amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

My picks for the Ottawa International Writers Festival

Once again this fall, the Ottawa International Writers Festival has put together a fine program to suit many different tastes with events on topics that range from food, science, film, music, current events, history and literature. The festival takes place from Wednesday, October 24 to Tuesday, October 30, 2012.

While there are many events with writers I will enjoy discovering, here are a few of the events that I am specifically looking forward to at the festival this autumn:
Ottawa Premiere of Midnight’s Children Screening and on-stage conversation with Deepa Mehta at the Empire 7, Wednesday, October 24, 2012 7:30pm

Ms. Mehta fascinates me. I saw a documentary where she talked about her film Water & I was rapt. I have seen a few of her films & enjoyed them. Much to my disgrace, I have not yet read Rushdie's novel or any of his work, but this should make a fine intro. The description sounds enthralling. I saw Mehta's adaptation of Carol Shield's the Republic of Love. It is my opinion that Mehta is exceptional at novel to screen adaptations. I'm pleased that the festival is able to be very creative & stretch the limits of what your typical literary festival might offer. I'm going to be interested to hear what Mehta has to say about her experiences in film, particularly with the adaptation of this novel.
This means, of course, that I will miss the Ottawa Book Awards and ARC's Archibald Lampman Poetry Award taking place way out in Orleans at the Shenkman Centre at 8pm. I admit that I am not overly enthused with this location. If it ain't downtown, it doesn't interest me. However, I am rooting for all three of my amigos Sandra Ridley, Michael Blouin & rob mclennan for the Lampman Award & Shane Rhodes for the Ottawa Book Award. I love it when a poet wins an award dominated by fiction. It feels subversive somehow.

Obviously, I'm looking forward to this one. No further comments are necessary really; however, I will say that the host is beautiful, sexy & intelligent (ahem). More importantly, Neil Gerster's music will be enjoyable. At our summer reading he performed exquisitely on the ukulele & his lyrics contained references to literature, which was great fun. He has a lovely voice & a great demeanour. rob mclennan will be launching his chapbook, Miss Canada (international), a kind of sequel to his Corrupt Press "Miss Canada" chapbook. We will hear from this year's honourable mentions and winner. All of us will remember & celebrate the brilliant poetry of John Newlove, as we do every year. I hope you will help us celebrate, not only John Newlove, but also Bywords as we complete our tenth year. I'm always  so pleased that the festival includes us in their program. It's an honour to be included. Hope to see you there.

CBC All In A Day Songwriters' Circle with Alan Neal, Friday, October 26, 2012
I always enjoy this event. I am a regular listener to All In A Day. Alan Neal always curates a fine collection of musicians, some of whom I've heard of, but many I haven't. As of this blog entry, we don't know yet who the musicians will be. Exciting!

Ok, I admit that I loved the band Moxy Fruvous. They had intelligent & hilarious lyrics, & they even had a song which mentioned Robertson Davies, my favourite novelist, so how could I not be intrigued? Also, I am a sporadic but loyal listener to the CBC Radio Show Q, which Ghomeshi hosts. In 1982 I was just finishing high school & starting at the University of Toronto's Victoria College. It was a frightening time. I wouldn't go back to that era for all the tea in my cupboards, but for Mr. Ghomeshi, I shall revisit. I look forward to his reminiscences of 1982, including the glitter. argh, the glitter.

Firstly I must say that I love Marcus McCann. He is a dear friend of mine & was part of my editing dream team, along with Nicholas Lea, Sandra Ridley, Pearl Pirie & Roland Prevost when we were in a poetry workshop together that some of us called Ampersand. His latest collection, the Hard Return, features poems I remember well from workshopping with him. I heard Matthew Tierney read at the festival before & immediately bought both his books. I have never heard of Ms. Matuk, but her poetry collection sounds delightfully absurd. I always enjoy Plan 99 in large part because of host David O'Meara, who is not only handsome but intelligent. When he hosts a reading, he masterfully keeps it to one hour. No more. I like that in a host. No rambling. No sycophantic intros. Some intro, but no fawning.

I have a sweet old-fashioned crush on the handsome & talented Steven Heighton. I am very fond of his fiction & I look forward to an opportunity to hear him read & to watch him from across the room. I keep meaning to read Miranda Hill's work, so now I finally get the chance to hear her read. I enjoyed Nadine McInnis' last poetry collection & am looking forward to hearing her read from her short fiction. Also this event is hosted by the dashing & talented Stephen Brockwell. His introductions, like David O'Meara's when he hosts at the festival, are legendary essays that should be published. Plus there is something intriguing about the idea of a poet, and I consider Stephen to be a poet's poet, hosting a fiction event. Of course, dear Stephen is brilliant & has  hosted events on scientific topics with intelligence & panache.

Relit Awards: Ideas Not Money, Monday, October 29, 2012
Note that this event is taking place at Octopus Books' new location at 251 Bank, not in the crowded store in the Glebe…so that makes more sense. I always enjoy these awards, mainly because of all the books the organizer of the event, Ken Harvey throws out into the audience. A couple of my pals are shortlisted; other than that I'm torn because while I dearly want Sandra Ridley to win for Post-Apothecary, I would be very excited to meet Joel Thomas Hynes, whose Straight Razor Days is also up for poetry. It's his fiction that turns me on so far…

When he was in Ottawa, Spencer was part of my fiction workshop group along with rob mclennan, Kate Heartfield, Steve Zytveld and Emily Falvey. I remember being blown away by how excellent & unique his short fiction was. After he left, I invited him to be part of the first issue of You can read his story, "Tired But Always Thinking, Thinking,' in the pdf. Spencer dazzled me with his talent & skill.  I look forward to seeing what five years has done to his writing. Anton Piatigorsky gave a talk at the Writers Festival  on plays a number of years ago & it was brilliant. He was mesmerizing. I look forward to hearing him read. I don't know Barry Webster at all, but am looking forward to being introduced to a voice I haven't heard before.

Thanks once again to the Ottawa International Writers Festival for putting together an exciting and varied program. It's a great opportunity to reconnect with friends & be introduced to new (to me) authors & their intriguing books. You can buy tickets and passes here.


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