On November 19, the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF) proudly proclaimed that it was “on the write track”, as it celebrated its 15th anniversary and handed out its annual literary prizes at a gala event that took place at the historic Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre. The QWF awarded its prizes in six categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, translation, children’s and young adult literature and first book, and honoured the best of Quebec’s English-language literature that was published over the past year.
The Grapevine was present at the QWF 15th anniversary awards gala, and here are a few notes and observations:
After several years of hosts that were either broadcasters, radio show hosts, or festival presidents, it was refreshing to see acclaimed bestselling novelist and CBC host Anne-Marie MacDonald take the hosting helm this year. She embraced the welcoming atmosphere of Montreal’s English-language literary community after so many years of dwelling on what she described as “the lonely plain”, is planning to make her home here in Montreal in the near future.
Several previous QWF award winners haunted the balconies of the century-old Corona Theatre to explain how much winning the award meant to them and their careers as a writers. Joel Yanofsky, who won the award for non-fiction in 2004 and 2011, talked about the other side careers he has had while honing his writing skills. After watching his presentation, I am convinced that Joel can take up another side career should he want to supplement his work as a writer, and that is of stand-up comedy; he has the comic chops that could stand up to any receptive or hostile comedy club crowd.
One of the more offbeat acceptance speeches that evening was made by Andrew Szymanski, who won the Concordia University First Book prize for his short story collection “The Barista and I”. The rather astounded Szymanski, who admitted to wearing borrowed shoes to the gala, talked about how he developed his writing career in a series of squalid bedrooms (borrowed shoes and squalid bedrooms … sounds like a potential title for a future book).
Finally, it was great seeing Montreal comic Lorne Elliott for the first time in a very long time. The lanky comic, who did great satirical songs on his rather compact guitar, was a fixture during the Just For Laughs festival’s early years (I last saw him perform at the festival during the live Mary Tyler Moore gala back in 1991). He is now taking his comedic skills to the printed page. His first comic novel “Beach Reading”, which one of the jurors described as a Farley Mowat novel if it was written by Mordecai Richler, was shortlisted for the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction (however, it ws Saleema Nawaz’s critically acclaimed novel “Bone and Bread” that took the prize). Look out for a review of “Beach Reading” in a future Book Banter column.
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Raise money to aid relief efforts in the central Philippines
Montreal city councilor Marvin Rotrand invites the residents of the Cote des Neiges/NDG Borough, as well as all citizens of Montreal, to enjoy a movie and at the same time, help raise money to aid relief efforts in the central Philippines that was ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan on November 27, 6:30 p.m., at the Dollar Cinema, located at 6900 Decarie Boulevard. The movie being featured that evening is the family film “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”. Admission is free; however, all those who attend are urged to make a cash or cheque donation for Typhoon Haiyan Disaster Relief. Any donation of $20 or more is eligible for a tax deduction.
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The multi-talented Sarah Segal-Lazar will present highlights from her solo show “Talk, Mackerel”, which was one of the runaway hits at this year’s Fringe Festival, tomorrow (November 24) at the Segal Centre Studio, 5170 Cote St. Catherine Road; showtime is at 2 p.m. Segal-Lazar portrays Leslie Moira Duncanaine, a young girl who is throwing her birthday party filled with songs, stories and even party games … and you’re invited to take part in the festivities!
This special presentation of “Talk, Mackerel”, which will be part of the next edition of the Centaur Theatre’s Wildside Festival this January, is being presented by Beyond the Mountain Productions as its annual fundraiser to benefit the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. Tickets are $25, or $12 for students, McGill Hospital workers and Quebec Drama Federation members. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 514-739-7944 .
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Exhibition by local photographer Alex Brzezinski called “Through These Eyes”
Photography buffs shouldn’t miss the upcoming exhibition by local photographer Alex Brzezinski called “Through These Eyes”, which will be on display at the Belgo Building, located at 372 St. Catherine Street West, from November 27 – 30. For more information, go to:
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