Festival coming together
Cabot Trail Writers Festival preparing for annual fall event
Even with the cancellation of its headlining writer, an organizer of the Cabot Trail Writers Festival says he’s confident this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever.
Poet and Metis advocate Katherena Vermette had to cancel out of the annual event recently and negotiations are currently happening to find a replacement.
If that doesn’t work out, longtime event organizer Gary Walsh says the remaining writers present a strong volume of work on their own.
“Right now we’re negotiating — we haven’t heard back from somebody so if we do, we do, if we don’t, we’re just going to go with the ones that we have — it’s a pretty strong lineup even without Katherena,” said Walsh earlier this week. Among those taking part in this year’s event — which runs Sept. 28-Oct. 1 — are Carol Bruneau, Wayne Johnston, Linden MacIntyre, Douglas Gibson, Sheree Fitch, Sarah Faber, Sarah MacLachlan, Mona Knight, Rebecca Silver Slayter and singer/songwriter James Keelaghan. Several of the writers, including Rebecca Silver Slayter, live in Cape Breton and two are firsttime novelists, Sarah Faber and Mona Knight.
Originally from Toronto, Faber lives in Cape Breton with her husband and their children. “All Is Beauty Now” is her first novel.
Knight was a former correspondent for a Third World sponsorship agency and when she moved to Cape Breton she contributed to the Victoria Standard. “Banjo Flats” is her first novel.
Although not known as a writer of books, Keelaghan is known to be one of Canada’s most respected songwriters. He’ll be taking part on a panel and performing at the festival’s Sunday brunch.
This year’s event in St. Anns will also see the return of several writers to the area.
“I’m really excited that Sheree Fitche is coming back and Carol Bruneau — they’ve been here before,” said Walsh. “They’re both giving workshops on Saturday morning … We’re doing it a little differently this year. We’re just having two workshops on Saturday morning and early Saturday afternoon so we’re just going to register 20 people maximum so it will be first come, first serve and each workshop compliments the other so it’s an interesting few hours with lunch included.”
MacIntyre will also be returning to the event and publishing icon Gibson will be giving his Atlantic Canadian debut to his stage show that examines writing through 150 years of Canadian history. He chooses one writer per decade and uses art and music to further explain their importance.
In the past the festival has attracted between 800 and 1,000 people to its events, which include readings in schools and fundraisers.
This year, writer Vickie Grant will be doing three workshops in Inverness County schools and two fundraisers are planned for Sept. 7. Cape Breton Post columnist and author Paul MacDougall is organizing an evening with writers event to be held in Sydney and St. Anns Tearoom will feature a night of dramatic storytelling. Further details on both events will be available shortly.