amongst books

amongst books

Friday, September 30, 2011

Writers Fest- a few picks from a reader & music geek

Ottawa International Writers Festival Fall Edition
October 20-25, 2011

i count on the festival to introduce me to writers i haven't heard of. i have noticed over the years that i have discovered many of the novels and short story collections i've read through attendance at the festival. here are a few of the authors & works i'm looking forward to discovering at this fest & of course i expect to discover other serendipitous surprises.

OCTOBER 20-AN EVER PRESENT PAST with Frances Itani, Carmen Rodriquez and Anita Rau Badami, Knox Church, 6:30pm

i read an article in the Ottawa Citizen recently which talked about the winter setting of Anita Rau Badami's "Tell it to the Trees" and the author's own lack of affinity for the season. i think there is so much that can be done with a winter setting. (speaking of winter, i would love to read Adam Gopnik's Massey Lecture: "Winter: Five Shadows on the Season" which gives an overview of how winter has been treated by artists and writers.)

i like reading about experiences of immigrants in Canada, especially East Indians. The book sounds like its fraught with a lot of family tension, which is always fun. The trailer is here, for those that like trailers.


SONGWRITING CIRCLE with Emm Gryner, Mathew Barber, Ann Vriend and Louise Burns, curated by the friendly Alan Neal of CBC's Ottawa Today and other shows. 8:30pm Knox Presbyterian Church. Emm Gryner!

RE-LIT AWARDS, 9:30pm Arc Lounge

i don't know if i'll make it there on time, but i am very happy to see that Glenn Nuotio will be performing in a celebration to John Lavery. i may have to break my rules and go anway, even if i'm late. also free books. i like free books. so who will win? well, here are my picks, not really guesses, but ...


Krakow Melt, Daniel Allen Cox (Arsenal Pulp)
(which i still haven't read! but i loved Shuck and i adore Daniel)

SHORT FICTIONI’m a Registered Nurse Not a Whore, Anne Perdue (Insomniac)

(again i haven't read this one and there are other amazing contenders here. love, love everything Ivan E. Coyote does, but i read a review of Perdue's book in Front&Centre by Matthew Firth and it sounded like a punch, no holes barred read.)


The Inquisition Years, Jen Currin (Coach House)
(heard Jen read from this book at an A B Series event and it's the only one i've read on the list, i'm ashamed to admit)


POETRY CABARET with Dionne Brand and Patrick Lane-hosted by the brilliant and talented Stephen Brockwell-4PM, Knox Presbyterian Church;

THE CHAIRS ARE WHERE THE PEOPLE GO with Sheila Heiti and Misha Glouberman, the Manx, 5pm; i will be sad to miss this event, you should defintely go. the book sounds unusual and quirky, worth a read.

BYWORDS JOHN NEWLOVE POETRY AWARD, 8:30 pm Knox Presbyterian Church (of course, this is one of my pics);
great music and wonderful readings by last year's recipient of the award Winter Fedyk and this year's honourable mentions and winner. it's a celebration of a year's worth of Bywords' poetry. and i will make a special announcement about next year's judge too. the evening will be full of surprises. and a cash bar!

and if i can manage to stay up, Ukrainia! 9:30pm Arc Lounge


PLAN 99 with Jennifer Still, Nick Thran and Sandra Ridley, the Manx Pub, 5pm
very much looking forward to hearing Sandra read from her new book Post-Apothecary

6:30pm HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE with Johanna Skibsrud, Helen Oyemi and Miriam Toews-hosted by the charming and skilled writer Michael Blouin, Knox Presbyterian Church

Helen is the only one of these three who i've ever heard read before at the festival, and i enjoyed her reading immensely at the time; i look forward to all three and i am fond of the theme, taken from a Sartre quote. All their books are on my wishlist. i haven't yet read Miriam Toews and Irma Voth sounds very captivating. I haven't heard much yet about Helen's Mr. Fox at all, but the blurb on the fest site is good. i have read & enjoyed some of Johanna's poetry, "Late Nights with Wild Cowboys" (Gaspereau Press, 2008) and am interested to see what she will do with short fiction in "This will be difficult to explain and other stories."

9:30pm MUSICAL LANGUAGE:SPOTLIGHT ON COACH HOUSE BOOKS with Rob Benvie and David McGimpsey, Arc Lounge

another late night event, which i am aiming to attend, but not making any promises. haven't ever heard of Benvie, but just took a look at his site, and saw he was a member of the band, the Dears, which i do sort of remember. so i have no idear (groan!). he's also one of the features at Coach House's fiction event on Monday, October 3 at Mother Tongue Books. (check the calendar, do i even need to say it?)

David McGimpsey is an Ottawa favourite. i enjoy his wry wit and self-deprecation. there's not enough self-deprecation in Canadian lit either. i also enjoy the photos of greasy food from American diners he posts on FaceBook. L'il Bastard is his fifth collection of poems.

IS IT HARD TO BE FUNNY with Christian McPherson and Miriam Toews at the Ottawa Public Library, Main Branch, noon, hosted by provocative Citizen columnist and blogger Peter Simpson. i am a fan of Chris's poetry and will be happy to see how he engages with Miriam and to see the different styles of their humour. there's not enough humour in Canadian literature, alas.

LOVE OF MY LIFE with David Gilmour, Kevin Chong and Anne Enright, 8:30pm Knox Presbyterian Church
i love it when David Gilmour comes to the festival. the man is charmingly provocative or provocatively charming. his book "the Film Club" was unputdownable. David hasn't been shy about mixing a lot of real life in his fiction. here's a review of his latest novel, the Perfect Order of Things. i do so enjoy the picaresque. i also am interested in the hybrid of memoir and fiction, the remixing of work from previous books into this book. i find it an inspiring possibility for poetry too (am conjuring up a new poetry project as i type this...)

i think the festival has done a good job programming a variety of cultural and literary events that will be of interest to Ottawans. and their pre-fest events are happening now. check the site for more info. become a member. hope to see you there.

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