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Di Brandt Tribute

hi Cathie, Doug Barbour, et al,

thanks much for the invitation.  i can’t be there in person, but i send greetings, condolences and congratulations.

Robert Kroetsch was one of the most influential teachers and mentors i ever had.  he had figured out how seriously and playfully to straddle the creative writing and academic worlds (which seem more entwined now, but were completely separate and often oppositional until very recently), and how to reach all the way across from a very traditional world view and immigrant pioneer farming life to the urban cosmopolitan postmodern.

these were enormous assets in the new and burgeoning literary community of Manitoba in the 70s and 80s, where his adventurous–minded, inspiring presence loomed benignly over us, encouraging us to take our place in the world as thinkers and creators, despite our newness to the scenes of travel and publication. there isn’t a living writer in Manitoba today who wasn’t hugely gifted by that.

for me personally, understanding the long path he had come, and the wide shine of his vision, was crucial to figuring out how to make the far leap into a writing life.

even tho he had a very ambivalent relationship with women, both fictionally and in real life – something he famously characterized as “fear of women” in an influential essay, but that some of us found both more flattering and more treacherous than that – nevertheless Kroetsch contributed hugely and often contrarily, in his yes/no/maybe trickster ways, to the emergence of a women’s and feminist writing scene on the prairies.

he is much missed by everyone here in Manitoba, as elsewhere, but of course he is still with us, shining among us, the star he was and the star he is, always.

(and of course it is a testament to his generosity and greatness that we consider him deeply primarily “ours” here in Manitoba – though we are willing to share him and his legacy with Alberta, his first and last home, and Saskatchewan, which he traversed between us with such lasting influence throughout his long and beautiful life.

Di Brandt, Brandon University
February 17, 2012