This weekend was my first time attending the biannual Ottawa Small Press Book Fair – and it was a blast.
On Friday, my fiancée and I went to the fair’s preview reading at the Carleton Tavern. It was great to see my old Kingston writer-in-arms Michael Casteels and listen to some of his new poetry. As always, his reading was excellent. If you’re interested in poems that are equal parts hilarious and thoughtful, check out Michael’s work and his publishing company, Puddles of Sky Press.
I was blown away, though, by the reading from Kanina Dawson from her new book of poetry, Masham Means Evening (Coteau Books). Each poem in the collection presents a different story that Dawson collected during her time with the Canadian military in Afghanistan, with a talented style that is gripping, emotional and plainly honest. The fact that these stories come from people that lived and died through the Afghanistan conflict, and that the collection is about them, not the war per se, makes it all the more excellent.
The book fair itself on Saturday was really neat. I was surprised by how many varied and interesting small press publishers were present with their works. It was great to have the opportunity to meet some new writers and chat about their work, as well as make a list of some new places to submit my work and even collect a few teaching resources. If you’ve never been to the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair, and you’re a writer in or around Ottawa, you definitely need to attend!