Archive for the ‘Stephen Henighan’ Category

Day Two of OIWF

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Here’s my second post from the Booklounge Insiders’ Blog about the Ottawa International Writers Festival.

I had a wonderful day at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on Sunday. At 2:00 p.m., Sarah Dearing chaired our panel on Canadian literature. Bill Gaston started things off with a wonderful reading from his new novel, The Order of Good Cheer. I read next. The crowd was very kind and laughed in all the right places. Then Stephen Henighan read from his book of essays, The Afterlife of Culture. With all four of us on the stage, Sarah Dearing posed questions to drive a discussion on the state and future of our literary culture. I was a little intimidated by the topic but the discussion flowed with several questions from the floor as well. After 90 minutes (that seemed more like a half hour), we moved to the foyer to sign our books.

After our session, literary comet Joseph Boyden, hot off of his Giller shortlisting, read from his new novel Through Black Spruce, to a packed house. CBC radio personality Laurence Wall adroitly moderated the session. Beyond the moving reading and insightful discussion, the highlight of the session had to be Joseph Boyden performing three different moose calls (I kid you not!). The line up at Boyden’s signing table after the session snaked around the foyer and almost certainly left him with a swollen pen hand.

The final session I attended brought together three amazing writers for a reading and discussion. South African Booker nominee Damon Galgut read from The Imposter, Amitav Ghosh read from his Booker nominated novel, Sea of Poppies, and then Kenneth J. Harvey read from his epic masterwork Blackstrap Hawco. What a thrill to hear these three celebrated authors.

I spent the evening choosing my selections for a reading I’m doing at the Ottawa Public Library tomorrow (Monday) and sifting through some great memories of a wonderful OIWF weekend.

Click here for a great photo shot by John MacDonald, an Ottawa-based freelance shooter who also writes.


My first Ottawa International Writers Festival

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

I wrote this blog post for the Booklounge.ca Insiders’ Blog and thought I might as well cross-post it here.

Appearing at readings and writers’ festivals is still a new and wondrous experience for me, as is bearing the surreal label of “writer.” If you’d have told me six months ago that this past weekend I’d be reading and on a panel, as a “writer”, at the Ottawa International Writers Festival, I’d have suggested reassessing your medication. Yet here I am.

I arrived in Ottawa by train on Saturday and met fellow writer and panelist Stephen Henighan, author of The Afterlife of Culture. Good guy. Smart guy. We checked in at the Delta and then headed over to the National Archives building a couple of blocks away on Wellington Street where the festival has been unfolding all week. We made it in time for a a reading and discussion with prolific writer Bill Gaston, Giller-winning novelist David Bergen, and the much celebrated author Rawi Hage recent recipient of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. What a line-up. These wonderful writers read powerful pages from their new novels. To coin a phrase, “the audience was listening.”

After the session, Stephen and I helped ourselves to some dinner laid on for festival staff and authors. I learned that tofu can actually look exactly like beef bourguignon and I was reminded why I remain an inveterate meat-eater. I’m looking forward to our panel discussion on Sunday afternoon. Stephen Henighan, the aforementioned Bill Gaston and I will each read from our books, and then we’ll be led in discussion by award-winning novelist Sarah Dearing on the current state of Canadian literature. Yikes! I expect I’ll be doing a lot of sage head-nodding punctuated by the odd “agreed” and “exactly.” A friend has also suggested that I consider “steepling” my fingers in a thoughtful pose. Good advice. Stay tuned…