Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Toronto Star on the Winterset in Summer Literary Festival

Writers Share Spotlight with The Rock
In its picturesque surroundings, Winterset in Summer lets people get into authors' heads

Toronto Star
August 14, 2007
Susan Walker

EASTPORT, NFLD.–Cellphones don't work here. It's a contemporary, if minor, form of isolation that is part and parcel of the rich literary culture of Newfoundland. That culture in turn serves as an explanation for last weekend's Winterset in Summer Literary Festival.

In the small communities that dot the Newfoundland coast, "the only entertainment was the Sunday sermon. It's bred in the bone that you have to be able to perform, to talk, tell stories, sing, dance, play an instrument," says Richard Gwyn, Toronto Star columnist and summer resident of the Eastport area.

He established the Winterset Award in 2000, honouring the memory of his wife Sandra Gwyn, a writer whose childhood home in St. John's was called Winterset.

The Winterset Award, an annual prize of $5,000 for the best Newfoundland book, led to the festival. Run almost entirely by volunteers during its six-year history, with support from government, "friends of the festival" and five corporate sponsors, it sells out and then some each year.

This year, the big draw was Toronto's Michael Ondaatje, a poet and novelist who has shown a high regard for Newfoundland writing. Other than Ondaatje, the poets, novelists and songwriters were all from or resident in Newfoundland, in keeping with Sandra Gwyn's life-long support for the arts in her native province [...]

To read the complete article, click here.


As part of this year's festival program, Rattling Books author Agnes Walsh hosted a poetry panel featuring Michael Ondaatje, Patrick Warner and Ken Babstock. In the Old Country of My Heart, Agnes' first book of poems, is available as an unabridged audio recording, read by the author with unaccompanied ballads by Simone Savard-Walsh and pump organ music by George Morgan, from Rattling Books.