Poets to speak out at lawsuit fundraiser for journalist Laura Robinson

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Canada’s former parliamentary poet laureate, Fred Wah, is one of the writers who will show their support for freelance journalist Laura Robinson—who is locked in a legal battle with former Vanoc CEO John Furlong—at a fundraiser on Thursday (May 1).

Wah will join Vancouver poet laureate Evelyn Lau and poets Marilyn Dumont, Daniela Elza, and Martha Roth for readings at the Speaking Freedom event.

In January, Robinson sued Furlong, alleging he defamed her in six public statements. Those statements followed the publication of Robinson’s September 2012 article, “John Furlong biography omits secret past in Burns Lake”, in the Georgia Straight.

In November 2012, Furlong filed a defamation suit against Robinson and the Straight over that article, which contained allegations of physical or verbal abuse from eight former students. Furlong filed a notice of discontinuance against the Straight in October 2013.

“A lawsuit is one of the most damaging and ‘chilling’ responses a writer can experience, with enormous repercussions creatively, professionally and financially,” Lau said in a statement. “It is so important that journalists like Laura Robinson can continue to pursue their craft without being forced into silence by this action.”

Speaking Freedom will take place at St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue), starting at 7 p.m. Straight editor Charlie Smith will emcee the event, which will also feature musician Jordan Matchett. Tickets are $50 and available via www.laurarobinsondefensefund.org. Proceeds will go to the Laura Robinson Defense Fund.

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