Tuesday, April 27, 2010

12th Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival

For three years in a row I’ve gone to the Blue Met expecting the halls of the Delta Centre-Ville to be flooded with literary buffs and aspiring writers like me. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. This year I went twice, and to my surprise, the events were starving for an audience. I am not going to name the events but I can assure you that I was disappointed to find a dearth of attendees. I expressed my concern to one of my mentors who was reading from his latest novel at one of the functions. Truth be told, the presence of the Montreal English writing community was not as strong as I thought it would be.

I guess we can all blame the ash cloud from Iceland's spewing volcano which halted air traffic across Europe (some authors and guests speakers were stranded there). However, Ian McGillis from the Gazette Narratives pointed out that there were some other inconveniences. For instance, "The bookstore is one of the few areas where people naturally congregate, and they want to chat, so surely there's a way. And how about closing the door during events in the auditorium, especially those that involve film screenings? Not only does sound from the nearby bookstore leak in, but the light is distracting. Finally, the decision that certain smaller rooms don't require amplification needs a re-think. On Sunday afternoon I attended Devenir ecrivain in the Versailles room and the back few rows could barely hear what the writers were saying. Several people gave up and left before the end."

Mr. McGillis also added, "The hotel itself still seems to have been laid out expressly to prevent spontaneous gatherings. There's a bar and restaurant but not the kind that encourage hanging out. And obviously the Delta can't be blamed for being where it is, but I can't help thinking how different the general festival atmosphere might be if the venue were located a little more in the thick of things. Imagine stepping outside straight into the bustle of Ste-Catherine or St-Denis as opposed to a cold concrete canyon. I wonder how many visiting writers leave without ever knowing how exciting our city can be."

We just hope that the Blue Met organizers pay heed to some of the comments people have made regarding this year's event and implement new ideas for next year's festival.


  1. I agree, Claudia.
    The first time I heard about this year's event, it was the pentultimate day! And I have yet to see a program of events - so no idea who was performing this year.
    Unfortunately, previous years' line-ups have been a turn-off. Mere trendiness, not enough literariness.

  2. From an evaluation standpoint, I wonder, did they hand out evaluations to participants of the event or after each session? Such written feedback, when taken seriously, serves the greater purpose of seeing what worked and what didn't for the next time. And then as an organizing committee you really need to implement the suggestions. All too often many carefully planned events go unevaluated. Why bother then?