Get ready to Read … By the Sea

Arts & Entertainment Community Featured

RIVER JOHN — WordPlay was a huge success and now it’s on to the Read By the Sea festival.

To keep the energy high between WordPlay on July 2 and Read by the Sea’s main stage on July 7, the festival offers literary activities in conjunction with village partners.

On July 3, festival-goers met at the Janice Murray Gill Memorial Library to go with Mi’kmaq educator and author Gerald Gloade on a Story Walk along the river that gives the village its name. Then in the evening, Caldera Tall Ships and Tall Tales featured award-winning local author Linda Little read from her short story The Still.

Today, July 4, at 10 a.m. meet at the library for a second Story Walk, this time with members of the River John Historical Society. The stories feature tidbits from The River John Reader, compiled by the late Janice Murray Gill. The walk concludes at the Heritage Museum. Then 1-2 p.m. Mabel Murple’s will host a family story time in the Dreamery — with a surprise guest reader. Children, bring your grownups.

On Thursday, July 5, come to the library at 2:30 p.m. to meet members of The Pictou County Writers’ Group. The information-sharing session will include stories, games, and a chance for everyone to share their talents. Now in its second year, the group includes everyone from brand new writers to those who have published a few books.

Then, 7-8:30 p.m., return to Caldera Distilling Inc for an evening campfire, with storytelling in the best oral tradition. All story-tellers welcome.

Pitch the Publisher

It’s Dragon’s Den with a literary twist. Authors pitch their writing projects to a panel of Atlantic publishers who critique the presentations and — the writers hope — select a proposal or two for publication.

The event begins at 9 a.m. inside the Royal Canadian Legion, 2506 River John Station Road in River John. Writers who wish to pitch had to pre-register. If there is time, authors may be chosen from the audience to pitch, so even if you don’t pre-register, come prepared. Spectators are welcome. The publishers’ panel includes representatives from Goose Lane, Fernwood and Nimbus. Pictou County artist, historian and author John Ashton is moderator.

The event concludes at 10:15 a.m., in time for everyone to head to the gardens surrounding the Legion for the 11 a.m. Read by the Sea Main Stage.

Main Stage

Bring your lawn chair, sun hat — and maybe sunscreen, bug spray or a sweater. This is Nova Scotia, and the weather can change in seconds. In the event of serious wet stuff, the rain venue is the River John Fire Hall.

The main stage begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 7, in the River John Legion Memorial Gardens. Featured authors are Sarah Faber, Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Pauline Dakin and Wayne Johnston, the MC is CTV television host Jayson Baxter, and the interviewers are local writer Lana MacEachern and CTV morning show host Kelly Linehan.

Sarah Faber’s first novel, All is Beauty Now, honours the author’s Brazilian heritage and explores how a family deals with secrets, betrayal, loss, mental illness and grief. The novel was awarded the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award in the fiction category at the 2018 Atlantic Book Awards. She was also a finalist for the Thomas Raddall Fiction award. Faber’s writing has appeared in Matrix and Brick. Originally from Toronto, she now lives in Cape Breton with her husband and their children.

Poet, essayist, editor and author Lorri Neilsen Glenn was born and raised on the Prairies and moved to Nova Scotia in 1983. She has taught across Canada and in Ireland, Australia, Chile and Greece. Her multi-award-winning writing focuses on women, arts-based research, and memoir/life stories. She was 2005-09 poet laureate for the Halifax Regional Municipality, where she lives. A faculty member at Mount Saint Vincent University, she is a mentor in the University of King’s College MFA program in creative nonfiction, and has served as a juror for regional and national writing awards. Her most recent book, Following the River: Traces of Red River Women, (2017, Wolsak and Wynn) compiles portraits of her Indigenous grandmothers and their contemporaries in 19th century Manitoba.

Lana MacEachern will interview the authors, and the festival breaks for lunch. Coles Books mobile store will be on hand to sell the featured authors’ books, authors will sign books, there are fund-raising raffles and souvenirs for sale, and food concessions will be open. The audience is welcome to bring picnic lunches well. Live music will be provided by Floyd Rudolph.

Pauline Dakin authored the bestseller Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood, released by Penguin Random House Canada in September 2017 under the Viking imprint. Her 30-year journalism career included award-winning work in film, television, radio and print, with a focus on health issues, documentaries, current affairs and production. Her awards list includes a citation from Canada’s top journalism prize, the Michener Awards, three fellowships from the National Press Foundation in Washington, DC, and a fellowship from the MIT/Knight Science journalism on medical evidence. Originally from British Columbia, she is now in Nova Scotia. Currently she teaches journalism at the University of Kings’ College.

Wayne Johnston is a multi-award-winning and highly acclaimed author whose latest (10th) novel, First Snow, Last Light has earned rave reviews since its release in the fall of 2017. Born and raised in Goulds, Newfoundland & Labrador, Johnston worked as a reporter for the St. John’s Daily News devoting himself to full-time writing. His first novel, The Story of Bobby O’Malley won the WH Smith/Book award for the best first English-language novel that year, and subsequent works received critical acclaim and attention. He lives in Toronto.

Kelly Linehan interviews both Dakin and Johnston. Then all four authors gather on stage for a panel discussion, followed by audience question and answer, moderated by Linehan.

The festival closes at 3:30 p.m.

Free Admission

No admission fees are charged to any of the events. Festival organizers feel it is of utmost importance that all aspects of the festival are made accessible to everyone, regardless of economic status. When it comes to books and reading, everyone is equal. However, it costs a lot of money to put on a festival like Read by the Sea. The festival is largely funded by grants from various levels of government, by private donors, and by the fund-raising effort of the festival’s volunteer committee. Any of those may not provide enough funds in any given year. Even though organizers don’t ask for admission fees, if anyone can afford to help even a little bit, they are invited to participate in a fundraiser or make a donation.