Remembering Andris Taskans
The Winnipeg Arts Council was saddened to hear of the passing of Andris Taskans last week. Andris is best known as the co-founder and editor of Prairie Fire magazine, and for his work in turning it into one of Canada’s preeminent journals of creative writing. His work in Winnipeg’s literary community runs deep, not only with Prairie Fire but as the first Artistic Director of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, and his contributions to the early days of the Manitoba Writers Guild and the Manitoba Magazine Publishers Association.
In recognition of his work to elevate the literary arts in our community and beyond, Andris was the winner of the Winnipeg Arts Council’s 2009 Making A Difference Award. His contributions have allowed Canadians to discover countless Winnipeg writers, and he was a mentor and advisor for many more.
Always an advocate for the arts, Andris will be missed. Winnipeg Poet Laureate Di Brandt offered these words of tribute:
We have lost a bright literary light of Winnipeg, of Canada, of the world. Andris was a generous, courageous, perceptive, elegant, devoted servant to professional literary writing in our country. Besides creating a high calibre literary magazine and inspiring others to join him in sustaining that calibre for nearly half a century, Andris was always alert to new creative opportunities for supporting writers and new writing, and had a large hand in the creation of the Manitoba Writers Guild, the THIN AIR Winnipeg International Writers Festival, and many other programs and events.
It's hard for us to remember, now, how little infrastructure there was for writers in our province and city forty years ago. No one served the transition to our currently robust and flourishing literary culture more graciously and steadfastly than Andris, and we have much to thank him for. He always had his eye out for the new hot literary thing, and kept us on the edge of exciting innovation, while at the same time holding a large space for the established writers among us, always highlighting their achievements with elegant appreciation and grace.
Andris, you will be greatly, deeply, richly missed. Here's to you, who inspired and led us, and fed us, for so long.
Photo of Andris Taskans at the 2009 Winnipeg Arts Council Awards by William Eakin