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Lytton Smith & Stephen Collis: Climate Change Reading & Conversation

May 17, 2021 @ EST 7:30 pm - 8:10 pm


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On Time and Water, by Andri Snaer Magnason, translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith


A few years ago, Andri Snaer Magnason, one of Iceland’s most beloved writers and public intellectuals, was asked by a leading climate scientist why he wasn’t writing about the greatest crisis mankind has faced. Magnason demurred: he wasn’t a specialist, he said; it wasn’t his field. But the scientist persisted: “If you cannot understand our scientific findings and present them in an emotional, psychological, poetic or mythological context, then no one will really understand the issue, and the world will end.”


Based on interviews and advice from leading scientists and interwoven with personal, historical, and mythological stories, Magnason’s On Time and Water is a response to this imperative. A rich, compelling work of narrative nonfiction illustrating the reality of climate change and offering hope in the face of an uncertain future, the books moves from reflections on how one writes an obituary for an iceberg to an exhortation for a heightened understanding of human time and our obligations to one another, throughout history and across the globe. On Time and Water is both deeply personal and globally-minded: a travel story, a world history, and a desperate plea to live in harmony with future generations. 


Lytton Smith‘s most recent translation from Icelandic, Andri Snær Magnason’s On Time and Water, was published in the U.K. in 2020 and U.S./Canada in 2021. His translations have twice been finalists for the Best Translated Book Award in the United States (2018, 2019). A 2019 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship recipient, he lives in western upstate New York where he teaches at SUNY Geneseo and directs the Center for Integrative Learning.


Check out On Time and Water at Ampersand Books.



A History of the Theories of Rain, by Stephen Collis


“Can you walk away from a climate?” Maybe. But “in the future / everyone will have their fifteen minutes of blame.” A History of the Theories of Rain explores the strange effect our current sense of impending doom has on our relation to time, approaching the unfolding climate catastrophe conceptually through its dissolution of the categories of “man-made” and “natural” disasters. How do we go on with our daily lives while a disastrous future impinges upon every moment?

Collis’ book probes our current state of anxiety with care, humour, and an unflinching gaze into the darkness we have gathered around ourselves. All the while – in song, in lyrical outbursts, and in philosophical and speculative excursions – it asks what form a resistance to the tenor of these out-of-joint times might take. A History of the Theories of Rain explores the links between the climate’s tipping points” and the borders that constrain those who are fleeing the disaster – including plants, animals, and peoples forcibly displaced by a radically altered world ecology.


Stephen Collis is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Commons (Talonbooks 2008), the BC Book Prize-winning On the Material, Once in Blockadia, and Almost Islands: Phyllis Webb and the Pursuit of the Unwritten. In 2019 he was awarded the Latner Writers’ Trust of Canada Poetry Prize in recognition of his body of work. In 2021, Talonbooks published his latest poetry collection, A History of the Theories of Rain. He lives near Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish Territory, and teaches poetry and poetics at Simon Fraser University.


Check out A History of the Theories of Rain at Ampersand Books.


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May 17, 2021
7:30 pm - 8:10 pm


Lytton Smith
Private: Stephen Collis


Writers & Books
740 University Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607 United States
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(585) 473-2590
If you would like to make a request for any accommodation, please email us at accommodation@wab.org at least 10 days prior to the event or workshop.

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