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April 11, 2002 Storytellers converge at the Blue Metropolis literary festival



by Barbara Black

Numerous Concordians were involved in last week’s Blue Metropolis international literary festival.

One of the events was the wind-up of a short story competition, in whose announcement of winners, alas, the CBC Radio One organizers and jurors could not participate because of a strike. However, the event took place as planned, and participants were given a free copy of the book of outstanding stories from the past three years.

It is called Telling Stories: New English Stories from Quebec, and is edited by Claude Lalumière. The publishers are Véhicule Press, run by Simon Dardick, who teaches in Concordia’s English Department, and Nancy Marrelli, University Archivist.

One of this year’s winners is by Matthew Anderson, who teaches in the Theological Studies Department. Called Encomium, it’s about a clergyman preparing for a funeral, trying to put together an appropriate tribute to a woman whom he has never met. He finds he must cut through the clichés and generalities of her family’s remarks to find the kernel of individuality that gave her life meaning.

One of the honourable mentions from 2000-01 was written by Linda Dyer, better known as associate professor of management in the John Molson School of Business.

Linda says she took a course in creative writing through Continuing Education. Then she heard about the short story competition, and thought, why not put that course to work? Her story, called Feeding Him, is a vignette of a caregiver concentrating on her patient, a man who can no longer communicate his needs, but who finds a way of expressing them.

Marla Becking, assistant to the chair of Canadian Jewish Studies, wrote one of the prizewinning stories from 1999-2000. Called Pneumonia, it’s a harrowing glimpse into the so-called healing process of a woman who has inadvertently caused the deaths of those dearest to her.

There are no doubt many others from Concordia involved in the Blue Met, a highly successful festival that has already become a Montreal institution and drawing-card for writers and avid readers. In fact, the founding organizer is Linda Leith, who has taught over the years in the English Department.