series of nested circles with the words SpokenWeb

The Contemporary Literature Collection and other collections including archival sound recordings at SFU are housed in Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Bennett Library, in Special Collections and Rare Books. The Contemporary Literature Collection includes multiple collections of literary sound recordings that span more than 60 years of poetry readings, literary conversation, and writing history. More information about individual collections within the Contemporary Literature Collection and other SFU collections with sound holdings is available below.

This list is a partial inventory of the collections that hold sound recordings at SFU. For a full inventory, or if you have questions about the Contemporary Literature Collection or the other specific collections listed here, reach out to Tony Power.  

Other than the Robin Blaser Fonds, these collections are currently unavailable online. However they can be heard in person at Special Collections and Rare Books at SFU’s Bennett Library.

Readings in B.C. Collection
Archival reference: MsC 199
Number of tapes: ~1,044 cassettes

The Readings in B.C. Collection holds recordings of literary readings, panels, conference events, and lectures from more than 400 Canadian and American writers. The recordings range from the mid-1960s to the 2010s, recorded mostly in the Lower Mainland and throughout British Columbia.

Anita Rau Badami Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 141
Number of tapes: 2 cassettes

Anita Rau Badami (1961-) is the author of four novels: Tamarind Mem (1997), The Hero’s Walk (2001), Can You Hear the Nightbird Call (2006), and Tell it to the Trees (2011). Her fonds at SFU contains records collected by Badami during the course of her career, including two audio cassettes. The cassettes are titled “CBC India 50th Century” and “Midnight’s Children: Fiction of South Asia,” and are from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

B.C. Poets and Press Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 19
Number of tapes: 16 cassettes

The B.C. Poets and Press Fonds contains recordings of interviews done for a special issue of Open Letter, a Victoria-founded journal of writing and theory, on B.C. poets. The issue was published in the summer of 1989, and the cassettes are accompanied by printed transcripts.

Robin Blaser Fonds and Readings in B.C. 
Archival reference: MsA 1, 1a and in Readings in B.C.
Number of tapes: 12 cassettes (MsA 1, 1a); and ~73 cassettes (Readings in B.C.)

Robin Blaser, author and poet, was a member of the Berkeley Renaissance group of poets and a professor at Simon Fraser University from 1966 to 1986. The Robin Blaser Fonds holds readings, studio recordings, and an audio program for the play “The Last Supper” in MsA 1 and MsA 1a. The cassettes in the Readings in B.C. collection hold SFU course lectures, readings, and panel discussions.

Filling Station Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 73
Number of tapes: 6 cassettes

The filling Station Publications Society is a society that publishes a literary arts magazine three times a year. Formed in Calgary, Alberta, in 1993, it also hosts events and fundraisers, and publishes stand-alone literary chapbooks. The cassettes in the fonds hold recordings of local slam poetry events as well as readings by local poets.

Gerry Gilbert Fonds (includes radiofreerainforest audio tapes)
Archival reference: MsC 14
Number of tapes: ~500 cassettes, and 24 reel to reel

Gerry Gilbert was a Vancouver-based poet, host of the weekly radiofreerainforest broadcast, and founder of “B.C. Monthly.” This fonds consists of records ranging from 1952-1992 in the form of extensive textual records (travel diaries, tax documents, notebooks, etc.) and audio recordings of the radiofreerainforest broadcasts.

Fumiko Kiyooka Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 194
Number of tapes: 49 cassettes

The fonds consists of research, moving image, and audio from the production of Kiyooka’s documentary REED: the life and works of Roy Kiyooka. Includes interviews, likely unedited, with various writers for the film.

Roy Kiyooka Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 32
Number of tapes: ~420 cassettes

Roy Kiyooka was a poet and multidisciplinary artist who moved to Vancouver, BC in 1959. Sound holdings include readings and talks, and also many recordings of music, personal musings, ‘kitchen tapes,’ and sounds of the city. Fonds also contains many unknown tapes that are unmarked.

Kootenay School of Writing Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 68
Number of tapes: ~308 cassettes, 7 CDs, 27 mini-DVD cassettes

The Kootenay School of Writing is a literary collective formed in the 1960s by prominent figures in BC, predominantly located in Nelson and Vancouver. Contents include recordings of readings, talks, and lectures, as well as administrative records, meeting minutes, correspondence, and promotional materials, such as brochures and posters, from their events.

Hartmut Lutz Collection
Archival reference: MsC 206
Number of tapes: 99 cassettes

Interviews, lectures, and readings by Indigenous artists and scholars spanning from the 1970s to the 1990s, including Thomas King, Joy Harjo, Russell Means, and Howard Adams

Daphne Marlatt Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 142
Number of tapes: 4 cassettes, 9 CDs, 5 reels

Daphne Marlatt is a Vancouver-based poet and writer. She was involved with the poets known as the TISH group, edited poetry for The Capilano Review, and has published several poetry works, novels, chapbooks, collaborations, and a script. The fonds includes CBC and Coop radio interviews and a number of readings, all predominantly from after 1990.

Michael McClure Fonds
Archival reference: MsA 5
Number of tapes: ~75 cassettes, 5 reel to reel

Michael McClure was a well-known poet and playwright, and a member of the “Beat Generation.” The fonds holds tape recordings of readings by both McClure and other members of the “Beat Generation,” mostly poets.

Roy Miki Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 161
Number of tapes: ~65 cassettes, 2 CDs

Art, ephemera, curriculum and chapbooks from poet and professor Roy Miki, spanning from the1970s until the early 2000s. Audio holdings include sessions and interviews with poets, recordings from the Larissa Lai event at Western Front 2006, and Warren Tallman interviews.

Shani Mootoo Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 76
Number of tapes: 4 cassettes

Radio programs, interviews, and films by Trinidadian artist and writer Shani Mootoo.

Al Neil Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 128
Number of tapes: 4 cassettes, 2 LPs, 56 reels, 3 audio discs

Reels, cassettes, and LP’s from the collection of Al Neil, an important figure in Vancouver BC’s jazz scene in the 1950’s and 60’s. The sound recordings are largely from 1976 to 1987, consisting mostly of music and sound recordings but including interviews, as well.

bp Nichol Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 12

bpNichol was a Vancouver-based poet known for his concrete poetry. He had his own presses, grOnk and Ganglia, and was a member of the sound-poetry group, “The Four Horsemen.” The fonds includes recordings of readings and performances, likely both alone and with The Four Horsemen, and possibly conference panel recordings.

Lisa Robertson Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 38
Number of tapes: 8 cassettes ​​​​​​

Lisa Robertson is a California-based poet who attended Simon Fraser University and was involved in the Kootenay School of Writing in the 1980s.

Warren Tallman Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 26
Number of tapes: 237 tapes, 21 reel to reel

Warren Tallman was an important figure in Canadian poetry, and mentor to the Tish writers. The fonds includes poetry readings, writings, notes, and correspondence.

Peter Trower Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 36
Number of tapes: 7 cassettes, 31 CDs

Peter Trower was a Vancouver-based poet. His years working in logging camps throughout B.C. influenced his work. The fonds includes musical performances and other sound recordings from 1981 to 2004.

Michael Turner Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 107
Number of tapes: 46 cassettes

The personal collection of the author of “Hardcore Logo” includes a CBC radioplay adaptation as well as a large collection of poetry readings and cassettes of punk bands in Vancouver.

Alan Twigg Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 63
Number of tapes: 149 audio cassettes, 2 audio reels, 4 CDs

Series consists of records relating to Peter Trower’s readings, his musical performances, and his participation in various literary festivals, conferences and interviews. Includes readings by Al Purdy, Patrick Lane, Ken Dalgleish.

Eleanor Wachtel Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 21
Number of tapes: 42 reel to reel

Audio reels of Eleanor Wachtel’s CBC radio reviews of stage plays, motion pictures, children's books and popular culture events and festivals, especially those held in the Lower Mainland area of B.C. 

Fred Wah Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 17
Number of tapes: 25 cassettes, 15 sound CDs, 27 mini-cassettes

A prominent figure of BC’s literary scene, Fred Wah was a member of the collective who formed the TISH poetry newsletter in the 1960’s and was a member of the Kootenay School or Writing.

Women and Words Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 23
Number of tapes: 115 cassettes

A large collection of panel discussions, meetings, and readings from the Women and Words conference in 1983. Includes a Native Women Writer panel featuring Maria Campbell, Beth Cuthand, and Jeanette Armstrong.

Carolyn Zonailo Fonds
Archival reference: MsC 79
Number of tapes: 4 cassettes, 3 phonographic records

Four cassettes of Carolyn Zonailo’s poetry, two of which feature music by Kevin Godson.