Literary Events in Montreal for Fall 2022
by Faith Paré
Readers and the fall are a long-time match, but while the wind and fog typically entice folks to stay inside with a stack of books, I’m eager to hit the pavement. Reading series return from summer vacation, and book fairs arrive just in time to prepare for the holidays. When I moved to Montreal in the autumn of 2017 to study creative writing, it was by sitting at the backs of bars and drifting from reading to reading that I became acquainted with this literary landscape. Perhaps the phrase should be literary ecosystem: a varied, interconnected network of linguistic and stylistic differences that overlap, brush against, and inspire each other. Fall continues to represent this peak literary season for me. I hope this list, though not exhaustive, will encourage you to bear the chill and go savour some live literature!
Have no fear if you couldn’t attend Anteism’s triple book launch and want to hear more Alexei Perry Cox. You can hear her read alongside 2017 Griffin Award nominee Hoa Nguyen from the comfort of your home, for the Atwater Poetry Project’s online event on September 29, 8 p.m. This fusion of Cox and Nguyen’s experimental poetics will be the perfect kickoff to the APP’s multidisciplinary fall season (if I can say so myself—I did organize it, after all!). Register with your email via Crowdcast to attend.
URSA, Montreal folk legend Martha Wainwright’s venue, proves to be a friend of not only musicians but writers, with an upcoming transnational reading featuring Dominic Hoey, Omar Musa, Hollie McNish, and Michael Pedersen on the evening of Monday, September 26. An impressive curatorial effort by Font Magazine editor Rachel McCrum, she and the four invitees together represent Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, offering a taste of global literary currents usually rare outside of festivals. Tickets are $10 at the door.
Speaking of festivals, POP Montreal returns to The Main at the end of September with their diverse calendar of exhibitions, film screenings, and musical acts. September 28 offers the fifth edition of the festival’s Lecture POP Reads showcase,promoting recently published local books. This year features bilingual readings by Fiorella Boucher, Yara El-Ghadban, Jean-Pierre Gorkynian, N. Oji Mzilikazi, Jason “Blackbird” Selman, Deanna “DNA” Smith, and Philippe Yong in the stunning Rialto Hall.
On September 30, Librairie Paragraphe welcomes Ukrainian novelist Ivan Baidak, who’s embarking on a Canadian tour to promote the English translation of his book (In)visible, which explores the social experiences of people with physical conditions and disabilities. The urgency of Baidak’s novel is amplified by the circumstances of its original Ukrainian press, VIVAT Publishing, struggling to survive and comfort national readers amid Russian occupation. Also on September 30, Montreal-grown literary journal Weird Era launches its second issue at De Stiil Books: toast to their work with a Weird Era-themed cocktail and enjoy readings from contributors Frankie Barnet, Michael LaPointe, Sean Michaels, and Anna Ralph.
October begins with THROW! Poetry Collective at their new venue, Le Basement, on October 1. The longstanding slam has excitedly been testing a fully bilingual competition and open mic. Léo Coupal, the 2017 Quebec representative at la Coupe du monde de slam de poésie, is their upcoming featured performer, but in case you miss it, the slam occurs the first Saturday of each month. Cover is $8, and make sure to sign up ahead of time if you wish to compete!
The first weekend of October, the Volume Art Book Fair, organized by ARCMTL, takes over the SAT (Sociéte des arts technologiques) with over fifty international exhibitors, a second-hand art book sale, and live music. Among this year’s local publishers at Volume 5 is multidisciplinary poet extraordinaire Fortner Anderson—stop by his table and say hello! Volume 5’s programming also includes exhibitions, artist talks, and workshops with visiting creators between September 27 and October 1. Details are still to be announced, but ARCMTL’s acclaimed Expozine festival is also rumoured to return this year, likely in November.
The Next on the Agenda (NOTA) Conference for English-language writers, publishers, and literary professionals is bound to be creative in its prismatic approach to the theme, “Writing Futures in Quebec.” The free day of panels and focus groups is an ideal way to gain insight into career resources and to address matters at the heart of literary industries today. In-person seats at Concordia University’s 4th Space are now full, but get on the waitlist, or register to attend via Zoom.
It’s usually a nightmare to choose between two readings happening on the same night, but not impossible to attend both if they’re down the block from each other. On October 5, the Violet Hour, hosted by Christopher DiRaddio, partners with Gay Village green space la Place du Village to present a queer, bilingual reading en plein air with Gabriel Cholette, Nofel, Virginie Savard, Su J. Sokol, and Neil Smith. Meanwhile, Librarie L’Euguélionne is the lucky host of River Halen and the launch for their latest release, Dream Rooms, with a guest appearance from THIS Magazine fiction editor Felix Chau Bradley. Both events begin at 6 p.m.
Mid-to-late October is expected to be bursting with events. On Saturday, October 29 at 7 p.m., the Atwater Poetry Project is returning to our home at the Atwater Library in the Adair Auditorium to present one of our biggest shows this year. Down the Road and A World Away: Poets from Near and Far features winners of PEN Canada’s prestigious New Voices Award, Em Dial (2020), Deepa Rajagopalan (2021), and Fareh Malik (2022), and British Columbia’s Isabella Wang. This showcase results from the joined forces of the APP, PEN Canada, literary curator Linda Morra, and the Quebec Writers’ Federation, who will also host a writing workshop led by Isabella Wang on the same day. There is a fee for the afternoon workshop, which ranges for QWF members, non-members, and students, but check out the organization’s needs-based scholarships and their Fresh Pages scholarships for writers of colour. And the APP reading that evening—like all of our events—is free to attend.
Some events are still to be confirmed. The October date and lineup for the bilingual series Lectures Logos Readings, hosted at Little Burgundy’s UNIA Hall and organized by the Kola Writers (Maguy Métellus, Blossom Thom, and H. Nigel Thomas), is likely to be announced in the coming weeks. Writers’ Read, Concordia’s creative writing department’s official reading series, is preparing to announce a nonfiction writing panel moderated by Hayley Mlotek, scheduled for October 20.
November is a month of celebration for the English-writing scene in Quebec, and this year’s return to in-person gatherings will be extra special. AELAQ’s annual Holiday Book Fair is distinct for its innovative collaborations in addition to their weekend book sale. On November 2, the Montreal Review of Books commences the fair with its Fall Issue Launch at URSA. November 3 is a special Holiday Book Fair edition of the Atwater Poetry Project with writers Trynne Delaney, River Halen, and Prathna Lor at the Atwater Library’s Adair Auditorium, reading and signing their books released in 2022. Sales by Quebec publishers and bookstores will take place in the Concordia Atrium on November 5 and 6, with literary events happening in the 4th Space on Friday, November 4.
Also planned for the Holiday Book Fair is a showcase of the finalists for the inaugural QWF Spoken Word Prize. The winners will later be revealed on November 14 with other recipients of the organization’s other literary awards during the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s Annual Gala at the Cabaret Lion d’Or. Details for these events are forthcoming. And, of course, there’s you! If you’re reading this, you, too, are already part of this literary ecosystem. Whether you’re tempted to put together an open mic at your favourite café spot, or want to spread the word about a reading that you’ll be a part of, make sure you submit your event to the QWF’s calendar, email Where Poets Read for inclusion on their blog, or write to the recently re-established Literary Umbrella of Quebec to collaborate with fellow literary organizers.
Faith Paré is a poet and performer of Afro-Guyanese ancestry. She has shared her work at national arts centres such as the Art Gallery of York University, the Harbourfront Centre, and the Winter Garden Theatre. Faith is the curator of the Atwater Poetry Project, a community-based English-language reading series with a national audience, founded in 2004. She was the inaugural recipient of the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s Mairuth Sarsfield Mentorship, and was named an honourable mention for the League of Canadian Poets’ Pavlick Prize, granted to a poet with an outstanding portfolio and significant commitment to Canadian poetry communities. She writes in Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montreal.
Illustration by Nora Kelly