Thursday, October 05, 2006

festival notes, day four (or, the love that cannot be named...)

The John Newlove Award for Poetry was last night, hosted by Bywords mistress Amanda Earl [see her note on same here; another here], with a reading and chapbook launch by last year's winner, Melissa Upfold (you can get her chapbook through the website), music by Andrea Simms Karp and readings by the four honourable mentions (including Heather McLeod, Kathryn Hunt, myself and a woman I don't know), and winner Roland Prevost, with all also capping our readings with a piece or two by the late Saskatchewan poet (and Ottawa resident his last seventeen years) John Newlove. There was something extremely entertaining about not only Roland winning, but Heather being part of the mentions, considering they both took a poetry workshop of mine last fall; how cool is that? Roland is also responsible as web designer for the most recent issue of that Stephen Brockwell and I edit, with managing help from Vivian Vavassis. Since moving to Ottawa in 1989, there have been only a few significant new things that have really propelled parts of the Ottawa literary community, and two of them have been the ottawa international writers festival and what Amanda and Charles Earl (and crew) have done with their version of Bywords, founded in 1990 at the University of Ottawa by a group of students (including Steve Artelle) around Heather Ferguson (publisher of Agawa Press), Seymour Mayne and Gwendolyn Guth.

Later on, were readings by fiction writers Trevor Cole, Steven Heighton and Kenneth J. Harvey. For some reason, Harvey had his baseball cap on, and looked like every police sketch I've ever seen in a newspaper. After hearing him reading a third time in eight or so years, I really have to start reading his books; I like the way his fiction moves, and the way he reads. What's been taking me so long? Cole, the other night, invited me to send him some audio of me reading for his website of various Canadian authors, authors aloud; I think that's the fun of such events like this, that I didn't know such existed. I've always wondered if there were websites with CanLit audio...

After sending out the notice yesterday about Chaudiere Books and our first launch on October 26th, I've been getting dozens of the nicest email notes from various people wishing us the best of luck. How nice! No matter what folk tell you, there is support; people like the Earls are proof enough of that.

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