A Reading Begets Another

I participated in the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative’s 7th Exchanging Notes Literary Cabaret a few weeks ago, where I read my creative non-fiction piece Countdown. It’s about my grandmother’s last years with us, during which we rediscovered our relationship through the lens of Alzheimer Disease. My reading was accompanied by John Priest on the violin.

A photo and tweet about my reading from writing partner and good friend Sophie Tolias.

A photo and tweet about my reading from writing partner and good friend Sophie Tolias.


Following the Cabaret reading, I got an email from fellow writer Amy S. Mark, inviting me to read Countdown and another excerpt (I’ve opted to read from my short story collection Where Pigeons Roost) at the Indie authors’ Wordjammin’ 2015 event this weekend:

A Celebration of Independent Authors

Join some of Canada’s best indie authors 
as they read excerpts from their works.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

2:00 — 6:00 pm

Yellow Griffin Pub

2202 Bloor Street West

(just steps from the Runnymede subway station)

Find out more about the authors reading at the Wordjamm here: http://www.wordjamm.com/authors-bios.html.

I’ll be reading at 4:55 p.m. I don’t know what the audience will think of the contrast between a staccato yet touching retelling of a loved one’s demise and the dark humour of killing pigeons for sport – I suppose death is an inadvertent theme, here – but I am looking forward to finding out. Each author’s Wordjamm reading is followed by a question-and-answer session from the audience. I’ll share how it goes in an upcoming post.

A Reading is a Performance

« A reading is a performance, » said Terry Fallis* in one of his University of Toronto Building An Audience courses.

(Award Gala photo by Danielle Maheu)

Maybe I revive this outfit for one of the readings?
(Award Gala photo by Danielle Maheu)

With three readings coming up over the next few months, I have reviewed my notes on the subject for a few hints that can help prepare the best performance possible:

1. Choose a section that reflects the book / that reflects you as a writer.

2. Make eye contact with the audience.

3. When reading, it’s good to « act » the characters a little.

4. Use your voice as your instrument. Adjust your voice/performance to fit the writing. Change volume – lower the voice for dramatic moments (but not so much as to be inaudible) and raise the voice for excitement.

5. Vary the pace – slow down to add drama; use pauses, let the audience hang before delivering a punchline (coup de grâce), or speed up for intensity.

6. Practice, practice, practice. Before the reading, try out your piece. Practice in front of friends, or in front of a mirror. You can even time yourself, so that you know how long your reading takes.

I’ve been rehearsing my readings, timer at hand, to help me choose the best sections. Want to know which I picked? Feel free to attend any one (or all) of the readings to find out!


*I know, I know, sometimes I should just call my blog a fan page for this award-winning author…

A Reading In Absentia

A few weeks ago, my mother, who coordinates a programme for seniors in Ottawa called Creative Connections, held a reading of my work for the programme’s participants.

I wasn’t there.

My mum read for me: my short story A Treat (excerpt here), and two non-fiction pieces, Maman’s Hands and Sunborrowers and Watering Cans.

The positive response is humbling; « they want more! » shares my mum by email.

They meet once a week – I better get writing.