Always Bring Your Wallet to a Reading

It’s been a while since I’ve had as much fun at a reading as I had on Friday.

As I posted previously, this past Friday was the next installment in the Factory Reading Series, as a pre-launch for the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair. To begin, I have to say that all five readers were really good at the act of reading alone – which is rare. Usually there’s at least one person that doesn’t seem comfortable, or is reading to an audience for the first time – which is tough, believe me – but the readers Friday night all seemed like naturals. Especially surprising was poet Jennifer Baker, who not only read first but totally killed it, despite being a relative newcomer to the literary scene. A few brief thoughts:

  • Having just read Anita Dolman’s story “Handcrafting” in On Spec, it was a weird coincidence for her to be part of Friday’s ensemble. In addition to a short section from “Handcrafting,” Anita read some of her poetry, which was equally as good as her prose (though I’m more partial to the latter). I had a blast discussing On Spec, writing, and other stuff with her, and I’m seriously looking forward to whatever she publishes next – hopefully more spec fic!
  • David Currie was possibly the most entertaining reader of the night, to be expected given his background in theater. His chapbook Bird Facts reads like an encyclopedia, but with a humorous and ridiculous twist on each entry that had me in stitches. Though his final reading concerning a fake history of Judy Garland was a little over-the-top, the reading overall was quite entertaining.
  • And, of course, it was awesome to hear another reading from my friend Stuart Ross. If you have never been present for one of Stuart’s readings, you’re missing out. I could rave forever about both his prose and poetry – as I often do – but here I’ll simply say that there are so many reasons why Stuart Ross is a pillar of the Canadian literary scene. Read his stuff and you’ll immediately see why.

When faced with so many excellent writers, though, the challenge becomes not spending too much on the array of books that are available for purchase. Between the reading and the fair the next day, I definitely failed at that. But it was worth it to complete my collection of Stuart’s work, pick up a copy of Bird Facts, and gather a sampling of other works by various writers from Ottawa and beyond. I tried taking a photo holding what I bought, but my hand isn’t that big. Oh, well.

Overall, I think this season’s Ottawa Small Press Book Fair was a huge success. Many thanks to the wacky rob mclennan for putting it together, and to Friday’s readers for an excellent night.

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