Friday, September 28, 2012

Let's take the 'sub' out of suburban

My city, Surrey, BC, seems to be growing up. Frankly, it used to be considered almost the sub-basement of sub-urbia.

Lately, there've been more and more signs of its rising status. For one thing, it has an absolutely world class art gallery. Every month seems to see more and more cultural events taking place, especially my favourites, literary ones (see readings, to the right).

But the event that makes me proudest is the symposium that took place yesterday at the Surrey campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

"Under-City: Writing the Suburban World" was an all-day symposium sponsored by the university's Creative Writing Department.

The day opened with a brief keynote by Diane Purvey, Dean of Arts. She said that she was "...excited by the energy this day represents." And she wasn't wrong.

The panels consisted of writers, publishers, art historians and my favourite "public intellectual", Michael Turner. Panelists in the photo are moderator Kevin Chong, poet Judy McInnes, writer (and Creative Writing Head at UFV) Andrea McPherson and Surrey writer Phinder Dulai.

The topics were engaging and thought-provoking. Best of all were the day's opportunities for networking and general exchange of ideas.

The only part I'm no longer sure of is the 'sub' prefix in suburbia. Somehow, its meaning (under) doesn't seem to fit, as these days Surrey seems to have come out into the light.

Because art -- in particular, the literary arts -- and along with it, a community of artists seems to be alive and well in Surrey. At last.

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