The last full day of the festival, and it feels like we’re winding down. We need to wind down, because the exhaustion factor is taking hold. I had a great moment last night talking with Christian Bök, after his smashing performance of about 10 pieces of sound poetry. This is poetry that is all sound, noises, bits of words stripped of all meaning. Sometimes soft, musical sounds, sometimes harsh and violent. Everything held together with the rhythm and the music. It’s a tradition that goes back thousands of years, in Christian’s mind. I could have talked longer with Christian, but it was midnight, and my wife was waiting below, past the point of no return. Ronald Leger, a poet of Acadia, had presented something similar a bit earlier, though not so extreme. The event is called Night Howl, and this year it lived up to its billing.
Yesterday was very busy with writing workshops, school visits, dialogues, readings, and a roundtable, which was called “Writing Lives and Afterlives,” with Nino Ricci, Daniel Poliquin, Maryse Rouy, and Noah Richler. The noontime roundtable was lively, with a somewhat shifting focus – from the demands of historical fiction, to the ethics of using real people as models for fictional characters, to the way narrative techniques are brought to the table when writing biography and memoir. The shifting focus probably did, as Dawn has suggested in her blog, leave our class of high school students feeling adrift. We’ll work on that for next year.
The highlight of the afternoon was a conversation / interview with Maurice Basque, an Acadian researcher and scholar at the University of Moncton, talking with Linden MacIntyre about The Bishop’s Man. Because Maurice knows the book so well, backwards and forwards, and because he knows the Acadian situation equivalent to the Cape Breton of MacIntyre’s book, the conversation was informative, serious, and deep, and also filled with so many funny moments that they had the audience in stitches. Linden told about asking his 93-year-old mother what she thought of his book. Was she upset with it because it undermined the faith that is so important in her life? She replied: “My faith has never depended on what any man does or doesn’t do.”
At 5pm Marie Cadieux, Acadian writer and filmmaker, hosted a reading that we called “Beer and Books.” There was plenty of beer available, though just as many chose wine or plain water. The readers were Fred Stenson, Gracia Couturier, Biz (rapper and author from Quebec), and Steven Galloway, filling in for absent Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer. What was nice was the way Marie engaged each author in a brief conversation after his or her reading.