|JonArno Lawson - poet, and author of children's and YA books, at Thin Air in 2012.|
Do you ever find that you associate a much-loved book with the place where you first read it? Just this week I picked up a book again that I read for the first time last year while I was in Winnipeg - A.K. Ramanujan's translation of a selection of Hindu vacanas called "Speaking of Siva". I first read it while eating by myself at Yuki Sushi on Main Street. The sushi was great, the service was very good, and the book was amazing.
This got me to thinking about the other times I enjoyed enormously at the festival. These included my car-conversations with festival publicist Bruce Symaka and with Mike Diehl. Both of them were very thoughtful and generous conversationalists. I also enjoyed the other very fine writers I met, the fine writing I got to hear read aloud, and the lovely people I met doing workshops.
Most moving for me was a workshop I did with an adult ESL class at the Winnipeg Adult Education Centre in downtown Winnipeg. Many of the students came from First Nations backgrounds, and their stories reignited my interest in learning about the languages, literature, and culture of the First Nations in Canada today.
Transformative personal encounters are very much what Thin Air was all about for me, both times that I came out. Thin Air reaches far beyond the week it takes place in, and beyond the place it takes place in.
JonArno Lawson has written several award-winning books for children, as well as YA fiction and poetry for adults. He was a guest reader at Thin Air in 2008 and 2012. He lives in Toronto with his wife and three children.