On Saturday morning under a blue sky, Andy Brown of Montreal, Ottawans Megan Butcher , Matthew Firth, Joanne Proulx and Frances Itani read to a decent-sized crowd.
The most memorable parts of the event for me were
Brown’s excerpt from the Mole Chronicles (Insomniac Press), which is not about the creatures that run around and poke their heads out of holes, but about those things on your skin. The excerpt he read from was about the trauma and humour leading up to having one removed. He’s an interesting writer and managed to hold the crowd’s attention.
Megan Butcher's well crafted poetry. One piece, Lullaby, about an anorexic girl in hospital, is one of my favourites of Butcher’s pieces so far. Butcher also read an excerpt from her intriguing and autobiographical blog. Some silly guy actually told Butcher that he “used to think she was hot” but not anymore. Hard to understand.
Matthew Firth's “Bruised Ribs,” a story from his excellent collection Suburban Pornography (Anvil Press). The story is about a middle-aged man playing tackle football with boys in their teens and feeling the pain and their age. It’s good to see stories that are about people who are not in their 20s for a change. Firth as I’ve said many times before, is a fine writer with particularly excellent abilities to create strong dialog and vivid descriptions without bullshit. Oh...I really do have to make that sexiest Canadian male fiction writers list.
My attention span on a hot sunny day wasn’t strong enough to be drawn in by Joanne Proulx’s Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet (Penguin Books), nor Frances Itani’s fiction. I’ve never read Itani’s prose and I keep hearing about how wonderful it is, but based on what I've heard about three times, it’s just not my style...tales of meeting the queen, beautiful and pristine language. I could tell that the audience enjoyed it though and a number of people walked off with the free chapbook of the first chapter of her latest book. With Proulx’s book, I blame myself for not paying attention. I was already sated after Brown, Butcher and Firth. Really I can handle only about three authors at a time. After that my brain goes away.
An afternoon on a patio with friends and beer meant an evening of siesta instead of returning for music, but I heard in the Citizen review that it was a good show.
Speaking of the Citizen, today’s Book Happenings didn’t bother to mention the upcoming Tree reading on Tuesday night, featuring Barry Dempster and Susan Elmslie. I was pleased to see an article on Shane Rhodes’ latest poetry collection by local writer Chris Robinson though. I just wish the Citizen would work harder on Book Happenings. Last week it wasn’t even there at all. Often it is full of errors. How hard can this be?
Westfest activities continue today with Ottawa’s talented spoken word performers: Festrell, Danielle K.L. Grégoire, Nathanael Jules Larochette, Carlos Perez, and lots more music, but I will be tidying up for tonight’s Poetic Desserts merriment hosted in my home. I am thrilled that we have a free music and literature festival in Ottawa in June. Takes the sting out of Tulipfest.
Lots of amazing stuff to do this June!