High Level Lit Salons Read Canada 150

By Dawn Carter

Late to the (Confederation) Party

In an interview with Edmonton Community Foundation’s Well Endowed Podcast, Paula Simons, one of the High Level Lit anthology contributors, noted that Alberta didn’t join Confederation until 1905, so it never belonged to the Upper and Lower Canada narrative. Technically speaking, Alberta is marking Canada 112, not Canada 150, so what are we acknowledging as Albertans, as Edmontonians, and as indigenous people, when we talk about Canada 150? What’s our story? This is where the High Level Lit Salon series comes in, where audiences learn about the multiple histories that intersect in the land we know as Edmonton.

High Level Lit: A YEG literary partnership begins

Edmonton Community Foundation initiated the High Level Lit partnership by bringing Eighteen Bridges Magazine together with LitFest to commission 12 writers to contribute their thoughts about Canada’s sesquicentennial from an Edmontonian perspective. The pieces will be issued together in an anthology issue of the magazine, which will be released at LitFest 2017. In the meantime, throughout the year LitFest is hosting salon events for the contributing authors to read their works-in-progress and engage in a Q&A with local audiences.

Sarah Chan (host), Minister Faust, and Jalal Barsanji at High Level Lit in March 2017

Sarah Chan (host), Minister Faust, and Jalal Barsanji at the first High Level Lit Salon

Heavy-hitting salon readers Minister Faust, Anna Marie Sewell, Darrin Hagen

The readings become more intriguing with each new Salon. At the first salon, Minister Faust read a piece that began at the candy store his grandfather owned on 95th Street, then teleported listeners into the story of his mother, a young teacher and activist who has a son named Malcolm. In the second salon, Anna Marie Sewell spoke about how soldiers in wartime Poland dashed her grandmother’s bread to the ground, rendering her existence unpalatable. This spurs Anna Marie’s grandmother to move her family to Canada, to safety.

We also learned from Darrin Hagen that Edmonton’s queer history is everyone’s history.  He reminded us that it was no coincidence that the Edmonton Fringe Festival emerged during the HIV/AIDS crisis. In a future salon, Paula Simons will share an alternative history in which Alberta declines joining the Confederation. We encourage everyone to come out to the salons to hear these stories and join the conversations.

Stay tuned for our next High Level Lit salon on September 6

LitFest is proud to host the readings, which are free and include hors d’oeuvres for the audience. Our next salon is on September 6, 2017 at the Mercury Room. Tickets will be available on Eventbrite closer to the salon’s scheduled date.

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