Original Synapse

Local Reading Series With Concordia Roots Debuts

Graphic Alex Manley

The series, curated by Steph Colbourn and Lizy Mostowski, both of whom are Concordia creative writing majors, is a fresh face on the literary block and aims to foster creative energy. If Mostowski and Colbourn’s enthusiasm for the project is anything to go on, Synapse should be a smash hit.

“I walked into Sina’s office some time during the fall and she mentioned that she was starting something and asked if I wanted to be a part of it,” said Mostowski. Having had Queyras as a professor the previous year, she was quick to say yes. “I feel privileged to have her as a mentor and greatly admire her.”

Colbourn echoed her co-curator’s feelings. “She’s really open, and aside from being amazing with her work, she’s also a lovely person. She knows a lot about a lot but she’ll never really tell you, she kind of makes you tell her.”

Though Queyras oversees the project, her focus is to foster pre-existing creativity among local artists rather than limiting Synapse to her governance alone. In this vein, although the series was born at Concordia, and as such may appear to have an academic air to it, its intention is to cultivate an arena for local writers on a broader scale.

One reason for the birth of Synapse was so that “Montreal writers aren’t only reading their work for school purposes; this [gives] them another environment to get their work out to the public,” said Colbourn. Following Queyras’ mandate, the series aims to “foster dialogues across genres, disciplines, and levels of experience” within a local setting.

The series will hold its first reading Nov. 24 in the VAV gallery, located in Concordia’s VA building. Of the gallery, Mostowski said that they were “attracted to the space, as it exhibits undergraduate art, has great windows which look out onto the street and courtyard, and has a certain ambiance.”

This “certain ambiance” is the kind the series is enthusiastic to cultivate—an open disposition encouraging all to participate in its blooming stages.

The first reading, Colbourn said, received “all kinds of different pieces, since we didn’t have a theme for the submissions.”

Mostowski outlined that in sorting through these submissions, they were “looking for innovative writing which could captivate an audience; writing which will showcase local up-and-coming talent.”

The curators took into account the selections relative to each other. “We also looked for a certain cohesion between readers, a certain ebb and flow, a certain mood,” admitted Mostowski.

The first reading will feature pieces by Emma Healey, Razielle Aigen, Guillaume Morissette and Leesa Dean, as well as what the series is promoting as a “surprise guest”—though Mostowski revealed that he/she is a Montreal based poet who has just published his or her first book.

But the first reading is only the beginning. Synapse will be gearing up for a second reading in January, and Queyras hopes the project will outlive her stay at Concordia.

“We just want to have a community of artists and a place to show that off here in Montreal,” said Colbourn, summing up Synapse’s raison d’être.

The first Synapse reading takes place at the VAV Gallery, 1395 René-Levesque Blvd. W. on Nov. 24 at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 15, published November 23, 2010.