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Monday, October 04, 2004

OIWF Day 6

Billed as an evening you won't soon forget, it was a special night at the Ottawa International Writers Festival. Exceding the organizers expectations the audience grew so fast that the venue had to be changed at the last minute to the larger auditorium down the hall. It amazes me that the troupe of Kira, Sean, Neil and Thea work so hard to put on a great show for the Ottawa people. They go the extra distance to ensure the best show possible. Their volunteers are a great help.

What a super line-up consisting of Paul Quarrington, Cordilia Strube and Alistair MacLeod. Deftly introduced and interviewed by Ottawa's Lucy van Oldenbarneveld of CBC Radio One, the event was everything one could expect in a reading: witty, touching, and entertaining. It didn't surprise me that immediately after the event a throng of people amassed at the book table to pick up, among other books, MacLeod's newest publication, To Every Thing There is a Season: A Cape Breton Christmas Story.

Instead of queuing in line, I decided to get a seat (read beer) in the other venue anticipating the last poetry cabaret of the festival. Hearing these authors was a first for me. Hosted by Stephen Brockwell, the evening's first poet was Eriling Friss-Baastad. He spoke passionately with an environmental bent of the Yukon; Shane Rhodes' poetry was lyrical and educational at the same time. Very good stuff. No wonder he is an Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry winner (2003). Formerly from Calgary, Rhodes calls Ottawa his home for the past two years. We are lucky to have him here. Finally, Steven Heighton read well from his four sections of his book of poetry The Address Book. I picked up all the books from these authors including Patrick Lane's memoir.


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