Kingston is a city of letters. As a friend of mine said the other day, you can’t spit in this town without hitting a poet. Whether you’re a fan of hocking literary loogies or not, there’s no better time than now to get your fill of your favourite authors: the annual Kingston WritersFest kicks off tonight and runs until Sunday afternoon. Last year’s lineup, which included heavyweights Margaret Atwood and my secret literary boyfriend Joseph Boyden, set the bar high, and while I may be biased, I’m pretty sure this year’s Fest is going to be pretty awesome too. Here are my top 5, must-see events at Kingston WritersFest 2010.
1. PQ’s People Mix It Up. A tribute concert for the late Canadian great Paul Quarrington, featuring music and performances by his band, Porkbelly Futures, as well as Dave Bidini, Dan Hill, Steve Heighton, and more. If you can think of a better way to spend a Wednesday night, I’d like to hear it.
Wednesday September 22, 7:30 PM, Grand Theatre.
2. Graphics Plus: The Story of Kenk. If you’re a fan of comics or cinema or criminals, Kenk is a must-read/must-watch kind of thing. It’s a comic, it’s a film, it’s the story of a truly wacky and insanely successful bike thief in Toronto, and it’s awesome. The team of writers, artists and filmmakers responsible for Kenk’s creation will be talking about the project on Thursday evening.
Thursday September 23, 7-8:15 PM, Ellis Auditorium, Queen’s.
3. The Secret Lives of Birds. I am probably betraying my secret birder identity here, but I don’t care. Birds are amazing, and author Bridget Stutchbury knows it. Her two books, Silence of the Songbirds and The Bird Detective, explore everything you’ve wanted to know about birds but were afraid to ask, from the environmental conditions that affect decreasing avian populations and the consequences this might have on all of us, to the mating rituals of our feathered friends (scandale!!). I defy you not to be amazed.
Friday September 24, 9-10 AM, Holiday Inn Waterfront.
4. The Age of Persuasion with Terry O’Reilly. You might be familiar with Terry O’Reilly’s voice from his brilliant and hilarious take on the world of advertising on his weekly CBC show, Age of Persuasion. (And if you missed him filling in for Jian Ghomeshi on Q, you must track down his interview with Hugh Hefner.) Now’s your chance to see him in person, and while I always find it a little bizarre to put a face to the voices I hear on my radio, I’m willing to take the chance of being weirded out to hear what he has to say.
Saturday September 25, 3 PM, Davies Hall, St. Lawrence College.
5. Cook Not Mad Sunday Brunch. I know I’m not the only foodie out there, and I hope I’ll meet the rest of my famished brethren while eating a brunch devised by Dorie Greenspan, cookbook author extraordinaire, and James Chatto, who is, among many other things, part of the brains behind the deliciousness that is the LCBO Food and Drink magazine. SWOON. And there’s wine tasting!
Sunday September 26, 11 AM, Holiday Inn Waterfront.
Even if none of those events tickle your fancy, there are so many more writers to choose from, including fantasy kingpin Guy Gavriel Kay, Newfoundland’s treasures Lisa Moore, Michael Winter, and Kathleen Winter, and Joyce Carol Oates (omg omg omg), in conversation with Jane Urquhart on Friday night (did you hear that? It was the sound of my heart exploding). For the full program and ticket information, visit kingstonwritersfest.ca. And if you’re at the festival and see, oh, I don’t know, Joyce Carol Oates lining up for a bathroom stall, hop on Twitter and share! Just include the #kwf2010 hashtag on your tweet and then sit back and watch as Kingston takes the virtual literary world by storm.