I have to admit to you guys: Before this festival, I wasn't much into literature at all. I have only read a few very familiar books, like the Harry Potter series, Dan Brown's books (Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code), and even The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Beyond that, I wasn't much of a reader. I either would bury my head into the sports news or watch the flickering, colourful motion pictures on the television set. But thanks to "Thin Air", I am motivated to read more.
My experience started off with attending a session with Lynn Coady, a award-winning novelist and journalist from Edmonton. In her session, she introduced herself to us, talked about her writing and even read from her newest book, "The Antagonist", which I found was worth listening to. The section that she read of us reminded me a lot of the things that go on in the rural town, where I used to go to high school, from how she displayed the characters and the setting. Her writing was really enjoyable and I could easily picture the events in the book in my head, as I have witnessed such things in my life before. Her session was enjoyable overall.
Two days later, the class went to another session in the same room, and this time, it was with Glen Downie, a poet living in Toronto, who is actually from Winnipeg. He also wrote from his book "Local news" which features new poems of his. Quite a few of his poems are based of real-life events, which I found brave of him to do. Not many people want to read work based on their lives without breaking into tears. Another thing that really made this panel entertaining was his lengthy reading of his poem about the cliches of door-to-door salesmen, whose title I can't remember right now. All I know is that it was hilarious and it kept the crowd laughing. Glen Downie gave me a different view of poetry, and I like it. Sure, poetry is hard to do, but it's a form of art.
Last, but not least, on Friday we saw Dr. Myrl Coulter, a non-fiction author who is also from Winnipeg, but now lives in Edmonton. Her session had a feel of nostalgia to it, as she read from her book "The House With the Broken Two: A Birthmother Remembers", which evolves around her experiences of being a mother in the 1960's. The reading I listened to gave me a little bit of an understanding of what it was like living in the 60's, aside from the hippies, Jimi Hendrix and the first man on the moon. Her reading involved a lot of retro visions in it, which I could picture with ease.
What really fascinated me about her was her dedication to get her work published. It took her over 40 years to get her book "Willpower" published, and she won the National Screen Institute Drama Prize in 1995 for it. It was really something that I would take as an inspiration. Good things are worth waiting for, right?
Overall, the panels I attended were interesting and worth remembering, because they were filled with different personalities and writing styles that kept the audience's attention and enabled them to ask good questions in the end. I look forward to next year already.