amongst books

amongst books

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Spring Ottawa Writers Festival Picks

I am an Ottawa International Writers Festival groupie, an ardent fan. Why? Because I love books & welcome the opportunity to discover new books, to meet authors of books I've read, & most importantly I attend because the OIWF is really a festival of ideas, as it says in its promo material. As a writer, these ideas are my playthings. Not only is it important for me to read work by others in my craft, but also to read about what's going on in the world today, what went on yesterday & what might occur tomorrow. This may not necessarily be how all writers work, I'm not suggesting that it's the only way, but it's my way. With that in mind, here, below this extraordinarily long paragraph are the writers & topics I'm particularly looking forward to hearing at the spring edition of the OIWF, which takes place from April 26 to April 30, 2012. Of course there are lots more events crammed in to five days that I either can't attend because of my own scheduling conflicts, or am having to miss so I can pace myself, but do take a look at the schedule & choose your own or just wander over to the Knox Church at Lisgar & Elgin & take a chance. You can pick up your tickets and passes on the Writes Festival site.

Thursday, April 26 CBC: Inside the CBC with Richard Stursberg, 6:30pm

I'm a huge fan of CBC Radio. Not really too much into CBC TV, except I still enjoy listening to Mansbridge read the news on the National. Thanks to the evil Harpy & his gang of ignorant thugs, CBC is the victim of serious budget cuts. I think this is a good time to hear about the CBC from an insider. Apparently Stursberg was the head of English services when the network was going thru a bunch of controversy, & when isn't it, really? It will be interesting to hear what he has to say.

Linden MacIntyre: Not As I Do with Yejide Kilkano, Lauren B. Davis and Linden MacIntyre, 8:30pm

I've heard MacIntyre read from his memoir & enjoyed his reading & candour. I've also watched him on the Fifth Estate on occasion, so to me, MacIntyre is a Canadian celebrity. I haven't heard of the other authors, so have a night of discovery ahead.

Friday, April 27 Ian Keteku: From the Horse's Mouth: A Masterclass on Slam Poetry and Spoken Word, noon.

I heard Ian perform during at the inaugural year of VERSeFest & he blew me away. He has a way with words, is very well-read, is musical, provocative & funny, not to mention charming. This is going to be a fun event.

Charles Foran: Cultural Icons with Carol Bishop-Gwyn and Charles Foran, 6:30pm

Foran will talk about his book, Mordecai: the Life & Times. I have come very close to buying this book a few times now. This reading may put me over the edge. I never liked Richler's books when I had to study them in high school. To be honest, sin of sins, I mixed him up with Morley Callaghan, whose More Joy In Heaven is one of the reasons why I stopped reading Canadian literature until my late 30s. But they are not the same, not at all. Richler wooed me back with Solomon Gursky Was Here & then I saw the film version of Duddy Kravitz with Richard Dreyfuss (we used to call him Richard Dryface) & then reread the book & enjoyed. Richler is another one of those bombastic Canucks who seem to grow here in the frozen north for some reason. & one of the reasons I love living here. I am also looking forward to Carol's talk on Celia Franca, mainly because I know absolutely nothing about ballet; it's not my thing at all & therefore, I'm interested.

Ami McKay: The Weight of History: Peter Hobbs, Ami McKay and Vincent Lam, 8:30pm

I loved both of McKay's novels: The Birth House, which I heard her read from at the festival, and the Virgin Cure. She has a way of combining history with personal experience that makes her characters & books very engaging. I'm somewhat intrigued by Vincent Lam's latest novel, the Headmaster's Wager & Peter Hobbs' book too. I think the combo of these three writers on stage will be potent.

Saturday, April 28 Marianne Apostolides: Truthfulness or Dare (Do the facts matter?) with Guy Gavriel Kay & Marianne Apostolides

I have Apostolodies' book, Swim; & although I can't say I read the whole thing, I liked the way she put sentences together in the bits I read, & her new book, Voluptuous Pleasure, The Truth About The Writing Life sounds juicy & I'm hoping, somewhat tongue in cheek. Guy Gavriel Kay is someone I have never read, but heard of, so hearing him read will be a discovery. The topic itself is interesting to me. The responsibilities of art that matter to me are to explore, to challenge the status quo & to beguile. Facts are there to serve the work. I think we live in a time of extreme pedantry, where the literal-minded are running the show. I'm also happy to hear that the host will be the Globe and Mail's Martin Levin, who I must admit, I have a bit of a crush on.

Sunday, April 29 Cocktales with Tamara Faith Berger, Daniel Allen Cox, Megan Butcher, Nerys Parry and Jasmine Aziz, 8:30pm Venus Envy

Well, I'm biased here for a number of reasons (& this is my blog, so I'm biased anyway all the time & what fun it is.):
I'm hosting this event;
I love transgressive literature. I see this reading as the descendant of Transgress, so lovingly hosted for several years, by Marcus McCann & put on in conjunction with Capital Xtra;
I am sweet on Daniel Allen Cox & Megan Butcher.

I'm reading the books & really enjoying them. Looking forward to hearing the authors read in a room full of corporal punishment implements & dildos.

Monday, April 30 Phil Jenkins: Poetic Documentary, a Masterclass, noon

I read Phil's column about walking Ottawa's history every Monday in the Ottawa Citizen & this has made me a fan of his writing. I haven't read but have been intrigued by his book about the history of Lebreton Flats.

Kim Thúy: Running in the Family with Brian Fawcett, Kim Thuy and Deni Y. Béchard, 6:30pm

I heard Kim read & be interviewed on Susan Johnston's Friday Special Blend on CKCU FM a while back & was intrigued by her book Ru & charmed by her humble nature. Also, based on the description of Deni Y. Béchard's book, Cures for Hunger, I am intrigued.

Snailhouse, The All In A Day Songwriting Circle: the Stage Name Summit with Joe Keithley (the artist formerly known as S***head), Masia One, Oh Susanna, Snailhouse, Socalled, 8:30pm.

Snailhouse, aka Mike Feuerstack, is a wonderful singer/songwriter/musician. I am a fan. I play Sentimental Gentleman a lot & have downloaded all the freebies from his site, but have heard him play live only once during an Arc reading many moons ago. I have to admit I have no clue about the others, except Oh Susanna, whose music I have heard around abouts. This songwriters' circle will probably be a bit more eclectic than the last, since last time it was a beautiful blend of folk & pop.

This season's version reminds me a bit of the old CBC Radio live show Fuse, which invited performers of very distinct types of music to play together. Charles & I often attended these shows & discovered new music that way. Alan Neal is hosting once again. I like him quite a bit & listen to his All in A Day radio show as often as I can. One day I'd love to see Jian Ghomeshi hosting this show or perhaps another festival event. I'm glad that the festival is having so many CBC personalities as the hosts of the festival.

I hope to see you at the festival. If you see me, come by, say hi, peel me a grape.

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