Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Canadian Authors Association - West Coast Branch - March 14, 2012
Laura and I arrived fashionably late for an evening soiree of  culture. Every month an international gathering of Vancouver wordsmiths "happens" at the Alliance for Arts and Culture, 938 Howe Street.
A brilliant man was reading an extraordinary piece of literature. I had rather hoped to pop in when Bob Mackay, the chapter president was doing house keeping chores and announcements so I could enter with flair making profuse excuses in a loud stage whisper.  Bob is a published writer and his Soldier of the Horse novel is doing remarkably well in print so in such good humor, he'd merely be amused. . This handsome older gentleman with  robust and humorous prose was unknown to me. One dare's not interrupt an unknown writer in their reading as they might well  fashion you as an  immoral character in some future famous writing.
Tonight's main entertainment though was Hal Wake.
He shared that he began as a very 'shy and awkward child' whose sister forced him to join Coop Radio. For  20 years he was the literary reviewer for CBC. Peter Gzowski's Morningside was running 6 literary interviews a week while he was reading 3 books a week trying to keep up.  Now he's the artistic director for Vancouver's International Writer's Festival which for 25 years has turned Granville Island in August into a place of ideas.  Every year a hundred writers come to read, discuss, and mingle with the 14,000 readers who flock to this most beautiful of cities..  Every two weeks at the Vancouver Library throughout the year  there are readings held as well. The idea of a reading itself has grown with accompanying music, panel discussions and interviews.  His own interview with Alice Munro was remembered for the 450 person standing ovation that went on for many minutes.   "I give all credit to the founders," Hal said, with the humility and generosity that characterized his whole presentation.
He asked though that the 50 or so people who had come out  that black and rainy night to share in this intimate gathering to keep  his words secret.    I wasn't sure what he was most concerned about as he had told us with great candour Elizabeth Hay had shared  the  story of him in the closet.
The word "secret'  however triggered the Chinese and CIA  devices lurking in all the room's  cell phones. Complete audio reports of his disclosures of humorous and frankly generous anecdotes about the gazillion writers he'd  known were instantly emailed to the world's intelligence services.  At the same time a previously unnoticed red coated  parrot crossed with a carrier pigeon took flight departing the hall to fly out the open door. The red coated  parrot pigeon was  a Canadian low budget intelligence alternative that would fly to Ottawa where it would repeat word for word all Hal Wake had said, albeit a week or two later.
Even before the poor Canadian Parrot Pigeon spy was flying over Sudbury, the complete text of Hal Wake's presentation was being spread throughout Homeland Security. Global intelligence types, given the oxymoron, were reading Canadian playwrights in search of desperate acts. As the poor parrot pigeon was landing atop the parliament buildings Wikileaks had disclosed the latest opinions of Americans, Chinese, Korean, Russian, British, Israeii, Japanese , Saudi and for unknown reasons PEI ministers about Hal Wake.  The file was code named "Anne of Green Gables"
Once the red sage  parrot pigeon  was retrieved, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, after a timely briefing, declined to answer questions by the opposition party about Hal Wakes.
The Vancouver International Writers Festival 2012 would go on to even greater acclaim as a result of all the covert publicity. It helped too that someone leaked to a Quebec Member of Parliament that the now famous red sage parrot pigeon was indeed not bilingual. The bird, flushed from the federal service, returned to Granville Island where it was last seen cavorting with one of the local Bald Headed Eagles.

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