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Prose in the Park is a fiction fan’s fantasy

By Sanita Fejzić on June 1, 2015

This coming Saturday, June 6, book lovers can enjoy a lovely day in the park filled with literary delights.

The first ever Prose in the Park will take place in Parkdale Park between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The outdoor event with tents will feature more than 150 Canadian authors (many of them local and more than 20% Francophone), 15 authors’ panels and special events, including an all-day open-mic stage. More than a dozen publishers and three independent bookstores will also participate.

“It is planned around the highly successful model of Word on the Street, which originated in Toronto and is now held in five Canadian cities, drawing in 50,000 people annually,” says Benoit Chartier, one of the event’s organisers, in an interview with Apartment613.  “We are expecting to draw at least 2,000 people in PiP’s inaugural year.  This will be roughly 300 people per hour during the seven hours of the event.”

Barbara Fradkin

Barbara Fradkin

Participating authors include:

  • Giller Prize Winner Vincent Lam;
  • Governor-General Winner Rosemary Sullivan;
  • Aurora Prize Winners Julie Czerneda and Hayden Trenholm;
  • Ottawa’s sci-fi award-winning author Charles de Lint;
  • Former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario and novelist James Bartleman; and
  • Ottawa’s own Barbara Fradkin, twice winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Crime Fiction

Sang Kim will be the master of ceremonies, while the moderators of different panels include Denise Chong (twice Governor General Award finalist); Susan Delacourt (Toronto Star) and local writer Kevin T. Johns (Write-Along-Radio).

Other writers based in the National Capital Region, meanwhile, include mystery writers Mike Martin, whose most recent book A Twist of Fortune Apartment613 will be reviewing this month, Mike Young, and Peggy Blair, author of the great Insp. Ramirez series, whose latest release Hungry Ghosts hits bookstores on Tuesday, June 2.

On the francophone side, the list is as also impressive:

  • Yves Breton – Lauréat du Prix Huguette-Parent pour son récit autobiographique et historique, Drôle de vie que voilà ! Pulsions
  • Nicole V. Champeau – Auteure de l’essai Pointe Maligne, l’infiniment oubliée. Présence française dans le Haut-Saint-Laurent ontarien, 2009
  • Gaston Tremblay – Auteur du roman Le Grand Livre, 2012
  • Lysette Brochu – Auteure du roman Brûlants secrets de Marianne, 2014
  • Jean Mohsen Fahmy – Lauréat du Prix France-Acadie 2014 pour sa série Les Chemins de la liberté
  • Blaise Ndala – Auteur du roman J’irai danser sur la tombe de Senghor, 2014

Prose in the Park is the brainchild of Ian Shaw, the president of Ottawa Independent Writers.

“There is something really magical about hundreds of authors, volunteers and organizers coming together to give birth to a new literary festival,” says Shaw in a media release.

Photo of Charles de Lint by  MaryAnn Harris

Photo of Charles de Lint by MaryAnn Harris

“What is really unique about Prose in the Park is that it is accessible to everyone.  It is 100% free, in a public park in a wonderful neighbourhood of the city and within a two-minute walk from restaurants, bakeries, ice-cream parlours, cafés and outdoors bars.  And you can listen to fascinating panels with established and emerging authors in both English and French.  How can you beat that?”

Chartier tells Apartment613 that Shaw has been working hard with other organisers to make this event a reality.

“It is very much a co-production among many diverse groups from across Ottawa and the region,” says Chartier.  “Yves Turbide, who is the president of l’Association des Auteures et Auteures de l’Ontario Français, will be bringing the francophone talent.”

Chartier then adds: “Personally, I’m excited to meet so many great authors and to do a public reading, outside, in the sun.  There’ll be something for everyone who is interested in culture, or the myriad aspects of literature.”

Prose in the Park takes place on Saturday, June 6 in Parkdale Park from 11 am to 6 pm.  Admission is free.

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