gritLIT 2014: Recap
Saturday, 19 April 2014
Authors have always seemed unreachable to me. They're the people who have written books — actual books — that are sold in stores, talked about in book clubs, and devoured in coffee shops. Needless to say, I get really excited and even a little starstruck when I find myself surrounded by them. This, along with my obvious love of books, is one reason I didn't even consider saying no when I was asked to join the committee of gritLIT, Hamilton's literary festival, last year.
The tenth annual gritLIT Festival was held between April 3–6 at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and we were thrilled to celebrate the festival's anniversary with Lynn Coady, Michael Winter, members of Teenage Head, and Emma Donoghue, to name only a few, along with many local talent from both Hamilton and Toronto. I even got the chance to host a workshop with Denise Chong, the author of one of my all-time favourite works of non-fiction, Egg on Mao, which I reviewed a few years back for Ricepaper magazine.
It was a whirlwind of a weekend, but it was the best kind of weekend, reminding me of why I love this vibrant city and all that it offers. We hear a lot about Hamilton's thriving art and music scene, but sometimes it seems like our literary community is still our little secret — brimming with poets, novelists, and non-fiction writers who are just waiting to be discovered. My favourite part of gritLIT is hearing, meeting, and buying the books of authors who, until recently, I've been unfamiliar with. My favourite discovery at this year's festival was Dannabang Kuwabong, a Ghanaian-Canadian poet who read from his book Voices from the Kibuli Country.
One of our goals as a festival for 2014 is to expand beyond the annual festival to include programming throughout the year. Our first endeavor is a writing group, which we hope will meet once a month. Sign up for our inaugural meet-up, which will take place on April 28 at Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe on Locke Street.