The world’s only multilingual literary festival, Blue Met has grown over the years and is now considered a major literary event with about 300 participating writers.
The festival attracts world famous authors who participate in talks, panel discussions, workshops and readings. Unexpectedly, these events are held in many languages other than French and English. Italian, Arabic, Hungarian, Farsi and, for the first time, Urdu.
The theme of this year’s festival is “Words That Matter”, which examines words worth writing, words worth reading, writers worth quoting and writings worth teaching. The goal being that the events at Blue Metropolis will give the audience a better understanding of the writer’s role on the world stage, a venue that can be hostile and dangerous to those with an independent voice.
The star of the festival and winner of this year’s Blue Metropolis International Literary Grand Prix is the timeless and inimitable Dame A.S. Byatt. Byatt is best known for her 1990 Booker Prize-winning novel Possession as well as Angels & Insects, both of which were adapted into films. Byatt has produced more than two dozen works of fiction. She is best known for her ability to weave historic events and personalities into her work and is also strongly influenced by her interest in biology and philosophy. Byatt’s latest, The Children’s Book, will have its international launch on the festival’s opening night.
Other events span a wide spectrum of subjects and showcase writers from around the world. This year, the festival will bring back the incredibly popular Writers in Peril series that was featured in last year’s line-up. Writers and journalists from around the world will speak of the oppression they suffered in order to tell their stories, and the stories of others. One of the highlights on the remarkable list of speakers is world-renowned photojournalist Reza, who established Aina, an NGO dedicated to training journalists and establishing newspapers and other media outlets in Afghanistan.
But not all the events are quite so heavy. Check out CBC’s Johnathan Goldstein’s (Wiretap) take on the bible in conversation with CBC host Jian Ghomeshi (Q) at Ladies and Gentlemen – The Bible!
Events range in cost from free to $10 – cheaper than a movie. There are also writing workshops offered at $85 each.
The 11th annual Blue Metropolis Festival is set to open on April 22 and will run until April 26. Festival programs can be picked up at local bookstores, cultural centres and online at www.bleumetropolis.org.