In Toronto’s Junction, Colin Marshall talks to Amy Lavender Harris, geographer at York University and author of Imagining Toronto, a study of the city as depicted in its literature. They discuss the psychedelically-illustrated, Toronto-centric poetry of Dennis Lee with which so many Torontonians grew up; how it took her thirty years from her Lee-reading days to come to understand the full scope of Toronto literature; In the Skin of a Lion, Michael Ondaatje’s much-named, little-read novel of city-building; how she first went about creating a university course on Toronto literature; her “personal fetish,” the narrative of place; multiculturalism as Toronto’s foundational myth; why Torontonians falsely believe the United Nations declared their city the world’s most diverse; the “eternal haggle” of life here; how she’s come to agree, at least halfway, with the description of the city as “a place where people live, but not where things happen”; why, in Canada, everyone has a hyphen; her non-Canadian-born husband’s appreciation of the country as one where “people have nothing to declare”; Torontonian manifestations of Stanley Fish’s “boutique multiculturalism” and Charles Taylor’s “inspired ad-hocing”; why hating Toronto became such a literary and social tradition; no longer talking about achieving “world class” status as a sign of having achieved it; what about Toronto architecture makes people call it ugly, and why buildings that make people talk have already succeeded; the significance of the ravines in the Torontonian consciousness; 1960′s suburban satire The Torontonians and the Canadian “flourishing of cultural production” that would come later that decade; Canada’s thoroughgoing urbanness against its imaginary self-conception as a rural country; and the important elements of Toronto — remaining, vanishing, and gone — identified in one particular Dennis Lee poem.
- Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E62: Nothing to Declare with Amy Lavender Harris
- Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E61: Publishing Crushing with Alana Wilcox
- Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Model Shop (Jacques Demy, 1969)
- Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E60: Having the City for Dinner with Corey Mintz
- Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E59: Walk, Don’t Brunch with Shawn Micallef