On being local: a writer’s love affair with Kingston, Ontario

I write academic articles and historical fiction and get caught up in old arguments made by people long gone and far away, but on bright weekends like the 2019 Kingston WritersFest, I sometimes think there’s no more wonderful story than the one unfolding all around me. This past weekend is even further proof that Kingston, Ontario is one of the most charming places for writers to live, the kind of city where creative lives intertwine in unexpected and wonderful ways.

IMG_4267I can’t imagine another place where I would know Jason Heroux, the city’s reigning Poet Laureate, as the former owner of a laundromat where 20 years ago I did homework as my sheets dried, or where my generous and engaging moderator during my presentation at the Festival would be Ying Lee, not only an award-winning author of Victorian YA mysteries but also an old friend from school! And of course the whole reason I was even at the WritersFest was because of the encouragement and mentorship of Helen Humphreys, the local award-winning poet and novelist whom I met when she was Artist-in-Residence in my department at RMC. And what’s just as special? The City of Kingston recognizes the value of stories intersecting: it has its own initiative–Your Stories, Our Histories–that actively seeks out community engagement to enrich the ongoing cultural narrative of the very city itself.

IMG_4266Aboard the 1000 Islands Cruise boat for a brief spin around the harbour with other WritersFest authors when the Festival kicked off, the ship held still under the shadow of Fort Henry, in view of the wonderful college where I work. Afterwards, as the Fall evening gathered around us, there was really no question what would happen next–the enjoyment of another local, of course! Where did Soheir, Jason and I head? To Sally’s Roti Shop, for a quick bite of Trinidadian deliciousness. Then I walked across the causeway, taking pictures of the moon.

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