I was flipping through an old newspaper before throwing it into the recycle bin when I came across an article about an upcoming event called “Prose in the Park.” Since the paper happened to be old, the event happened to be taking place on that very day.
Well, Stella and I were certainly going to need to visit this inaugural event! We drove down from our quiet suburb into the hustle and bustle of Ottawa’s Westboro area, where the Parkdale Market (one of Ottawa’s Farmer’s Markets) was in full swing. And immediately beside the market, Prose in the Park was also in full swing. We were thrilled to see the large crowd — and the great number of tables with local authors and their books.
The event offered three key activities:
- Visiting authors at their tables, where they happily welcomed you and offered to sign a copy of their book should you chose to buy one
- Listening to panel sessions, with topics that ranged from short story to sci-fi to First Nations’ authors and French language authors
- Listening to an interview with special guest Vincent Lam, a Giller Prize winner
We missed the session with Vincent Lam, but thoroughly enjoyed taking our time chatting with the authors and bringing home a ton of new great reading material.
We bought the following books that appear in the photo above:
- Three books (Fifth Son, Dream Chasers, The Night Thief) by Barbara Fradkin, an Ottawa crime-writer whose books are set locally. Stella and I have already read two of her books, so we knew they were a safe bet.
- Lotusland by David Joiner, which forces the reader to take a look at the power imbalances between Westerners living abroad and the locals that they build relationships with.
- Red Nexus, by Benoit Chartier. We were drawn to his table by the gorgeous artwork on the cover of his novel, but left feeling so pleased we’d had the chance to speak with him and learn of his writing journey so far.
- Sunset Rising by S.M. McEachern, which is a young adult thriller set in the future.
Geeky Godmother has sworn that she will eat a bug if Chartier, author of Red Nexus, doesn’t win a writing award. Here, he signs Stella’s copy and encourages her to keep writing.
I also had the good fortune of running into someone that I went to high school with! I don’t think we’d actually seen each since we’d graduated in 1990, but we’d been able to keep in loose touch through Facebook (of course).
Kim (Kimberly Esdaile Gordon) is the newly minted author of a children’s book called Tonia’s Spider. The book’s concept is quite unique: Tonia, a young girl, is overcome with crippling fear as a result of a reoccurring dream about a spider. “Lucid dreaming” is a technique that can be used to overcome nightmarish dreams by enabling the mind to control the dream. In the book, the tools and skills involved in lucid dreaming are taught to children through Tonia’s experience. (You can read more in this Ottawa Citizen article.)
A full spectrum of literary works were celebrated at Prose in the Park, including books for children. Here, four children’s authors stand proudly sharing their creations: Monica Dumont holds the book Cocopuff – a Happy Tale; Kimberly Esdaile Gordon holds the book Tonia’s Spider; Joanne Lecuyer holds the book My Friend Merlin; and Nathalie Beaupre holds the book Why Am I Perfect?
In sum: Great event and definitely worthwhile attending for those who love books and inspiring and helpful for those who have writing aspirations. The event is free and wheelchair-accessible.
Every city is filled with its own unique mix of talent and personalities. Taking time out to visit events like Prose in the Park makes me fall back in love with my own home town and appreciate all that it offers.