Writing the City: The First Post

by Shaun Hunter

Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers

Calgary's Eighth Avenue, 1912 (postcard)

Calgary's Eighth Avenue, 1912 (postcard)

I have lived in Calgary most of my life, but I have rarely seen the city imagined on the page. For a long time, I thought it was the city’s fault. The soil seemed too thin for the literary imagination, too far away from the country’s literary centre.

In 1983, the Alberta author Jon Whyte argued that writers had failed to evoke Calgary’s specialness in their fiction or poetry.

This winter, I set out to see if his assessment still holds true.

I thought my search would be brief, that at best, I might find a novel or two, a handful of poems, a few essays and plays. But months later, I am still at it. Books crowd my desk. A reading list has blossomed as sudden and urgent as a Calgary spring. The city, it turns out, has a literary landscape: all I had to do was go looking.

In the weeks to come, I will be posting glimpses of the city as writers have imagined it. You will find excerpts, a little context and links so you can track down the featured work. If you have a favourite Calgary story you think I should check out, please let me know.

Stampede is around the corner, so that’s where we begin. New posts will appear on Fridays. I hope you’ll drop by often.

Welcome to Writing the City: Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers.