Literature ready to take its place beside seafood and scenery on the South Shore

by Charles Mandel

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Journalist Pauline Dakin.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Romeo Dallaire, author of Shake Hands with the Devil</p>

The Lunenburg Literature Festival's headliner this year has an important date the next day after his Friday night reading: An audience with the Pope.

Retired Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire is due in Rome, where the Pope will endorse the former Canadian solider's global partnership to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Papal visits aside, Troy Myers, the CEO and chief librarian of South Shore Public Libraries, is counting his lucky stars he was able to snag Dallaire for a reading at the festival.

"As you're probably aware, he's a pretty busy guy," Myers said of Dallaire to LighthouseNOW. "He couldn't commit."

Dallaire told the festival that he loved the idea, but after six months of courtship they were still no closer to pinning him down for a reading at the festival.

At the last minute the former Senator and author of an acclaimed memoir on dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder reassured Myers he'd appear at the festival.

It's the second year for the festival, and it's pulling in some strong names in CanLit to come read from their works.

Terry Fallis, a two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, is coming to Lunenburg, as is journalist Pauline Dakin, who will read from her newly released memoir, Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood.

Other authors include Stephen Kimber (What Lies Across the Water), and Janet Maybee (Aftershock: The Halifax Explosion) will participate in an afternoon panel of nonfiction authors.

Nino Ricci, author of such acclaimed novels as The Lives of the Saints, will discuss his latest bestseller, Sleep.

Even Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, MLA for Lunenburg, is getting in on the act. She's read a story to children at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.

The festival has come a long way in one year. The first year Myers said it was a challenge to attract authors to come and read at the fledgling festival.

"This year we had authors and agents cold-calling us and saying, 'Look, we heard great things last year and we'd like to part of it.' It's a good position to be in," Myers said.

He adds that "Lunenburg is one of those venues that is a natural attraction for authors who might not know South Shore Nova Scotia's charms."

Moving ahead, Myers has what he refers to as a "grand vision." He imagines linking Lunenburg's festival to Port Medway's literary festival and perhaps adding third location in Lunenburg County.

"Just like Nova Scotia is getting known for its scenery and its seafood, I'd like it to be known as a place to come here and engage with authors in the summertime," Myers said.

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