Wordfest Creative Director Josh Lambier and Museum London Director Brian Meehan walked me through the new situation. Last season, the festival was spread across downtown, from the Museum London at one end over to the Covent Garden Market then to the Marienbad Restaurant (where we held the open mic) and finally to the Central Library at the other end. People had to do a lot of walking from one event to another and consequently missed ones they may have wanted to attend. This year everything is in one building, the museum!
I was particularly interested to see the space for the open mic (on Saturday Nov. 5th). Last year, London Open Mic and Wordsfest hosted it in a wonderful restaurant space, the Marienbad, but it was a bit small for the unexpectedly large audience of 93. This time it will be in the main hall, called the Centre Gallery (right behind the desk just as you enter the museum). This space is normally divided by display walls for an exhibition, but when I was there all those had been moved out and we could see the actual size of it. It will easily hold 100 people, likely 150, including tables. And it will have to, because, since the open mic will be right there in the museum, even more people than last year will come for something to eat and a relaxing time listening to the open mic readers. The space is going to have a riser for the readers, dim lights, and a bar with lounge food.
The local author’s book fair, which last year was hidden away upstairs in the Covent Garden Market some blocks away, this time will be just a few steps up the stairs here in the museum, right next to the festival’s large reading hall, in a long, luxurious hallway sided with great windows looking out on nature. There is room enough there for anyone who has written a book and wants to plug it. They can reserve a spot via the WordsFest.ca website or by phoning the Central Library.
Museum Director Meehan said that as proud as he is to host so many literary giants from SouthWest Ontario, the real star of the festival, to him, will be in a glass case beside the open mic space. It’s a 1st edition copy of Milton’s Paradise Lost!! Yes, 1st edition. Published in 1667. He said it was possibly owned by Milton himself.
Wordsfest, the Words Literary and Creative Arts Festival, now in its third season, hosts numerous poets, novelists and literary academics over it’s three days (Nov. 4th to 6th), including readings, speeches and conversations. All participants are from Southwestern Ontario. See the lineup.
I’m excited, and am going to attend as many events as I can.