The First Nations Book Fair offers a “space of freedom” for Indigenous authors

At the First Nations Book Fair, Indigenous authors enjoy more freedom than elsewhere to participate in “experimental and magical” literary evenings, says CEO Louis-Karl Picard-Sioui. The Duty I was talking to him on the occasion of the twelfth edition, which opens on Thursday in Quebec.

Friday evening will also be dedicated to a titled literary performance Rock the waters. This show, 100% “feminine”, will take place in the Multi room of the Méduse cooperative with the Anishinaabe artist Émilie Monnet, the Innue Soleil Launière and the Wendate Andrée Levesque Sioui. “This is not one show hyperlicked that is practiced for months. We bring together the authors, work on the text and then “let’s go”, it’s live. There’s a bit of a raw side to it, but it’s magic that hits home,” says Mr. Picard-Sioui, creator of Wendake.

The latter specifies that the traditional round tables and signature sessions are still on the menu, but that it is important to think outside the box by also offering workshops and services. According to him, the Kwahiatonhk Literary Cabaret! 2023 will offer a “moment of freedom” to those who participate on Saturday evening, such as Innu author Michel Jean and Inuit writer Norma Dunning. “Try something. Whether it works or not, it doesn’t matter. But I know it will work, it works all the time.”

For Thursday evening’s performance titled Aimunit nititan / I live in words, the Innu poet Joséphine Bacon, a regular at the First Nations Book Fair, will marry Alexis Vollant. The latter is a newcomer, also from Pessamit, on the North Coast. “Bringing the two together, the younger with the older, for me, is a magical moment,” says Louis-Karl Picard-Sioui.

The multigenerational aspect of this annual gathering is one of its strengths, believes multidisciplinary artist Soleil Launière. “I really feel an opening. They said, ‘Yeah, bring your five-month-old, we’ll have someone, they can help you.'” duty the one who participates for the first time in the event.

First “strong” books.

Mr. Picard-Sioui celebrates the return of event “beloveds” this year, such as the multidisciplinary artist Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, with her collection of short stories. Kanatuut. Michel Jean will also be available for his new novel Qimmik. The general director is also delighted with the presence of several emerging authors this year, such as Soleil Launière and Innue Moira-Uashteskun Bacon, with their book Fly, Mikun.

“We have strong first volumes. Because you know, an author’s first book, even the greatest, isn’t always very strong. You have to start somewhere”, he underlines.

The director general designates the first written work of Mme Launière, Acute, as one of the essentials of this new crop of writers. “This mixture of prose and poetry is very intimate, but it takes you inside. It is extraordinarily beautiful,” he says of the book published in February 2023 by Éditions du Stir-Mage.

Growing up, it was not the outward stereotype of the indigenous body that is proposed. But being indigenous has many different faces and facets.

The author, originally from Mashteuiatsh, in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, wanted to tell her own “truth” through these pages. “Growing up, it was not the external stereotype of the indigenous body that is proposed. But being indigenous has many different faces and facets. with AcuteI needed to open the door to the little girl I was and tell my own stories”, says the woman who now lives in Montreal.

Always necessary

According to Louis-Karl Picard-Sioui, there is no doubt that the First Nations Book Fair still has its relevance in society. “I think we still have something to say,” he says.

Festivals of general literature now give more space to indigenous authors, he acknowledges. The event that will take place from November 16 to 19 in Quebec City will, however, allow new writers to be presented who are not necessarily still part of the literary circuit.

He who refers to himself as the ” Animator of indigenous literatures” is thinking of changing his nickname, he says with a laugh. “It’s been 10 years, I’m starting to get tired of this title, I’ll have to look for a new one. I am a bit of a matchmaker: both between the authors and the public, obviously, but also between the authors themselves, who know each other. »

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