This week has been absolutely NON-STOP. Perhaps my favourite part of it was attending a reading/interview/book signing of Michael Ondaatje’s at the Harbourfront Centre.
I went with my cousin, who is probably the BEST person I could go with. She really gets me, probably because she’s also a writer. We can talk about books and intellectual nerdy things one second and then go right into boys, clothes, or family. I love that about hanging out with her. Anyways, we got to the event early and took our seats amongst a very old crowd of people – I don’t mean to sound rude but I was stunned at how old everyone was. I think of the 250 occupied seats 4 or 5 people were under the age of 50, my cousin and I couldn’t believe it, but oh well.
We sat in the front row and noticed a chair at the far corner of the stage with a picture a of young women on it. We were later told that during each event at the International Festival of Authors, a chair with the picture of a writer that has been exiled or imprisoned for their writing, for their journalism, for their WORDS, would be placed on the stage. This is all apart of the PEN Canada movement, you can read about it here. I got goosebumps when listening to how these writers and journalists are put into prison and exiled for their words. Not only that but some of them are given less than an hour a day in the fresh outdoors, they aren’t permitted to write, read, or even enter the prison’s library. If that isn’t hell then I don’t know what it.
After a brief introduction, Michael Ondaatje and his interviewer came on stage. His readings were incredibly powerful and I wish I had a notebook with me so that I could have written down some of his one-liners. He mentioned something along the lines of art being an escape. How true that is for me. Writing allows me to escape from everything and yet learn so much about myself and the world around me. After the reading and interview, I got my copy of The Cat’s Table signed – I was absolutely star struck. Seriously, my knees were buckling and my hands were clammy. I was even making my cousin nervous! I brought him a copy of my book My Pen, My Voice and he was nice enough to accept it, in fact he said “I’d love to have it” – AHHH ! I wonder if he will read it!
It was amazing to see a humble, powerful, and established Canadian writer.
If anyone out there has a favourite author I encourage you to go to one of their readings.
It’s great to hear the voice behind the pen – who knew Ondaatje has an English accent, anyways?– Love Always Vanessa Xo