October 7, 2013

20 hours in Kingston

I think I left off of my trip recounting right around when I was running to catch the train to Kingston.  I made it in the nick of time, settled into a double seat by myself, ordered a coffee and ate the rest of my yummy mushroom risotto that I'd been too nervous to eat before my library event.  Then I read (and finished!) Skim on the way there and loved it so much. I wish I'd read it years ago!  

My train was almost an hour late, which meant getting to the hotel only around 9 p.m. --- too late to catch the event I'd hoped to see and too late to try to go to dinner. Instead I headed to the hospitality suite, which I was happy to find was very hospitable indeed: lots of yummy food and welcoming writers, including Lauren B. Davis, Marcello Di Cintio, and Corey Redekop (click through read about their own festival experiences!).   Before I turned in for the night, I also got to meet Shelagh Rogers in person! And as I wrote on Facebook (pretty much immediately) afterwards, any day with two hugs from Shelagh Rogers is basically awesome.

A welcoming flag at the hotel

Before my event the next day, I was able to catch the "You Are What You Read" session between Alberto Manguel and David Mason. It was hands down one of the very best (or maybe just most enjoyable?) events I have ever been to at a writers festival. Maybe because it was a discussion between two fanatical book lovers and collectors (David Mason is a writer as well as a preeminent rare book dealer), it got more to the heart of what I care about than the usual discussions about writing. For one it made me feel better about my own (problematically large number of) books, as well as my sentimental attachment to them and my desire to shelve them in idiosyncratic and biographical ways. And my inability to get rid of any of them, even the ones I dislike.

Alberto Manguel talked about how he now seems to interpret the world through the lens of Alice in Wonderland --- a situation to which I keenly relate. David Mason also told the story of a family that required all of their houseguests to read The Wind in the Willows when they came to stay. He said that it wasn't a matter of what they would think of the book...but of how the book would judge them. (I love this idea.) And this was just a small sample of the kind of conversation between these passionate book lovers. 

Look who's on the poster!
 (Clearly it pays to have a good photo...)

My event with Wayne Grady on Saturday afternoon was well attended and it was nice to hear the opening of Emancipation Day in his voice. For one thing, he made it funnier in his reading than I'd gathered just from the page. 

The audience was very warm, and the questions were interesting. The very first gentleman who stood up, though, seemed to have a question about why the "races" included in the event were non-white ones...but it was hard to tell what he was really asking as everyone immediately went to cut him off. I was interested in responding (or at least finding out what it was that he was going to say), but I wasn't given the opportunity. The general feeling in the room was one of alarm and expected offence, and although it is certainly possible that he was about to steer the conversation into terrible waters, I didn't actually get that sense from him. Oh well. 

After the event, I was lucky enough to meet my author patrons (two representatives from a Montreal firm who had contributed to the festival by sponsoring an author.) They were two lovely gentlemen, and I hope I can get a hold of the photos we took and post them here with everyone's permission. Even before we were introduced, I had noticed them in the audience -- giving me good vibes! I am always looking for friendly faces in a listening crowd and it is so much appreciated when I find some.

One of my favourite things at the festival was the Poem of the Day provided by my former Freehand-mate and Writersfest Writer-in-Residence Jeanette Lynes. Here's one from Sunday. I snapped a pic after my event and book signing when I ran out to spend an hour on Princess St. before catching the train home. 

Fresh poetry from Jeanette Lynes

Kingston: short but sweet and very fun! Next up, Victoria and Vancouver!


Anonymous said...

I'm so jealous! It sounds like you had a wonderful time. I've never been that far North, but I can imagine the weather was perfect for the event and the city, beautiful. What's Princess St.? Sounds intriguing.

saleema said...

Princess Street is just the main drag of K-town! We were definitely lucky with the weather...I wonder how much longer this freaky global-warming fall can last.