st century?

 

For the Full Module Page on Current and Contemporary Voices, click here.