amongst books

amongst books

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Three picks from the Ottawa International Writers Festival

One of the delights of an Ottawa springtime is the Ottawa International Writers Festival, which begins this Wednesday. You can go crazy trying to hit up all of the events, from the literary to the political, to the memoir to the science talks. I tend to focus on the literary and primarily the fiction because we’d have a  paucity of fiction events here in Ottawa, were it not for the festival. This is a great opportunity to hear new and established writers, chat them up, get copies of their books and hang about with fellow bibliophiles.

Here are three events I’m jumping up and down in my seat about:


I think I’ve been to every one of these and they always hold surprises. I discover new music and hear songs I  haven’t heard by some of my favourite musicians. The format is interesting. Alan usually has some sort of theme and picks singer/songwriters that fit within the theme. There’s a lot of conversation and clips from interviews. This year the theme is Random Play with musical guests: CRAIG FINN of THE HOLD STEADY,  
ELLIOTT BROOD, ROSE COUSINS, BONJAY and ISKWE.


I have been a fan of Michael’s since I first read Cumberland, his novel set in Cornwall, Ontario, several years ago. I also enjoyed his second novel, Progress, and am looking forward to his memoir, My Body is Yours. Michael is a talented writer of both fiction and poetry and also a filmmaker

I just read Raziel Reid’s When Everything Feels Like the Movies this past winter and I found it to be heart-breaking, compelling and humorous.

Glenn Nuotio is one of my favourite people and I love his music.

I also feel that discussions surrounding gender identity, prejudice based on gender and sexual orientation are vital and I’m glad that these are being addressed at the festival through these fine works.

April 25, 6:30pm The Time to Make It Shorter with Mark Anthony Jarman, Steven Hayward, Heather O'Neill and Guy Vanderhaeghe

With all due respect to all of the writers at this event, the person I  am most looking forward to is Heather O’Neill. I have just devoured her second book, The Girl Who was Saturday Night; last winter I enjoyed Lullabies for Little Criminals, and have just started her short story collection, Daydreams of Angels. I love her writing, her characters, her descriptions of Montreal and her fancifulness. I like the fact that she writes about people who are treated as the dregs of society, petty criminals, drug dealers, fat old Russians, aging former Quebec musical icons, patients in mental hospitals, feral cats.




The Ottawa International Writers Festival Spring Edition takes place at Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Sparks Street from April 22 to April 28, 2015 and includes poetry, fiction, memoir, history, politics, science, music, food, laughter, mayhem, sweet smiles, awkward pauses, CBC hosts, Carleton and U of O students, workshops, glamourous outfits, Sean Wilson in a baseball cap and surprises…

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