“Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know.”
? John Keats
If the 19th century romantic poet John Keats were alive today and living in the National Capital Region, he would almost certainly be going to the annual Wakefield-La Pêche Writers Festival this coming weekend in Wakefield, Quebec.
From May 8-10, literary lovers can enjoy great writing, fun music and drinks in a series of events that will feature English and French authors, a pub crawl, a focus on young authors and an evening filled with jazz.
“The Wakefield-La Pêche Writers Festival provides the perfect opportunity for authors and readers of all ages to come together in a collaborative, educational and playful series of events,” says festival organiser Pauline M. Portelance in an email interview with Apartment613. “People can expect to discover local and regional authors, their talents and their works.”
The festival kicks off on Friday at 6:30 pm with a showcase of young poets and prose writers aged 10-14. Then on Friday evening, a pub crawl will ensue at three different drinking establishments, in which local writers Barbara Bond, Allegra McKenzie and Ray Verdonand will read from their work. Local musician and writer Phil Jenkins will host.
“We expect packed houses for this event,” says Portelance. “Beer, wine, music, readings and great fun.”
Saturday’s programme kicks off at noon at the Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa with a reading by three authors: critically acclaimed local Francophone writer Madeleine Lefebvre, two-time Ottawa Book Award winner Alan Cumyn, and award-winning fantasy author Charles de Lint. This will be followed by a couple of writing workshops.
The main event then takes place on Saturday evening, May 9, when CBC Ottawa radio host Alan Neal interviews award-winning authors Charlotte Gray and Sean Michaels. Both authors will also read from their works at this evening gala, which includes hors d’oeuvres and live music by the Gabbro Jazz Quintet.
“Charlotte Gray will talk about her new book on the Massey Murder, which occured 100 years ago,” says Portelance. “I can’t wait to hear about this and also we are excited to meet and hear Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels talk about his book Us Conductors. I believe that an actual Theremin [a real instrument that appears in Michael’s book] will be featured sometime during the Festival. . . . There will be food and drink and a great opportunity to meet the authors and other members like-minded members of the community. We had a sold out crowd last year.”
The festival wraps up on Sunday with a francophone event that is being presented in partnership with two francophone writers’ associations from the Outaouais, as well as Ottawa French radio station Unique FM.
“There will be slam poetry, storytelling, and readings by five local Québec and Ontario authors,” says Portelance. “Through the Festival we . . . want to build bridges among the anglophone and francophone communities in the whole area.”
The Wakefield-La Pêche Writers Festival runs from May 8-10. The youth writing showcase is free, while a hat will be passed around at the pub crawl and francophone event. The Saturday Brunch at the Wakefield Mill is $25, the workshops are $10 each and the Saturday evening gala is $20.