Frye Festival unveils 2014 line-up

Written by Madeleine Blanchard on February 21, 2014

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

The Frye Festival celebrates 15 years with Canadian literary heavyweights Ross King, Lynn Coady, Allan Stratton, Debra Komar, Linda Spalding, Gérard Bouchard and many others.

From April 21 to 27 in Greater Moncton, the Frye Festival will play host to more than thirty authors from Canada, Ireland, Egypt and England who will participate in 50 public events and nearly 140 school visits. The Festival’s 15^th  edition will have something for everyone! From an art historian to a forensic scientist, a world traveler to an oil field worker — this line-up will delight readers with stories of personal struggle and triumph, dramatic family pasts, self-googling and double lives.

“The Frye Festival has been feeding imaginations for 15 years, celebrating our unique culture and sharing it with the world,” says Executive Director Danielle LeBlanc. “The depth and diversity of this year’s line-up will create meaningful opportunities to exchange ideas, discover great books, share knowledge and change attitudes towards literacy.”

With a slew of literary award nominations and wins, including the Giller, IMPAC Dublin, Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, Prix Felix-Leclerc, Prix des libraires and multiple GGs, the 2014 roster is also representative of the diversity of the Canadian literary cannon: novels, short stories, flash fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, young adult and children’s literature, travel writing, literary translation, essays and academic writing.

The heavy-hitters

Winner of the 2013 Giller Prize for /Hellgoing/, *Lynn Coady* continues to impress with her comical and compassionate stories, which are always rich and sometimes show an undercurrent of her upbringing in Cape Breton (she currently calls Edmonton home). Coady will share the stage at Soirée Frye (April 25, 8 pm) with *Ross King*, a multiple GG winner whose fiction and non-fiction books on Italian, French and Canadian art history, namely /Leonardo and the Last Supper/, provide insight into the vibrant lives and careers of some of history’s most famous artists.

King will also participate in “What’s Old Is New Again,” an event presented in collaboration with the Canada Council for the Arts three more GG laureates: *Gérard Bouchard*, *Daniel Poliquin* and *Linda Spalding*. The latter’s historical novel, /The Purchase/ (2012 GG winner), follows numerous award-winning non-fiction titles. Bouchard, a sociologist and historian, is best known for co-presiding Quebec’s Bouchard-Taylor Commission, while Poliquin has translated some of the biggest names in literature, including Mordecai Richler, Jack Kerouac, W.O. Mitchell and Douglas Glover.

Perhaps best-known for his young adult works (see below), *Allan Stratton* is publishing, just in time for the Festival, his most recent novel, /The Resurrection of Mary Mabel McTavish/. Set in Depression-era Hollywood, this book’s list of characters include Jack Warner, J.Edgar Hoover and the Rockettes.

To celebrate its 15th  anniversary, the Frye Festival is presenting a special talk on Northrop Frye by Dr. David Staines, whose resume boasts an essay collection to which Frye himself contributed. While this talk (April 22, 7 pm) will focus on Frye’s influence in Canada, the Maillet-Frye Lecture, entitled /Mythes et imaginaires collectifs : Au cœur du culturel et du social/ and delivered in French by Gérard Bouchard (April 26, 1:30 pm), will reflect Frye’s work on myth and imagination.

Homegrown and adopted talents

Chris Eaton and Mathew Henderson grew up in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, respectively, and they both now call Toronto home. Eaton’s innovative approach to fiction (and his double-life as a musician) and Henderson’s “people’s poetry” make them undeniable local talents. *Darryl Whetter*, professor of creative writing at Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia, flows between genres: he published a poetic praise for the Bay of Fundy and, in his recent novel entitled /Keeping Things Whole/, concerns himself with love, death and pot-smuggling.

Nova Scotia’s Debra Komar puts to good use her 20 years of experience as a forensic scientist in her retellings of centuries-old Maritimes-based crime, the most recent of which appears in /The Lynching of Peter Wheeler/, soon to be published by Goose Lane Editions. In /Charlie Tallulah/, Gerard Beirne, also curator of /The Irish Literary Times /and/ The New Brunswick Literary Times/, explores the hazards of creating stories in our daily lives.

Maritimes-born Josephine Watson joins the roster as this year’s Poète flyée. Watson is a multidisciplinary artist who studied theatre in Montreal before returning to Moncton last year. She draws inspiration from the rhythms of jazz, R&B and soul to create dynamic spoken word performances that complement her poetic, theatrical and musical talents. Watson has participated in many spoken word events, including the CBC’s Wired on Words, the Festival Voix d’Amérique and the Montreal Jazz Festival, where she performed with Choeur Maha and DJ Champion.

Journeys within and without

Karen Connelly brings to her works a world of insight, literally. Connelly, who splits her time between Toronto and Greece and frequently travels to Southeast Asia, will lead a workshop on “Writing the World,” while also promoting her new collection of poetry, /Come Cold River/.

Part memoir and part awareness campaign, /Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol/ is *Ann Dowsett Johnston*’s honest and compelling account of her struggle with alcoholism. Drawing on her experience as Vice-Principal of McGill University and overseer of /Maclean/’s bestselling /Guide to Canadian Universities/, she will discuss the topic at a breakfast presented by the Human Resources Association of NB (April 25, 8 am, open to the public).

The Kingston-based husband-and-wife team of *Wayne Grady* and *Merilyn Simonds* chronicle their road trip through America in /Breakfast at the Exit Café/. Individually, Simonds fictionalized an epistolary relationship from letters she found in her attic in /The Convict Lover/ before collecting her own flash fictions in a beautiful book entitled /The Paradise Project /that harkens back to Guttenberg. Conversely, literary translator Grady looks inward and focuses, in /Emancipation Day/, a 2013 Giller nominee, on a personal story fictionalizing his family’s history rife with racial tensions and social pressures.

For younger readers

Covering the young adult market are *Vikki VanSickle*, referred to as “Canada’s Judy Bloom” and author of the acclaimed Clarissa books, and *Allan Stratton*, playwright and author of the internationally acclaimed /Chanda’s Secrets/. *Laïla Héloua*, author of the World Book Award-nominated Tangerine & Kiwi series, along with Nova Scotia-based *Jessica Scott Kerrin* and their Francophone counterpart *Lucie Papineau,* will host the Festival’s first readings for preschool-aged children (in French on April 22 at 10 am and 11 am and in English on April 24 at 10 am and 11 am).

Program overview

Festival favourites, including Soirée Frye on April 25 and KidsFest, the Maillet-Frye Lecture and Frye Jam on April 26, will close out a week of book clubs, authors in conversation, jams, family events, writing workshops, public readings and much more. The 50-event program is presented alongside the TD Canada Trust Writers in the Schools program, which is well on track to reach 10,000 students throughout New Brunswick, all at absolutely no cost to schools.

Other than readings for preschoolers, new Festival initiatives include Paws to Read at KidsFest, a collaboration with Therapeutic Paws of Canada to develop literacy skills in children; a partnership with nine local /Centres communautaires d’apprentissage pour adultes /to encourage a love of reading among adult learners; and, a literature-powered Quidditch match organized by the United Way of Greater Moncton. Full program details will be announced in March.

The Festival is also pleased to present a half-day workshop on “Book Marketing Strategies” with *Adria Iwasutiak*, Publicity Manager at Random House of Canada. Participants will learn effective marketing strategies to promote their work to potential publishers, build readership and increase publicity. Presented in partnership with the Writers’ Federation of NB, the workshop will take place the afternoon of April 25.

The French-language component of the Festival is just as impressive, with a line-up that includes Daniel Poliquin, Robert Lalonde, Denise Desautels, Lucie Papineau, Marie Hélène Poitras and Diane Carmel Léger, among others.


Festival passes can now be purchased at the Frye Festival office (2^nd  floor, Aberdeen Cultural Centre) at a cost of $75 each. They admit one person to all Festival events except workshops and events where a meal is served. Tickets for individual events will be available at the door.

About the Frye Festival

The Frye Festival is Atlantic Canada’s largest literary happening. Over the past 15 years, it has presented more than 600 events, welcomed 430 authors, benefited from 75,000 volunteer hours, impacted 100,000 New Brunswick students and celebrated and shared our unique culture. The Festival presents events year-round, culminating in a week of festivities at the end of April. The 15th annual Frye Festival will take place April 21 to 27, 2014, in Greater Moncton. Details at

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