Philosopher and poet Jan Zwicky visits BU to discuss language and perception

This article is over 5 years old.

BRANDON – What is meaning? Why does it matter? How does it affect our understanding of the natural world?

Philosopher and award-winning poet Jan Zwicky will explore these questions during her upcoming talk at Brandon University (BU) on Friday, March 16 at 3:40 p.m., in Room 104 of Clark Hall.

Head shot of Jan Zwicky in front of a blue background
Jan Zwicky

As a philosopher Zwicky is interested in Greek and environmental philosophy and the history of European philosophy. She has published three books on philosophy: Lyric Philosophy, Wisdom and Metaphor, and Alkibiades’ Love and is known for her highly original approach to questions of epistemology and how we know what we know.

Zwicky will present a lecture that examines how meaning is not simply linguistic but involves perception and grasping of a complex whole that is not simply the sum of its parts.

Consequently, the very intellectual capacities engaged in the experience of meaning are disrupted when they are analysed. This has important implications in a culture that values analysis and description as core features of intelligence. The implications, however, are much broader than how understanding meaning affects concepts of intelligence: it affects the ways in which we view the very world around us. Zwicky will also explain how a neglect of meaning has contributed to a misunderstanding of the natural world that is responsible for the current planetary crisis.

Jan Zwicky is also an accomplished poet and won the Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry in 1999 for Songs for Relinquishing the Earth. Her poetry collection Forge was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize in 2011, and she has published an additional seven collections of poetry. Zwicky will also give a poetry reading at the Brandon Public Library on Saturday, March 17 at 12:30 p.m.

“We are so grateful to have such an accomplished writer and thinker as Jan Zwicky visiting the Brandon community to share her ideas and work with us,” said Dale Lakevold, Associate Professor in the BU Department of English & Creative Writing.

“The generosity of her poetry and philosophy helps us to see the world anew.”

Copies of two of her poetry collections, Forge and Songs for Relinquishing the Earth, and two of her philosophy books, Lyric Philosophy and Alkibiades’ Love are available for purchase at the BU Bookstore. Zwicky will be happy to sign copies at her talk and her poetry reading.

Please join us for events on campus and at the Brandon public library to celebrate the visit of one of Canada’s major poets and philosophers. All members of the University and community are welcome to attend these events.

These events are a result of collaboration between The Faculty of Arts Speaker Series, the English & Creative Writing Literary Exchange and the Brandon Public Library.

To ensure these events are accessible to all interested individuals, please send an email to or call 204-727-9790 in advance to advise the organizers of any accessibility or accommodation needs.


To receive any BU publication in an alternate format please contact

About BU

Success is built at Brandon University. Our growing, progressive campus welcomes a diverse and inclusive community that combines proud tradition with shared ambition. Through our excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship, we educate students to make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders. Join us at