Published on April 5, 2024

Spring Events Round-up

By Frances Grace Fyfe

April is the cruellest month. But wait, how can that be? What with the snow melting and the birds chirping and the sunlight returning to this hemisphere (well, except for the one day when it will be totally eclipsed by the moon, but you get the idea), there is still lots to look forward to. It’s time, in other words, for Montrealers to descend the spiral staircase and take part in a long-standing spring tradition: hanging out and hanging around. The more bookish among us can ease into the season by bringing their reading materials to the park or terrace, or better yet, can join their literary-minded companions at the festivals and events listed below. Hope to see some of you there!


This year’s Blue Metropolis Festival will take place between April 25 and April 28, under the theme “Dreams and Utopias.” Keeping with its mission to bring together different cultures to share the pleasure of reading and writing, this year’s opening ceremonies will include writers from South Korea to Tunisia to Colombia to Ukraine in conversation. Closer to home, Blue Met will be awarding the First People Prize to Tanya Talaga and the Blue Metropolis Violet Prize to Sky Gilbert. Both award ceremonies will feature interviews and readings with the authors themselves. Kids can also participate at various storytimes or meet the author events, such as this one with Monique Polak on April 26. There’s something for everyone, so be sure to check out the full lineup on the festival website!

It’s no mystery the inaugural Montreal Mystery book festival will be the destination for fans of the genre. The festival, which runs from May 24 to 25, will bring together English- and French-language writers for a weekend dedicated to the mystery and thriller genres, including panel discussions, author Q&As, book signings, and exclusive meet-and-greets. Prolific Reykjavik-based crime fiction writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir will serve as the guest of honour. Can you say “whodunnit” in Icelandic? 

That same weekend, the 13th edition of Montreal Comic Arts Festival will be held on rue Saint-Denis, which will once again be closed to traffic between Gilford and Roy. Between May 24 and 26, catch your favourite comic artists for conversations about cartooning, live animations, drawing and reading workshops, exhibitions, book signings, and more.


Speaking of comic arts, Montreal’s favourite graphic novel publisher Drawn and Quarterly is planning an exciting lineup of book launches at their sister store, La Petite Librairie Drawn & Quarterly. Among them is Ellen Chang-Richardson’s launch of Blood Belies – an arresting debut meditating on race, injury, and belonging – at 7:00 PM on May 30. The evening will be hosted by Liz Howard and will feature readings by D.M. Bradford and Rachel McCrum.

The following day, Frankie Barnet will launch her hotly anticipated novel Mood Swings. Will you, like the book’s Instagram-poet protagonist, meet and fall for a California billionaire who has developed plans for time travel technology while there? There’s no guarantees, and really only one way to find out. Both evenings are free and open to all, and will feature a reading, Q&A, and book signing. These will also be some of the last events to be hosted at La Petite Drawn & Quarterly before they move their kids books back to their main location at 211 Bernard, so worth coming out for a last hurrah to celebrate this Mile End mainstay. 

If discussion of your favourite books in smaller group settings is more your style, D&Q also hosts a number of book clubs for different audiences. Check out the full array on their website!

“Wine can be a better teacher than ink, and banter is often better than books,” says Stephen Fry. But who says you can’t have all three? Come by Librairie Saint-Henri on Monday, April 15 at 7:00 PM for an evening of fine reads and fine reds (and whites, and pinks, and oranges) curated by Montreal wine aficionado Carolyn Aubry of Vinorama. Space is limited, so get your ticket while supplies last.

To ring in National Poetry Month, Argo Books will also be hosting a springtime poetry reading featuring 2023 RBC/PEN New Voices Award winner Christine Wu and Montreal-based poet D.M. Bradford, hosted by Emily Tristan Jones. Come out to Atwater Library on Thursday, April 11 at 7:00 PM for poetic voices “in bloom.” Argo Bookshop will be supplying the books for this event, and admission is free to all. Check out the Facebook event here

Readings and performances

Keep the spirit of National Poetry Month going on Tuesday, April 9 at 7:30 PM, when Concordia University’s graduate poetry workshop puts on a night of readings at the newly opened Librairie Pulp Books & Café in Verdun. The event promises to provide a diverse, exuberant, and accomplished exploration of the form, with seven poets performing for seven minutes each. 

The weeks before and after Pulp also invite eight Quebec-based poets to read their own work, as well as from that of Palestinian poets, to discuss the role of the poet in the ongoing struggle for peace and justice. The event is free to attend, but all proceeds from the raffle, refreshments, donations, and profits from book sales from both evenings will go to the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund. April 4th will feature poets Fortner Anderson, Misha Solomon, Carolyn Marie Souaid, and Meryem Yildiz. April 18 will feature poets Endre Farkas, Liz Howard, Zeina Jhaish, and Steve Luxton. Both events will start at 7:00 PM. All info is available on their website.

McGill is lucky to host this year’s Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, which brings together students and scholars from across North America. Readers and writers of a more academic persuasion will certainly be interested in two keynotes from Caroline Levine on June 13 and Erín Moure on June 14, presented by the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English. Arriving from Cornell University, Caroline Levine will speak on “Studying Literature in the Climate Crisis, or a Tale of Three Pipeline,” while our own Montreal-based and world-acclaimed poet-translator Erín Moure will present “The Poem Is a Language-Place Where Thinking Trembles Vibrates.” 

 Finally, if poetry in a dusky bar is more your jam, The Throw! Poetry Collective has events at Le Basement on the first Saturday of every month, on April 1, May 4 and June 6, although be warned: they sometimes choose judges at random from the audience. Come ready to snap!

Frances Grace Fyfe is an MA student in English at Concordia University.

Illustration by Nora Kelly.