Leacock Summer Festival 2008

    -   Ontario's Largest Summer Literary Get-Together
    -   Thirty authors descend on Sunshine City

    ORILLIA, ON, July 17 /CNW/ - The Leacock Summer Festival, Ontario's
largest literary get-together, the Leacock Museum's annual salute to writers
and reading opens in Orillia next Tuesday with over thirty writers and
presenters appearing at the six day event.
    "We're ecstatic about this year's lineup," said the Leacock Museum's Fred
Addis, "It's a terrific combination of old friends returning and some very
popular authors we've been trying to lure north for many years."
    Among those festival first-timers are Marie-Claire Blais, Barbara Gowdy
and Jane Urquhart. Popular returnees include Barry Callaghan, Austin Clarke
and philosopher Mark Kingwell.
    "There's also a showcase for student writers and a fun family afternoon
for kids", he added.
    The festival kicks off on Tuesday, July 22 at 4pm with readings by
novelist Barbara Gowdy and poet and author Christopher Dewdney. On Tuesday
evening the creative writing students from the Laurentian University at
Georgian College program will be hosted by artistic director Dr. Bruce Meyer
as they present a showcase of their work.
    Toronto Star columnist Richard Gwyn, winner of the Charles Taylor Prize
for non-ficition for his acclaimed biography John A.: The Man Who Made Us will
open the Wednesday program with a reading at 2:00 pm.
    On Wednesday evening, Newfoundland poet Randall Maggs presents an
illustrated reading of from his collection Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems,
highlighting the troubled career of the enigmatic netminder who toiled in the
NHL winning four Stanley Cups with Detroit and Toronto. On display at the
reading will be the Vezina Trophy courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Author
and screenwriter Paul Quarrington, well known to many Orillians and winner of
the Leacock Medal for Humour for his book King Leary, will round out the
Wednesday evening bill with a reading in prose and song.
    The festival has teamed up with the Friends of the Orillia Public Library
to present novelist Judy Fong Bates, author of the popular novel Midnight at
the Dragon Café, selected as this year's Orillia's Big Read.
    Award-winning Windsor Star reporter, photographer and poet Marty Gervais
is the featured presenter at this year's festival Letters Dinner. Gervais will
present an illustrated program That Summer in Iraq, detailing his travels
behind the battlelines to communities in war torn Iraq with a group of young
    On Friday, Stephen Leacock's niece Elizabeth Kimball will once again be
honoured at the Teddy Bears Picnic with the reading of her story The House
That Stephen Built. Veteran storyteller Sherry Lawson, from the Rama First
Nation will be on hand with her unique brand of captivating stories for kids.
The festival, in co-operation with the Early Childhood Education program at
Georgian College, will host a fun day from children and families with crafts,
face-painting and lots of cake and lemonade.
    At 4pm on Friday, Julie Roorda will read from her young adult novel Wings
of the Bee.
    The Friday night program features 2008 Leacock Medal for Humour winner
Terry Fallis reading on a triple bill with Stephen Gardiner and Drew Hayden
    Each Saturday afternoon of the festival for the past four years has
featured writers from the Humber School for Writers. This year's program will
include three authors from the school's faculty, Anthony De Sa, Steven Skurka
and former Leacock Medal winner Joseph Kertes. The program will be hosted by
Antanas Sileika.
    Philosopher, author and social commentator Mark Kingwell is back in the
Saturday happy hour slot at 5:30 pm reading from his newest work Concrete
    Author and publisher Barry Callaghan has once again assembled a stellar
lineup for his Exile Editions Ladies Night, another staple of the festival.
Callaghan will introduce readings by Marie-Claire Blais, Lauren B. Davis,
Kathleen McCracken and Anne Michaels.
    Poetry is the focus of Sunday's early afternoon program with readings by
George Elliott Clarke and Christopher Doda. This session will also include
readings from the new Exile Editions release Selected Poems of Gwendolyn
    The Sunday program continues with readings by novelists David Gilmour,
Diane Schoemperlen and Jane Urquhart.
    Bajan cooking is once again the highlight of the festival finale at
Austin Clarke's Bajan Birthday barbecue. The celebrated Giller Prize winning
novelist has closed the festival for 5 years running with a spicy Caribbean
dinner featuring many dishes from his native Barbados. Clarke has selected
authors Andrew Macrae and David Chariandy as guest readers at the dinner.
    Last year the festival enjoyed its best attendance to date and Addis
hoping they can top the mark this year with the star-studded lineup.
    "Reading for many people is a personal, if not private activity. If we
can coax more of our many avid readers to come out and put a face to the words
they read, we'll be happy with that," commented Addis, "I think people will be
astounded to hear and meet the people behind the stories they read."

    The Leacock Museum is marking three important anniversaries in 2008. It
was one hundred years ago that Professor Stephen Leacock purchased property at
the Old Brewery Bay in Orillia. Leacock's 19-room summer home was constructed
eighty years ago in 1928 and the Leacock Museum was officially opened
fifty-years ago in 1958.

    For complete festival schedule and details visit the Leacock Museum
website at www.leacockmuseum.com or call 705.329.1908.

For further information:

For further information: Fred Addis, Producer, (705) 329-1908 x803,
Email faddis@primus.ca

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