Lunch with Will Ferguson

For the past month or so, I’ve been writing about WordFest; what events I was planning on attending, which artists I was going to see and so forth. But in the back of my mind, I was always a little unsure of what exactly I would be involved in. It wasn’t that I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy myself or anything like that, nor was I worried I wouldn’t find it interesting or educational. It was more like flying an airplane through heavy fog. You’re pretty sure where you’re headed and you aren’t really worried about hitting anything, but you can’t see exactly where you’re going.

But that’s all changed now, as today at noon, the fog lifted so to speak. I headed down to the Auburn Saloon to attended ‘Lunch with Will Ferguson,’ the opening event of WordFest 2011. Of course, it wasn’t without a couple of rookie mistakes. While I was attending an event entitled, “Lunch with Will Ferguson,” for some reason I had it in my mind that lunch, in this instance, was merely a euphemism for “Event that Takes Place at Noon hour.” Naturally, I decided to stop and scarf something down as fast as I could moments before the event was to begin. Little did I know that in this case, lunch did in fact mean, lunch. As people began taking their seats, they all perused the menu, deciding between what looked to be a large variety of delicious dishes, while a lamented how full I was. My education continues.

Calgary’s own Will Ferguson took to the stage to a chorus of cheers and applause, ready to talk about his newest book Canadian Pie. With his affable personality and flair for comedy, Ferguson began and, almost immediately, had the audience laughing out loud, and kept them doing so for the duration of the event. The Auburn Saloon was a perfect venue, offering not only a great location downtown, but also a nice, casual atmosphere, which lent itself well to the event’s feel. I also enjoyed seeing people kicking off WordFest with a pint of beer or a glass of wine, despite it being before noon on a Tuesday. Or in the case of the table across from me, several pints of beer.

Canadian Pie is a collection of stories from Will Ferguson’s 15 year writing career, including original drafts of the Vancouver Olympics Closing Ceremonies, failed Soap Operas, and open letters to the people of Montreal from Calgary that infuriated Torontonians (is there anything better?). Besides sharing his writing with the audience, Ferguson also shared some of his experiences being a writer. For instance, he mentioned talking to morning radio hosts, who have never read the book he’s promoting and whose knowledge of him and his work comes solely from the back cover. Hard to believe someone would stoop to that level. By the way, I should mention Canadian Pie is “Will Ferguson at his high-flying best!”

I think it should also be noted that as I write this, I am sitting in WordFest’s secret command center, somewhere in Hotel Le Germain. I have the opportunity to test something Ferguson talked about today; the mini-bar. He spoke of finding the standard items in every mini-bar, like a small can of Pringles, cashews, and a bag of M&M’s. A quick check of the fridge here confirms his theory. But he also talked of usually finding something unique to that area, which he could use to orientate himself in the midst of a long book tour across the country. Smoked Salmon? You must be in Vancouver. In Saskatoon, you’ll find little jars of jam.

What's that peeking out from behind the cashews?!

Besides the standards, what unique items lie in the mini-bar here in Calgary? Well, another look reveals a couple of items discreetly tucked into the back of the cabinet. There’s a standard chap stick for protection from the dry Calgary winters, and an ‘intimacy kit’, which allows one to stay safe while still being sexy; the items Ferguson noted would be found in St. John’s and Montreal respectively. The safety of two cities in one mini-bar! I am proud to be a Calgarian.

My next event will be ‘In Conversation with Chris Turner’ at the Vertigo Theatre, this afternoon at 5PM.

Click here for photos from the event.


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Filed under 2011 Festival Blog, Behind the Scenes

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