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Thursday, 17 September 2009
... and here's the shirt!

They came in this afternoon. The front's printed with the Writers Festival logo, and the back has the cover of the book, with the date and our slogan (Canada's Festival of Ideas Since 1997.) I love it. I really hope he signs mine. Yes, I'm going a little teensy bit fangirl here. Whaddaya want, it's Nick f*cking Cave. You can get yours tonight at the show, or, if there are any left over, through PayPal on the Writers Festival website at some point next week. Or, call us. 



Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 2:27 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 16 September 2009
I'm pretty sure we couldn't have gotten away with this T-shirt...

The Festival's printing up T-shirts with the Canadian cover of The Death of Bunny Munro printed on the back, to sell tomorrow at the Nick Cave reading (and face it, we all wanted signed Nick Cave book tour shirts too.) The Canadian cover's pretty strange, but it'll make for an interesting shirt...

But something tells us we couldn't have pulled this off with the Australian cover... especially since we wanted to have one for Sean and Kira's four-year-old Aidan. Oh, no. No no. Although, someone should do it. They really should.

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 5:18 PM EDT
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Thursday, 3 September 2009
The Schedule, Ah Me, The Schedule

Once the schedule for the Festival goes live, it really feels like things are in full swing. And I start getting all excited. It's like getting all your brand new school supplies in the fall, you can't wait to start using that shiny new protractor and compass and all those colour-coded notebooks. Or was that just me?

Anyway, with all the stuff coming up in September and October before the Festival even gets rolling, I know I shouldn't be focussed too much on the Festival itself, but I can't help it. 

I want to see the first poetry cabaret, with Sina Queyras, Colin Morton, Christian Bok and Paul Durcan. I'm kicking myself that I'll be visiting schools with kids authors and won't be able to attend the session on writing for graphic novels with Mariko Tamaki, Apostolos Doxiadis and David Small. I wish I could have had Tamaki as part of the kids program with her teen graphic novel Skim. Apostolos Doxiadis (yeah, you may never have heard of him) has written a graphic novel about the history of logic, Logicomix, which reminded me in spots of Neal Stephenson. And David Small's memoir, Stitches, is ... brilliantly drawn (the art is spectacular) and twitchily uncomfortable. Take the worst, creepiest, most Oatesian childhood you can think of, and then set it in Detroit. Awesome stuff. 

And I am SO there for the panel on 'Cycling and the Livable City' with David Byrne (yup, that David Byrne) and Jeb Brugmann, and representatives from BIXI and the NCC. That one I have a personal vested interest in, being a cyclist. (And I want to blog about it at my other blog, The Incidental Cyclist.) 

Karen Connelly and Zoya Phan - another one I want to catch but will be at schools. Augh! Zoya Phan, in case you don't know of her, was the young Karen refugee who made the news by giving an impromptu, moving speech on the BBC when she was picked out of the crowd at a 'free Burma' march. She went on to become International Coordinator of the Burma Campaign UK. 

"The Mathematics of Creativity" - I'll have to skip the other David Small event to sit in on this one, but man, having Christian Bok and Apostolos Doxiadis talking about math and creativity - maybe I'm weird but that turns my crank. 

I always miss the Masterclasses because they happen during the day, but on the weekends I can go, so I can go to the one about editing and rewriting with Barry Callaghan. I've been wanting to see the Festival do a Masterclass on editing for a while. 

Oh, and I want to see the Short Story Cabaret, and I think there's something to be said for meeting Bram Stoker's great-grand-nephew or whatever he is, and Ian Rankin's sure to be a hit, and then there's Ottawa's apparently insatiable interest in Penguin's Extraordinary Canadians lineup. And there's Transgress, and the New Islamic Fiction spotlight... and then I also get to spend the mornings visiting schools with people like Matthew Skelton and Arthur Slade (who writes steampunk for the 8-12 set, how cool is that?)

Bah - check it out and see for yourself...

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 2:00 PM EDT
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Friday, 28 August 2009
Farewell to Reading Rainbow
Mood:  sad

I found out through the airwaves this afternoon that Reading Rainbow's going to be closing up shop. That makes me sad, partly because I loved the show so much as a kid - I especially loved, and still remember, the kids doing their own book reports.

What also worries me is this article, and the sense I get that the focus has changed for children's programming - that a show like Reading Rainbow, that shows you why you would want to read and even teaches you to think critically about books, would get canned in favor of a show that teaches technical things like phonetics. You can drill a child all you want on phonetics and letter recognition. That will NOT cause her to want to read, or to enjoy it. There's so much shit in children's programming - as there is in children's publishing - that it's particularly disheartening to see a really good show like this one go under. 

There's a Twitter hashtag to try and keep the show going on the web - #SaveReadingRainbow. If you're on The Twitter. I'm not personally, but the Writers Festival is (dragging me along with it naturally.)

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 1:04 PM EDT
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Friday, 21 August 2009
The Writer's Almanac

Sorry, I've been busy with my other blog endeavour lately... but I did want to post this link. I found this - The Writer's Almanac, from National Public Radio - via a few scattered quotes and emails, and I've been getting their newsletter ever since. It's a very Garrison Keillor sort of way to start the day (and if you don't know who Garrison Keillor is, look him up: his show A Prairie Home Companion is one of the formative elements of my childhood.)

The nice thing about it is getting a poem a day, and a reminder that it's, say, the birthday of Ted Hughes or the anniversary of the publication of Ulysses or what have you. It's, um, genteel.

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 5:05 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 21 August 2009 5:10 PM EDT
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Thursday, 13 August 2009
Where I Write. Dot Com.

Some more of the strangeness of the web - here's a page that simply shows you a series of photos of SF and fantasy authors in their creative spaces. 

There's something kind of interestingly - cohesive? - about these spaces, and I think I need to sit back and look through them to pin it down. (Samuel R. Delany, however, is a whole other ball of wax, but then that's to be expected. I'm also fascinated by Harry Harrison's tiny little exposed desk in what looks to be a main hallway. Odd.)

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 4:42 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Agitate - OutWrite

I'm passing on the word because the last Agitate event I went to for Pride was awesome.

Agitate! presents...
OutWrite! - queer/trans/two-spirit writers of colour and indigenous writers refuse to be written out!

Thursday, August 20th, doors open at 6:30 pm, reading at 7 pm
Montgomery Legion Hall, 330 Kent St, near Somerset
wheelchair accessible
Tickets at the door: $10-20 sliding scale
all ticket proceeds to Migrants' Trade Union of South Korea

Agitate! presents an exciting reading event and panel of writers and poets in celebration of Pride. Often writers of marginalized identities face
challenges in presenting and publishing their own points of view coupled with the threat of their voices being tokenized and co-opted in the process. Featuring both emerging and established writers from Ottawa and beyond, this panel will explore issues of representation, intersectionality and how identity and experience are expressed in the writers' craft.

Nalo Hopkinson
Trish Salah
Kalyani Pandya
Rob Friday

Additional reading performances by:
Salimah Valiani
Faye Estrella

This event will also be a fundraising effort for the Migrant Trade Union
(MTU) in South Korea. MTU is a union of documented and undocumented migrant workers in South Korea, the only union of its kind in the world today. The MTU has joined in the struggle of GLBT people in South Korea, including defending the needs of its own GLBT members. Agitate feels it is important to connect our work with the struggle of other racialized people in the world, especially as the rights of migrant workers in Canada continue to be largely ignored.

Agitate! is an Ottawa-based collective of queer indigenous women, mixed race women and women of colour. For more information, please contact

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 8:03 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 11 August 2009 8:05 PM EDT
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Monday, 10 August 2009
...and my inner word nerd smiles...

... Cory Doctorow used the word "suasion" on Twitter today. In a post having to do with a parent who objected to his book Little Brother - not because of the teen protagonist's attempts to subvert homeland security, not because of the explicit descriptions of torture, no. Because of the off-camera loss of virginity. Then he couldn't respond to the parent because of a school firewall that blocked anything with the word 'sexual' in it.

So, yeah, all that too. But I was jazzed that he used the word 'suasion.' On Twitter. Which is usually so jammed with #s and shorthand it's bloody unreadable. 

Oh, yeah, and there's something kind of iffy about a school that won't allow the word 'sexual.' Isn't school supposed to be where we all get The Talk these days?

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 12:59 PM EDT
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More on colour
This post on Alas, A Blog fires another salvo in the whole racefail argument I've been vaguely tracking, and does it in a really clear way. Reminds me of Ursula Le Guin's complaint when she spoke here in the spring, about the editions of A Wizard of Earthsea that made Ged (described in the book as a reddish sort of guy) blond and blue-eyed...

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 12:44 PM EDT
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Sunday, 9 August 2009
More on sequels

Following up on that earlier post about sequels to established classics - I've run across an interesting article about J.D. Salinger's lawsuit to try and block the publication of a book called 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye.

The description from the article: "There is no question that "60 Years Later," written by Swedish humorist Fredrik Colting under the pen name "John David California," is based on "Catcher in the Rye." The hero, Mr. C., is clearly the alienated teenager Holden Caulfield, now an old man (who leaves a retirement home to go to New York, echoing Holden's flight from boarding school). A few other characters from the Salinger novel also appear, along with original ones - and with Salinger himself. Indeed, on the copyright page, the book is described as 'An Unauthorized Fictional Examination of the Relationship Between J. D. Salinger and his Most Famous Character.'"

The article looks at what, if anything, is the point of some readings of copyright law - should you be able to block the publication of a book like Wide Sargasso Sea? - and also talks about the importance of borrowing in creativity (in much the same way as Cory Doctorow talks about inviting his readers to remix and remake his work: he says that art that's not meant to be transformed is just plain outdated in this century.)

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 1:34 PM EDT
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