South Shore Breaker

Lunenburg Literary Festival a success

Despite interrupti­on by Fiona, event drew enthusiast­ic crowds

- PAUL PICKREM paulpickre­

Grade 9 student Kate Mccurdy likes to write historical fiction and fantasy. She also likes to express herself by writing about gender equality and animal rights, two of her favourite topics.

“I find a lot of joy in it because it's like me going into my own world and I get to create a story or write about something I am passionate about,” Mccurdy said recently.

So, Mccurdy was excited to have an opportunit­y to join 60 or so other Grade 9 students from Lunenburg's Bluenose Academy at a youth event organized as part of the seventh annual Lunenburg Literary Festival, affectiona­tely called Lunenburg Lit, which was held Sept. 22-24.

South Shore Public Libraries organizes Lunenburg Lit.

Poet and novelist Gloria Ann Wesley was on hand to discuss her novels Chasing Freedom and If This Is Freedom and to answer questions from the young aspiring writers. The award-winning author is known for being Nova Scotia's first published Black poet and for her young adult fiction and children's literature. Wesley is a retired teacher, while Kate Mccurdy is considerin­g English as her major in university and becoming a teacher someday.

Mccurdy said she enjoyed the up close and personal approach to the event.

“I think it opens so many doors to have that in-person group interview with an actual author,” Mccurdy said.

“I really enjoyed when she

read parts of her book Chasing Freedom because I learned about the slave trade in history class.”

Mccurdy said she also learned a lot during the question-and-answer period following Wesley's presentati­on.

“I enjoyed when there was a period at the end where I was able to ask a lot of questions so I could get an idea of the behind the scenes of how writing works,” Mccurdy said.

“I asked how does the editing work? What got you into writing? What are you passionate about? Are there any rewards or challenges to writing? And she talked to us about how at night when she had an idea, she would go into her dining room and she had her whole character board up. And she would start writing ideas whenever they came to her,” Mccurdy said.

“Learning about a book and the way someone writes it can open up doors to people who

might want to write.”

John Lecain teaches Grade 7 and Grade 9 English Literature at Bluenose Academy. The Thursday event was his first time at the Lit Fest.

“I jumped at the opportunit­y to get out of the classroom and go meet a real author in person and support the local Lit Festival,” Lecain said.

“There are lots of them that love writing,” Lecain said of the students. “I read their work every week and a lot of them are inspired by writing, but they don't often get a chance to meet authors or their heroes in the flesh.”

“They were able to hear Gloria Ann Wesley's story about how she started. How she was a teacher and she had a love for writing and turned that love into becoming a published author. I think kids need a role model like that,” Lecain said.

“It turned out to be a really great experience,” he said of the event.

According to South Shore Public Libraries CEO Ashley Nunn-smith, a panel on Thursday evening featuring writers and publishers Chris Benjamin, Andy Verboom and Katherine Barrett answered audience questions about the first steps in literary publishing. The Friday night event featured David Bergen from Winnipeg, Shyam Selvadurai from Toronto and El Jones from Halifax.

Unfortunat­ely, festival organizers felt they should cancel all the events planned for Saturday, Sept. 24, because of the imminent arrival of Hurricane Fiona.

Cancelled events included the annual non-fiction panel on Saturday afternoon, the popular Literary Walking Tour of Lunenburg and a Saturday evening event with novelist and screenplay writer Shyam Selvadurai, Newfoundla­nd author Megan Gail Coles and Halifax novelist Jane Doucet.

“We made the difficult decision on Thursday afternoon to cancel all events on Saturday but have our Friday night event as we already had two authors who had come to town earlier in the week,” Ashley Nunn-smith said.

Jeff Mercer, deputy chief librarian, said it was validating to see so many enthusiast­ic people in the audience for the Thursday and Friday night on the eve of a significan­t weather event.

“Knowing that we've successful­ly tapped into what people are looking for,” Mercer said, “and that they not only have the interest but also the drive and dedication to attend our events despite an incoming hurricane (or pandemic circumstan­ces in previous years) is quite rewarding.”

"Public libraries are about sharing informatio­n, the joy of reading, and the full expression of human creativity. Typically, that takes the form of our collection­s of books, movies and more that you can borrow and use to travel the world without leaving your living room. However, in the case of the Lunenburg Literary Festival, it means bringing world-class authors from across Canada together to celebrate their craft with our residents and visitors,” Nunnsmith said. “It means bringing the tomes on our shelves to life with real, in-person, intimate conversati­ons with their real-life creators,” Nunnsmith said of the motivation behind hosting the Lit Festival. “It is an inside glimpse behind-the-scenes, which helps illuminate and deepen our connection with the books we've read and enjoyed.”

 ?? CONTRIBUTE­D ?? Nova Scotia poet and novelist Gloria Ann Wesley is shown during her presentati­on to Grade 9 students from Bluenose Academy at the recent Lunenburg Literary Festival.
CONTRIBUTE­D Nova Scotia poet and novelist Gloria Ann Wesley is shown during her presentati­on to Grade 9 students from Bluenose Academy at the recent Lunenburg Literary Festival.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada