amongst books

amongst books

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Picks for the Fest

here are the literary events that i’m particularly looking forward to at this fall’s Ottawa International Writers Festival, which takes place from October 20 – 26, 2010:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

With music by John Lavery; Hosted by Kenneth J. Harvey
The Barley Mow, 1060 Bank St. 8:30pm

The Relits are always great fun and this year’s has the added bonus of John Lavery’s excellent music and taking place in a pub.

I don’t have any opinions about who should win for fiction; for poetry, I’ve read only Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul Whip so far and am curious about the other work on the list, so I am looking forward to hearing the winning poet’s work, whoever she or he may be.

Friday, October 22, 2010

With Peter Dubé, Lisa Foad, Amber Dawn and S. Bear Bergman
Hosted by Marcus McCann
Mayfair Theatre, 1070 Bank St., 8:30pm

I’ve only met Foad once and heard her work once at the Naughty Thoughts Book Club. Her short fiction collection, the Night is a Mouth, is excellent. I’m looking forward to hearing the other readers because Marcus always makes interesting choices and expands my reading knowledge. I always hope these events will be racy too.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

With Ken Sparling and Sheila Heti; Hosted by David O'Meara
The Manx Pub, 370 Elgin St., 5pm
Nice of the organizers to include this as part of festival programming. I wish more event organizers would have their events become part of the festival rather than hold competing events. I’ve heard the buzz about both Sparling and Heti’s work and I’m interested in hearing them read.

With James Moran, Glen Hirshberg and Peter Atkins
Mayfair Theatre, 1070 Bank St., 8:30pm
I think Sean Moreland is hosting this, but am not sure. His fine hand is involved, I know that much. I’ve heard Hirshberg before, reading from a few of his works, including the chilling and compelling novel the Snowman’s Children. I haven’t heard James Moran read in ages, so it’ll be good to see his dark side come out for this event. I know nothing of Peter Atkins.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

With William Gibson; Hosted by Kate Heartfield
Mayfair Theatre, 1070 Bank St, 2pm
I missed Gibson’s reading the last time and ended up reading and enjoying not only Spook Country, but an article of Gibson’s on writing, so this will be fun. And that Gibson will pack the house with diehard fans, which is always fun to experience.

Sandra Birdsell, John Lavery and David Bergen; Hosted by Sean Wison
Mayfair Theatre, 1070 Bank St., 8:30pm
I’m looking forward to hearing Lavery read from his new book, “Sandra Beck.” I enjoyed the book immensely, as I do with all of his writing. I’m a Lavery groupie, a Laveryist. I just might rush the stage…

Sunday, October 25, 2010
[this is our municipal election day, so i hope everyone gets the chance to vote before coming to the events.]

Featuring Marcus McCann
Music by The Companionship Registry
Hosted by Amanda Earl
Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Ave.
Clearly I’m biased about this one. I have to keep the names of the winner and honourable mentions secret for a few months and I’m bursting to tell. The Bywords team has been working with Marcus all year on his chapbook and I’m looking forward to publishing the results of all that work and hearing him read. I chose James Missen (the Companionship Registry) to perform the music because I heard him at Café Nostalgica during a New Stalgicia Reading Series night last year and thought he was fantastic and wanted to treat the Bywords’ audience to some incredible talent that they probably haven’t heard before. As always we’ll have readings of some of John Newlove’s poems. This is the city’s opportunity to celebrate the work of an excellent poet who lived in Ottawa for the last 20 years of his life. I always feel humbled and inspired by the strength and honesty of his writing.

With Peter Norman, Sandra Ridley, George Murray and MT Kelly;
Hosted by Stephen Brockwell
Mayfair Theatre, 1070 Bank St., 8:30pm
I know three out of four of these, haven’t heard either Norman or Murray read in ages, so that’s going to be fun. And Sandra is a dear friend with exquisite writing. I am pleased that she gets the chance to share Fallout, her poetry book with Hagios Press, with Ottawa poetry enthusiasts and festival goers. Her work will surprise and delight. She’s an excellent reader too.

Monday, October 26, 2010

With Anchee Min, Emma Donoghue, and Alexander MacLeod;
Hosted by Michael Blouin
Mayfair Theatre, 1070 Bank St., 6:30pm
I am a big fan of Donoghue’s and I like some of Macleod’s work. I haven’t heard of Min, but that’s one of the reasons I enjoy the festival: exposure to new writers.

I may go to other events; I may not go to some of the ones I’ve listed here. Stuff happens. Buy passes for yourself and your loved ones. You’ll have an inspiring and enriching experience and likely walk away with a pile of good reading material for the upcoming cold Ottawa winter.

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