L’Association des libraires du Quebec and Le Conseil des arts de Montréal are giving a unique opportunity to two writers to take up residence in two local bookstores that opened in 2020. A writers residence grant is being offered that allows a writer to engage in an artistic project that fosters a connection between a working artist and the people of a neighbourhood with a hosting bookstore serving as the cultural intermediary.
La Librairie Saga Bookstore of NDG plans to host a writer on the theme of “Supernatural NDG”, well in keeping with the bookstore’s focus on speculative fiction/literature such as sci fi, fantasy, magic realism, and the fantastical. La Livrerie is hosting a project on “The Great North”. Although the writers program has been around since 2014, this is the first time that Le Conseil des arts de Montréal opened funding to two bookstores.
Unlike a writer’s residence that simply supports the creation of a work, the grant is intended more for cultural meditation. Writers propose a project that generates interaction with the community. Lauzon-Dicso, co-proprietor of Saga Bookstore, explains that the grant will allow for bookstore and the writer to have meet-ups and activities in person at the store and within the neighbourhood of NDG. “We wish to bring the selected author’s work outside of our own walls,” he says.
According to Lauzon-Dicso, the motivation to have Saga Bookstore participate fits with the bookstore’s overall goals to go beyond a place of commerce. “We applied because after opening during the pandemic, we want to be present and active in our community with various activities throughout the year,” Lauzon-Dicso says. “This kind of author’s residence fits perfectly with what we wish to achieve here.”
Saga is a new bilingual bookstore in Montreal celebrating a variety of speculative fiction genres: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and magic realism.Its surreal start could very well have come from the pages of one of the books on the store shelves. Planning for the store began in 2019, but then just as they were about to open, COVID struck. A pop-up storefront on Sherbooke allowed Saga to host community events, including inviting 15 different authors for readings and Q&As. But, for a period of time after its inception, the store transitioned to an online presence only owing to the ever-challenging obstacle course created by COVID regulations and circumstances.
Lauzon-Dicso and co-owner and husband Ilya Razykov persisted, packing books at night for delivery the next day. Lauzon-Dicso spent his days driving up to 7 hours a day” from St. Jerome to St Jean sur Richelieu, stopping in Blainville and Laval, as well as east to west” to deliver books to their readers. “It was hard work,” he says, “but we had to pleasure to meet our readers in person, to exchange with them, to bond with our community.”
Finally in September 2020, La Librairie Saga found a space in NDG and opened its doors in December. With a robust series of readings, Q&As, and other community events offered, the bookstore is fulfilling its mandate to connect readers, authors, and the neighbourhood.
Saga has also started its first crowdfunding campaign to build its inventory and organize even more events and activities for its community. Just like the store’s opening, even the crowdfunding stored down an initial hurdle straight out of a sci-fi story: the six hour Facebook/IG shutdown. After that, pledges began to arrive and with 21 days left and 75% pledged, it looks like the fundraising campaign at Ruche is going well.
Writers interested in applying for the grant can get info HERE. La Livrerie is at 1376 Ontario E and La Librairie Saga Bookstore is at 5574 Upper Lachine. To support Saga’s fundraising campaign, head HERE.