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Pratt Lecture to explore poetry and politics in the 1940s

By Janet Harron | Jan. 28, 2013

Respected author, historian and professor emeritus from the Department of English Language and Literature, and member of the Order of Canada, Dr. Patrick O’Flaherty, will deliver Memorial’s 44th  annual Pratt Lecture on Friday, Feb. 8.

His lecture is titled Newfoundland Poetry and Politics in the 1940s.

Dr. O’Flaherty will explore the connection between politics and poetry in the 1940s, especially in the critical years 1946-48, during which Newfoundlanders considered whether or not to remain an independent country and decided not to.

“English, Scottish and sometimes Irish and American poems were cited for a variety of political purposes, as was local poetry,” explained Dr. O’Flaherty. “People used verse; it was important to them.”

The Pratt Lecture was established to honour the life and accomplishments of the poet E. J. Pratt and is meant to comment on an aspect of modern poetry. 

Dr. Mark Cumming, chair of the Pratt committee, considers the choice of Dr. O’Flaherty as particularly fitting.

“This year's lecture will be delivered by a scholar who, in his benchmark study of Newfoundland literature, The Rock Observed (1979), wrote so trenchantly about Pratt and his relationship with Newfoundland life and culture,” said Dr. Cumming. “Patrick O’Flaherty is a scholar, creative writer and historian, whose literary criticism, fiction and historical writings comprise a sustained and evolving meditation on the life and culture of Newfoundland."

The lecture begins at 8 p.m. in the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation's Innovation Hall, IIC- 2001, on the St. John’s campus. Admission is free and parking will be available in lot 15B.