The Elora Poetry Archives website is a collaborative project related to the courses EASIA 391R and ENGL 248 at Renison University College, University of Waterloo, Ontario.
EASIA 391 R, titled “The Beats, Buddhism, and Japanese Culture,” examines the cultural cross-fertilization that occurred when several adventurous twentieth century American poets—notably Gary Snyder, Joanne Kyger, Philip Whalen, Allen Ginsberg, and Cid Corman—arrived in Japan during the 1950s and 1960s. While Buddhism and Japanese culture profoundly affected these writers, they in turn influenced their Japanese literary counterparts, the Buzoku, notably Sakaki Nanao, Nagasawa Tetsuo, and Sansei Yamao. Often grouped together as members of the “Beat Generation,” these Western poets were in fact highly individualistic visionaries, exercising considerable influence on the 1960s Counterculture, the modern environmental movement, and the “new American poetry.” Drawing on audio-visual material and selected texts, the course serves as a reminder of the debt contemporary global culture owes to these poets’ quest for freedom, spirituality, and selfhood.
ENGL 248, titled “Literature for an Ailing Planet,” surveys environmental thought in works of literature and popular culture. Again, special attention is paid to the Beats and Buzoku, in this case their influence on the modern global environmental movement. However, students will be writing blogs on topics as diverse as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, David Orr’s “”What Is Education For?”, Mary Oliver’s poetry, Annie Dillard’s prose, and R. Murray Schafer’s acoustic ecology studies (with an on-campus performance of “Confluence of Words and Music,” performed by Rae Crossman and Tilly Kooyman).
The Elora Poetry Archives are housed at The Elora Poetry Centre, outside the village of Elora, in Centre Wellington Township, north of Waterloo. Beaver House, an 1832 log house that originally stood south of Aberfoyle, has been restored on the property as a historic venue for literary and musical performances, as well as art exhibitions, in conjunction with events held in the original 1860 stone farmhouse. EASIA 391R and ENGL 248 draw on this archival collection, most of which has come from Japan, as a learning resource that includes digitally preserved recordings, videos, photographs, and manuscripts, as well as works of art. Additionally, you will discover relevant links.