Day Two is now winding down for WordFest 2012, as the Wednesday Night Showcase patrons file out of the Vertigo and into what I believe are the snowy streets of Calgary. It’s been quite a busy evening, and I suppose when one considers the mandatory stop at the hospitality suite, it isn’t quite over either.
The night got started in the Vertigo Theatre at 5:00PM with Name Your Sources, with Julie Wilson, Rachel Wyatt, Deni Bechard, and Russel Wangersky. Following a brief reading from each author, Marcello Di Cintio led a discussion about each author’s inspirations and motivations for writing their stories. With authors of four very different books, the audience was treated to a very interesting discussion. I have to say this is exactly my type of event. Yes, there is the reading, which can really be entertaining, but at the end of the day, it’s the discussion of the writing that I enjoy so much. To hear accomplished authors talking about how they put their story or their book together, is really interesting.
However, I ran into one of the classic WordFest dilemmas…there was another event I needed to be at. Well, wanted to be at anyway. A cocktail reception was being host upstairs from the Vertigo Studio from 5:30 until 7:00, which causes a pretty big conflict with an event running from 5:00 to 6:30. Suddenly I felt like Alex P Keation in that episode of Family Ties, when he had two dates to the prom. But unlike Alex, I didn’t have Skippy at my side, helping me manage such a hectic and demanding schedule.
Reluctantly, I left Name Your Sources early, and headed to the cocktail reception, where I wasn’t able to enjoy as much cheese as I’d have like, probably because I had downed so much chicken in the hospitality suite at the Westin an hour before. I call this the ‘moocher’s dilemma.’ When confronted with free food, you must decide whether to take enough food to fill you up but risk being unable to east anymore if another opportunity arises, or leave enough room for more food but risk the chance that there might not be any more that night. Quite the dilemma. And invariably, I always get while the gettin’ is good, and find myself too full at the next opportunity; just as I did tonight.
But the party was still quite enjoyable and I was able to talk with the poet Jaap Blonk, whose event earlier in the day I unfortunately wasn’t able to make. He’s making his second trip to Calgary (the last was in 1994), and his first trip to Banff, from which he’s planning on bussing to Vancouver by way of Kelowna, for his first trip across the Rockies and BC. Hearing him talk about the sights he’s excited to see, reminds me of what wonderful landscapes we have at our doorsteps, and so often take from granted.
Following the cocktail party, which as all do, ran a little late, we filed into the main theatre at Vertigo, for the first of three nightly showcases. The Wednesday edition featured David Bergen, Steven Heighton, Vincent Lam, Pasha Malla, Susan Swan, and Karen Thompson Walker, each reading from their latest book. Not having read any of their books, the readings are sort of like a tasting for me. I get a small sample, to see if I want to read some more, which I think I almost always do, probably because hearing an author read from their own book makes me feel close to the author and the book, and makes me think that perhaps I’ll enjoy it more because of that. Particularly intriguing tonight was Pasha Malla, reading from his latest book, People Park. It wasn’t so much that his book interests me (not to say that it doesn’t!), but rather it’s because he was such an engaging person. His reading, filled with his own remarks about his work and the world in general had the audience in stitches, and I’m sure led to a lot more people picking up a copy than had planned to before the night began.
Now I head back to the Westin to visit the hospitality suite and hopefully find some time to chat with the very authors I just saw present. Hopefully it doesn’t take me too long to get there, as I understand it might be snowing, but since I’ve been in the bowels of the Vertigo four almost five hours, I really have no idea!