Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The 21st Annual Saskatchewan Festival of Words

Thank you to everyone at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words! The festival ran from July 13-16 in Moose Jaw, and it was amazing! The festival is always great, but I think this was the best one yet. Exciting, thought-provoking, and so tuned in to the times. I feel so lucky to have been there. Hats off to the organizers, volunteers, authors, and performers! Cheers to the great audiences! Cheers to the funders! I attended as many readings, panels, and events as possible and met and reconnected with so many people. It was great.

And Bob Dylan was in Moose Jaw on Saturday! To mark the occasion I wrote an invocation and shared it at the festival:


O Bob Dylan, when you stop in Moose Jaw
on July 15, you will feel the heat
Saskatchewan keeps here. Listen in awe
to the aw in the name of the place. Sweet
voices of some of Canada’s finest
writers will raise the temperature downtown
even more. But who am I to suggest
you listen? It’s me who needs to hear. Clowns
like me are left right stuck in simple rhymes
while nobly you sing. Please help. I’m trying
to finish this sonnet. O help me climb
into a comfy couplet. This crying
won’t get me a selfie with you, will it?
I’m at the library. The name is Schmidt.

It didn't work.

Here's a sampling of what I did at the festival:

Writing in Troubled Times panel with Harold Johnson, Jael Richardson, Yann Martel, and Alanna Mitchell. Moderated by Angie Abdou. This was just one of the powerful panels I took in during the festival, every one of which filled the space. The audiences were great and totally engaged.   

At the Hyland Memorial Session on Friday morning, a session shared with Jim McLean, I shared memories and read a poem from Gary Hyland's book Hands Reaching in Water

 At the Friday afternoon session, shared with Sheri-D Wilson, I read from Line Dance. On Saturday morning in a session shared with Johnny Trinh, I read from my book Grid and shared work from new projects.

And of course I bought lots of books. Some titles were sold out before I shopped. That's because I had ignored my own rule: Always visit the book table first thing!