It’s been another busy month for me, especially on the literary front, so I thought I’d give another little update. I’ve been reading a lot (partially due to the first item on this round up and partially due to receiving/purchasing new books), but I’ve also been participating in some other literary endeavours.
Ottawa Blogger Meetup
I started the month by meeting some lovely fellow book bloggers at the Ottawa Blogger Meetup. My friend and coworker Emilie of Emilie’s Book World told me about the meetup and I signed up not really knowing what to expect. BH&T is still a baby, so I haven’t really branched out much. It was a fun afternoon for sure. We met at a restaurant on the rainy afternoon of May first. We ate, chatted, and got a preview of some books coming out soon. We each also left with a big bag of new books (woo!) and book swag. To finish off the afternoon, a bunch of us headed over to Chapters to browse. With a full bag of new books and a large TBR list still on the go, I managed to refrain from buying anything new. All in all, I had a wonderful afternoon and I appreciated getting to hang out with some book nerds. Special thanks to Kathy of A Glass of Wine for organizing.
The following weekend I took a trip to Brampton for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). I had signed up to volunteer after Ryerson sent out some information and am I ever happy I decided to. Sure, I had to take a rather complicated journey to get there, but it was so much fun.
The FOLD was founded by author Jael Richardson and it is the first and only literary festival in Canada to focus on diverse authors and stories. Literary diversity is an important topic that I’m always looking to learn more about, so to be a part of it was both a learning opportunity and a treat. (Speaking of treats, they had a wonderful selection of snacks for volunteers.)
I volunteered at the information tent the first day I was there and at the breakfast event featuring Zarqa Nawaz, the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie. Everything went smoothly from my perspective, but I know the organizers were quite busy and put in a lot of hard work and effort to make everything happen – mad props to them. They were all very nice as well. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever been treated better as a volunteer. In addition to snacks and other food, they took the time to talk to me and discuss my experience and literary career goals which just made me feel very appreciated.
I also got to attend a few of the panels. I sat in on Defying Boundaries hosted by Zoe Whitall and featuring trans writer and activist Chase Joynt and multi-disciplinary artist and LGBTQ activist Vivek Shraya. All were delightful to listen to as they discussed artistic expression, various genres, and how we relate to one another. I immediately went to the book table to pick up some of the books discussed during the panel when it was over.
After that one I went to Growing Pains, a panel about the influence of music and culture on youth. It featured authors Carrianne Leung, Melanie Mah, and Dalton Higgins and was hosted by Jennifer Chambers, a writer and professor. What I thought was really cool in this panel was how it showed how universal music can be. Music, and the culture around it, was a thread in each of the authors’ works even though their books were unique from one another. Also, I don’t even really listen to Drake, but I’ve never been more interested in him than when Dalton Higgins was discussing him.
I helped set up the Spoken Word Showcase in the evening. I hadn’t packed a jacket for the day and was freezing in the square where the event was taking place. Luckily for me, I was invited to go have dinner at the Golden Stool with several of the authors, publishing folk, and organizers. It was so cool to listen to everyone discussing the festival and the industry and to have a chance to talk to people in various literary roles. I received some welcome career guidance (that it’s okay that I don’t know exactly what I want to do yet) and got to enjoy some delicious Afro-fusion food (I ate way too much). I did mean I didn’t get to hear any of the spoken word poets, but I suppose it was a fair trade-off.
Sunday’s breakfast was another great event. Narqa Nawaz gave a lot of insight into Little Mosque on the Prairie, which I liked since I’ve enjoyed the show. The conversation between Narqa and Jael was insightful and definitely made me think. For instance, Narqa recounted a story where she’d been told her book didn’t win an award because it was too happy. She pointed out that Muslim women’s stories are expected to be sad or about overcoming some kind of darkness, but that isn’t her story. This is something I’ve never thought of before, but when she said that no one would ever tell Tina Fey her book was too happy, it really struck me as true. Just one more reason we need diverse books – so no one has to fit their narrative into such a narrow framework.
I had to depart shortly after that to make my way back to Ottawa (after a stop in Peterborough for Mother’s day dinner). I left with four new books that I’m greatly looking forward to and an excitement that I got to be a part of the first FOLD event.
Ottawa Arts Review
Of course, OAR is ever-present in my life. I finished editing my interview with Obi Simic and published it at the beginning of the month. I also finished working with one of our readers, Kyla Heyming on a blog about overcoming book biases.
We also finalized all the details of the new issue and have been getting ready for print. We just received the proof, so as soon as I have the chance to confirm all is well, we’ll be ordering copies. Yay!
I have a bunch of blogging to do – I’ve read a bunch this month that I want to discuss and share. Between that and work, I’m doing another editing course with Ryerson (substantive editing).
I’ll also be helping out a bit at Prose in the Park, a literary festival happening right here in Ottawa. It promises to be a good time and if you’re interested, you should take a minute to check it out.
So yeah, I’m living a rather bookish life right now. Can’t really complain though.