I’m home from the Galiano Literary Festival! I think I accidentally left my heart in Galiano though. (-:
Air travel aside, the trip to Galiano was extraordinary! I stayed at the beautiful Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa, which is also the venue for the festival. And a wonderful venue it was. The setting was so completely conducive to the festival. The food was exceptional. Saturday’s Author Dinner, though fully sold out, had a quaint and intimate feel to it. I suppose the grand picture windows looking out onto Sturdies Bay didn’t hurt the atmosphere of the dinner very much. There were several menu options for the gala dinner, but I went with the ravioli. Possibly the best ravioli I ever had.
What I enjoyed the most about the festival were the author readings. There was such a wide variety of authors to hear from. The poets on hand all blew me away. Each have left lasting impressions on me. Brad Cran and Amber Dawn both left me breathless. I had the near impossible task of picking up my heart from the roundhouse floor after sitting through Brad’s remarkably poignant and breathtaking words. And Amber’s readings were so incredibly authentic, wry, honest, brave and true. Simply hearing that raw authenticity in one’s words spurs me on to try the same in my own work. She’s truly a fearless poet. If you ever get the opportunity to read either Brad Cran or Amber Dawn, don’t pass it up.
All three of the Bowerings in attendance were delightful. George is clearly a consummate bad boy of sorts, always cracking jokes, and having fun. I could see it being extremely easy to fall into his orbit…he seems a bit of a sorcerer of fun. George was also a knowledgeable and wonderful addition to the panel discussion on the future of the book, which he co-paneled with Jack Hodgins and Kathryn Para (Jack also read a wonderful piece from his Cadillac Cathedral). Thea Bowering and Marilyn Bowering both read at the festival as well…to the sheer delight of those in attendance.
I had yet to hear of Michael Christie prior to attending the festival. His IF I FALL, IF I DIE is now on my MUST READ list. Such a wonderful fiction on the trapping of agoraphobia. I was fascinated not only by the storyline itself, but also by the beautifully lyrical prose in which it was written. Sadly, Christie read from manuscript pages…so I will have to wait until early 2015 to read the novel. I found the pairing of Michael Christie with Michael Wuitchik to be perfect. Wuitchik read from My Heart is Not My Own, which I will be reading in the coming weeks. Since I’m so drawn to the African continent myself, I’m excited to read another work set there. Wuitchik’s novel is set both in Sierra Leone and Canada.
It seems there may have been two ‘scamps’ at the festival this year (George Bowering being the first). Grant Lawrence’s poignant readings from his ADVENTURES IN SOLITUDE hit me like Brad Cran’s poetry hit me. I found myself unsure of what emotion I was experiencing throughout the reading. He brought me close to tears at one moment and had me stifling laughter the next. Such a wild ride. He was clearly as much a character as was George Bowering. Thankfully, neither of the two thought to plan out a clandestine late night rendezvous to T.P. the inn. Or perhaps they did, but also realized everybody in attendance would easily pin the crime on them.
What I found uniquely wonderful about a few of the author readings were the presentations they gave surrounding their featured books. My two personal favourites were Chris Arnett‘s Two Houses Half Buried in Sand presentation and Aaron Chapman‘s remarkable presentation of his book Liquor, Lust & the Law. Seeing those two presentations gave me so many insights into West Coast life. Chapman’s talk opened my eyes to an amazing B.C. nightclub staple I previously knew nothing about. The Penthouse Nightclub saw the likes of Sammy Davis Jr, Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington on its stage. Not to mention such clientele as Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn and Frank Sinatra. The presentation was riveting…a perfect closer for the festival.
For the writers attending the festival, there were a few workshops to choose from on the Saturday of the festival. The inclusion of writing related workshops in a predominantly readercentric festival was a stroke of genius. I thoroughly enjoyed both Joelle Anthony’s writing with sensory detail workshop and Linda L. Richards’ idea mining workshop.
This was the 5th annual Galiano Literary Festival. Now would be the time to mark your calendars for next year’s event. It truly is a must-see Canadian Lit-Fest. So worth the trip across the country to see. And Galiano Island isn’t too shabby either. I find some time between events to sneak out with my camera and capture some of the breathtaking sights.
The folks at Galiano Island Books were incredible…their dedication to Canadian literature is awe-inspiring. I used to think there was no bookstore on earth as supportive and nurturing to the written word and its architects as Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ontario. I discovered this weekend that this is not the case at all. I now have two favourite bookstores. So what if neither of them are walking distance from my home in Toronto…they both have the perfect model for what an independent bookstore SHOULD be. They both are entrenched in the community in which they serve and they both celebrate the wares they so obviously adore. To find the perfect bookstore is to discover happiness for the first time. To find two perfect bookstores? Well, that’s just divine providence. I know I will be back to both.