Archives for posts with tag: alberta college of art and design

I am truly honoured to have received two “Gracious Gratitude Award” from the Alberta College of Art + Design Student Association (ACADSA). These are my fifth and sixth teaching awards in the last five years; my students make it amazing. Thank you.GG2016GG20162

Alternating Twill Zig Zag_

Alternating Twill Zig Zag by Francesca Capone

FEBRUARY 12-13, 2016!

A two day symposium discussing writing and text-art in a trans-media environment. Featuring discussions and performances by nationally and internationally renowned speakers on the role of creative writing, narrative and “story-telling” in visual and digital art & craft, performance, screen-writing and pedagogy.
WHERE NEXT features nationally and internationally-recognized artists, Calgarian teachers and practitioners, ACAD staff and students — all focused on creative writing and radical pedagogy. Join us for two days of cutting-edge conversation and performance on the role of creative writing within an arts discourse and how writing overlaps teaching and learning.
Coordinated by Calgary’s 2014-2016 Poet Laureate, and ACAD Instructor, Derek Beaulieu.

Tickets are available here.(student discount available by entering the code ACADCreativeWriter)

Keynote Presentations

Jason Edward Lewis (Montreal, QC): Concordia University Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary. Lewis is the director of the Initiative for Indigenous Futures and co-director of the Skins Workshops on Aboriginal Storytelling and Video Game Design, as well as the winner of the inaugural Robert Coover Award for Electronic Literature for The P.o.E.M.M. Cycle.

Francesca Capone (Portland, OR, USA) is a visual artist who works with interdisciplinary practices. She is currently exhibiting at LUMA/Westbau, The Last Brucennial, The Gelman Gallery at the RISD Museum, Publication Studio Hudson and The Granoff Center at Brown University. She is the author of Weaving Language: Writing in Threads.

Liz Worth (Toronto, ON): Worth’s first book was the first in-depth account of the history of Toronto’s punk music scene entitled Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond, which created a renewed interest in preserving the history of Canadian punk. Her most recent collection is No Work Finished Here: Rewriting Andy Warhol, a poetic response to Andy Warhol’s novel a: a novel. Worth is also the author of Amphetamine Heart and PostApoc.

Tamara Himmelspach
Ashok Mathur
Nick Sousanis
Naoko Masuda
Silas Kaufman
Cheryl Foggo
Larissa Lai
Christian Bok
Andrew Wreggitt
Devyani Saltzman
Natali Rodrigues
Riley Rossmo
Sarah Grodecki
Joe Hospodarec
Victoria Braun
Natalie Lauchlan
Jen Mizuik
Wendy Hill-Tout
Heather Huston
Alex Link

A class now being offered by the Alberta College for Arts and Design (ACAD) is proving that studying English doesn’t have to be boring – it can be as exciting as a game of dungeons and dragons – literally.

Instructor Derek Beaulieu has developed a new way of teaching his English 217 class, which he has developed from traditional studies of poetry, to comic books and now, with a vintage twist, choose your own adventure books and other narrative-style board games.

That’s right – you can play your way through English class.

“Officially it’s called introduction to narrative and what we’re going to do is to look at how readers create their own narrative,” Beaulieu said. “Basically, different forms that involve the reader in a writerly role, which basically makes you and the writer equivalent people.”

Class will consist of analyzing choose your own adventure styled books and creating a storyline tree, playing narrative games like dungeons and dragons and other reader driven story games.

“The whole idea is these are all print-based forerunners for the Internet,” Beaulieu said. “Choose your own adventure games are rudimentary video games.”

“How we understand what reading is has changed. Reading is the traditional form, picking up a book, reading it cover to cover, but also reading has become way more interactive,” Beaulieu said.

Beaulieu will be looking for board game donations as well as book donations to beef up his repertoire for students in class. He is even considering a lunch time board game club for interested students.

Although the class seems a little off the wall, it’s still an applicable credit Beaulieu said – adding it’s designed with artists and tactile learners in mind. He is teaching them to apply what they learn to web design, video games and other modern storytelling techniques.

“We’re going to basically turn a literary course into a game for us to teach us the decision-making process around video games…this is going to be the most fun, most weird, most engaged class ever.”

Wanna give up your old DM stuff?
Donations can be arranged by sending an email to or dropping them off for Beaulieu at the ACAD office.

9251749If all goes as planned for local poet and Alberta College of Art and Design writing instructor Derek Beaulieu, fledgling scribes across Calgary will soon be seen loudly tapping away at portable typewriters in public places.

By Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald.

They will be on the CTrain. In coffee shops. In the class room. Just about anywhere you would see fledgling writers tapping silently away on laptops.

“We are going to have that sound back in the culture again,” says Beaulieu, in an interview at a typewriter-free coffee shop last week. “We are going to have that sound in the classroom. I’m going to tell them no laptops and no iPads in the classroom, only manual typewriters. All their notes are going to have be done that way, and yes they are going to have to hand them in. They are going to be doing poetry, they are going to be doing prose.”

While all this might sound avant-garde and far afield from what many would consider traditional instruction for creative writing, it fits with Beaulieu’s own impressive canon of work as a writer and the theories that guide it. He has earned acclaim locally and internationally for cheerfully breaking rules when it comes to poetry. Even in Calgary, a hot spot for the avant-garde, Beaulieu’s work is aggressively experimental. Earlier this year, Wilfrid Laurier University Press released Please, No More Poetry, which found Mount Royal English instructor Kit Dobson putting together an anthology of Beaulieu’s work, which stretches back to the 1990s and includes nine books and countless pieces in magazines and chapbooks.

The title poem was written as a “manifesto” for a Vancouver magazine a few years back. It was meant to be a less-than-subtle nudge to his fellow bards, encouraging them to think more about expanding poetry than adhering to its old rules.

Among the withering observations contained within are “In poetry we celebrate mediocrity and ignore radicality” and “all bad poetry springs from genuine feelings” and “having been unpopular in high school is not just cause for book publications.”

“I want our community of writers and of poets to push this art form forward,” says Beaulieu. “I don’t see poetry as where we go to be told comforting stories or to have the same old words told back to us. I would like poetry to be challenging itself, to be pushing itself and to be finding new ways of expressing and using language in a way that is akin to experimental astrophysics, where scientists don’t just create work for consumption, they also try to theorize what comes next.”

Which should give some context to Beaulieu’s own body of work. In “That’s Not Writing”, another piece in the collection, Beaulieu puts together 50 proclamations that he found through a Google search that start with the titular term. “That’s not writing, that’s plumbing” is one, which was apparently what Samuel Beckett said about William Burroughs. But most of the work isn’t so on the nose in presenting Beaulieu’s ideas. Please, No More Poetry contains a number of concrete or shape poems, where the visual aspects are just as, if not more, important than the words. In his 2011 book How to Write, Beaulieu “plagiarized” 10 short stories from various sources; basically treating words the way a DJ samples music. A few years ago, he created a representation of an issue of the Calgary Herald without using any text. He used different colours to represent the type of news that was being reported, recreating 124 pages of multi-coloured blocks for a piece that has been exhibited worldwide.

It all fits loosely into the category of conceptual art, something writer Russell Smith once cheekily described as “art that takes longer to read about than to witness.”

But it represents the sort of radical thinking that Beaulieu wants to pass on to his students with the typewriter. Of course, the problem with using an antiquated remnant from the past is that they tend to be antiquated. So far, Beaulieu has only secured seven manual typewriters. He reckons he needs 35. But he hopes more will be donated, with the idea that the collection can be used for future classes as well.

So what if, to play devil’s advocate, a young student has scant interest in expanding the boundaries of poetry and simply wants to learn how to write like Shakespeare or Robert Frost or E.E. Cummings or Kanye West?

Well, the nuts and bolts of writing are still part of the course, he says. But Beaulieu does not see a contradiction in encouraging young poets to be forward-looking in how they approach their art, while simultaneously forcing them to use an outdated machine to create it. In fact, it all makes strange sense, at least in a poetic, avant-garde kind of way.

“By using dead technology, but using these machines that are outside, we are in fact learning how we interface with the tools we have now,” Beaulieu says. “Students don’t look to their iPad and their cellphone as productive artistic spaces because they are too close. These are not paint brushes, these are the extensions of their hand. So if you get them a few steps back from their machine and give them another one that does the same stuff, it gives them enough artistic distance to be able to use them as a tool. Then, once they learn how to use them as a tool and how to be productive around these type of machines, hopefully what they end up doing is bring that forward. (They will) use that same kind of awareness of the poetic possibilities of these tools and apply them to cellphones, iPads, your PlayStation 3. Whatever.”

decompMy students, colleagues and I have organized some phenomenal (and free) events at Alberta College of Art + Design and around Calgary over the next few weeks, don’t miss out!

Wednesday NOV 27th 12:30-1:30: Chris Frey and Julia Petrov will be speaking in Room 520 in the last Liberal Studies Speakers Series of 2013 — come on out, bring a friend!

Thursday NOV 28th 5:15: probably Canada’s most important contemporary sound artist / composer, John Oswald, will be talking in Room 595.

Friday NOV 29 12:30-1:50: my ENGL216 students will launch PRY— a zine / compilation of interviews done by ACAD students of local (Calgary and Alberta) artists, writers and poets — in Room 520. Food and drinks will be served. Many of the interviewees will be in attendance at the release party.

Thursday DEC 5 5:30-9:00: (RE)VERB, A multimedia event in response to Decomp by Stephen Collis and Jordan Scott. Featuring a reading and talk by Jordan Scott and performances and sound art pieces by students in ENGL315 (Room 595)

Friday DEC 6 7:30pm at PAGES BOOKS: Jordan Scott will be reading from his new book Decomp (co-written with Stephen Collis and published by Coach House Books) and Aaron Giovannone will be reading selections from his forthcoming book The Loneliness Machine (Insomniac Press)

Thursday DEC 12 7:30pm at PAGES BOOKS: Christian Bök (author of Eunoia), Paul Zits (author of Massacre Street) and I will be reading as part of filling Station magazine’s Flywheel reading series.

and A REMINDER: I’m still hoping to gather 35 working portable manual typewriters for my January 2014 Creative Writing class at ACAD. Can you help?

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Unknown ACAD Liberal Studies Instructor Derek Beaulieu is planning to teach his students how to type.

Starting in January, every student in Beaulieu’s Creative Writing course will be required to create all of their notes, their assignments and their final projects on portable manual typewriters.

Students will be required to write in class, in coffee houses and on public transit in order to make traditional poetry and prose, but also to use the typewriters to create portraits and music — all in order to explore the artistic possibilities of these sadly neglected machines.

In order to bring these ideas to his students, Beaulieu is seeking the donation of 35 portable, manual typewriters in working condition. 

“Typewriters epitomize the romance of being a writer. Every typewriter harkens back to a golden age: the clack of the keys, the ding of the carriage, the rachetting of the roller. This is an opportunity for students to engage as artists with the sensual, tactile experience of making language.”

Unknown-2Beaulieu has already started to gather a few typewriters, most of which he has found in the dusty corners of shops in Okotoks, Blairmore, Coleman and on the neglected shelves of jumble shops in Calgary. Well-oiled and awaiting the ingenuity of students to bring them alive again, each typewriter allows for a new chance to see these once frequent machines to ring with new projects and manuscripts.

Students will sign out the typewriters and will be required to return them at the end of semester in working order, allowing for an ongoing resource and a chance to offer the class again and again. At the end of semester student projects will be celebrated in a small gallery exhibition on campus.

Old portable typewriters — found in basements, closets and backroom storage — are perfectly ideal for this unusual course as every typewriter will allow a student to treat writing as a hands-on process — a chance to relearn how it felt to write one letter at a time.

ACAD has a rich legacy of hands-on education in craft, design and art — and this course brings all of those ideas to creative writing in one noisy, clacking classroom of student-driven exploration.

Derek Beaulieu can be reached via email

As part of teaching ENGLISH 216: Literature and Community at Alberta College of Art + Design this Fall, I have made sure my students have had a chance to meet and listen to in-class readings by some of Calgary’s most challening and exciting speakers. My student Jennifer Herring recorded many of the class visits. Click below to hear full recording of many of the performances:

October 4: Caitlynn Cummings, managing editor of filling Station magazine

October 18: Christian Bök and Helen Hajnoczky

October 25: Paul Zits

November 1: Natalie Simpson

November 15: Eric Moschopedis and Mia Rushton

Huge thanks to all of the poets and performers. You’ve helped bring the class – and the Calgarian community – to life.