This year I noticed that there were was a greater sense of cohesion, thematically speaking, of panelists than in previous years. I can honestly say that there was no one event where I was left thinking, that this person did not 'fit in' to the group on stage. Each guest speaker and performance not only brought a sense of their literary works to life, but also an enthusiasm which entertained the audience thoroughly from start to finish.
In previous years of the festival, I have been invited up to the hospitality suite as a kind gesture by the organizers. But each time I politely refused in the belief that I was a 'just an audience member'. I asked myself, 'How could I fit in amongst the invited authors?' This year, however, I decided to accept the invitation should I receive it again. And I did. Gratefully.
I told my wife long in advance that this writers festival would be taking some time out of the norm. I lifted the veil, as it were, and stepped across the threshold of room 817 on the first evening and never looked back. It was everything I imagined it to be and more. I did, on occasion, stay late into the wee hours to snap some candid photos, partake in the available party snacks, and chat with some of the authors. One memorable night early on, Max Middle and jwcurry coaxed Carmel, the stockmistress, to join in on a sound poetry performance that Middle and Curry and Jen Books performed the week before. I believe it sent the other authors present in the room reeling. It was an awesome moment, among others, to be in the suite and behind the scenes.
And this is only year nine of the event. Just wait till next year's decade anniversary of the Ottawa International Writers Festival! The plans are already underway, if you can believe it, and I cannot wait to see what the Wilsons have in store for us next year.
Derek poses momentarily before his recital on Glenn Gould's piano at the Library and Archives Canada auditorium. Yaple-Schobert is billed as "Canada's Ambassador of Scandinavian Music".
OWIF Director, Neil Wilson (middle) joins Derek and Hans prior to the Hans Christian Andersen Bicentenial illustrated lecture and recital.