The air in Montréal is so dry that my nose was raw and painful the entire time I was in the province. I'm still rubbing it now, despite my return to the sweet humidity of the seacoast in New Hampshire. I guess Boulder, CO is out of the question for life choices.
I went to Montréal for a conference the first weekend of Spring Break, and presented a paper I wrote last fall about Derek Walcott’s poem “The Schooner Flight” and conceptions of Caribbean essential identity. The extended length seminar paper required a lot of research on my own concerning phenomenology, Heidegger, and essentialism. Not generally my cup of tea, but luckily I was able to swing some post-structuralism in there for good measure. I won’t bore you with the details.
The conference was hosted by the Université of Montréal’s English Studies graduate department and focused on “Literature on the Margins.” It was a small conference—geared toward graduate students—and consequently I felt obligated to go to the majority of the panels, whether or not I was interested in them academically. And, while YA literature is a fascinating field, I am not necessarily invested in what everyone kept referring to as “Canadian Ideology.”
Did you know there is a whole canon of Canadian Literature out there?
Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the Canuck jokes. You must get at least two freebies once you’ve put this in your mouth, though, right?
While the conference took up most of our time, we did manage to see a little bit of the city. Montréal is shaped kind of like a doughnut, with a “mountain” (hill. I couldn’t see it from where we were…) in the center, and evidently we found ourselves on the boring side of the mountain. After a trip to St. Joseph’s Oratory—a beautiful basilica up against said mountain—to SEE A SAINT’S HEART IN A RELIQUARY, Andrew and I took the metro to the downtown area. We ate in Chinatown, after wandering around following smells for a while, and meandered through Vieux Port (Old Port), looking at the old architecture and the restaurants that were too fancy to post their prices on their outdoor menus.
A couple of real-honest-to-goodness-French-style croissants and three blocks of unpasteurized cheese later, I’m back in the States, sloughing through the final half of my final semester of my Masters program.