It is a little market town in Wales, but to literature fans and other artistic types, it is much more than that. The community of Hay-on-Wye is the centre of the annual Hay Festival that runs in May, but has since expanded to over thirteen locations. It is a meeting of literary and artistic minds, and for the first time this year, the Hay Festival’s Colombia branch now has a strong Canadian connection. Blue Metropolis, the annual Montreal literary festival, in conjunction with the Canada Council for the Arts, have combined forces to create a project that will be presented at the 2015 Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia. “Window on Canada” allows Colombia and the rest of Latin America to get a glimpse on the literary and artistic people of Canada, which, according to Gregory McCormick, the Director of Programming at Blue Metropolis, recognises the importance of Canada not only on the domestic plan but also an international one.
Four distinguished Canadian writers will attend the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia, a well-chosen place, being the setting of many of the late writer Gabriel García Marquez’s novels (Of Love and Other Demons, Love in the Time of Cholera). Graphic novelist Réal Godbout (Kafka’s America) will be speaking on January 29 at the UNIBAC (a professional arts school) with John Naranjo, editorial director of Rey Naranjo Editores. On January 30 at the Hotel Sofitel, writer Kim Thúy (Université de Montréal, whose debut novel Ru won the Governor General’s Award for French literature) will discuss “Writing What’s Important” with Kenyan writer and activist Binyavanga Wainaina. Steven Pinker (author of The Better Angels of our Nature), psychology and linguist professor at Harvard University (and fellow McGill graduate) will discuss his work and careerwith Juan Diego Velez, professor at the University of Colombia at the Adolfo Mejía theatre on January 31. Finally, poet Annharte will participate in two different conversations about Indigenous writing in the Americas on January 28 at the Parque Explora with Ingrid Bejerman (Concordia University) and January 30 at the Hotel Sofitel with Juan Luis Mejia (University of Paris), the former of which is also part of the Hay Festival’s Mendellin branch. While these four talented writers are the main headliners for the Hay Festival Cartagena, there are other distinguished artists that are coming to represent Canada as well, including the musician Brian Eno, Prix Goncourt winner Laurent Binet, writer Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker, Nobel Prize winner J. M. G. Le Clézio, writer Andrew Solomon, and poet Wendy Guerra.
Like any discipline, the arts is truly a dialogue. The 2015 Hay Festival at Cartagena is a promising year of conversation that runs from the January 29th to February 1st. Tickets for the 2015 Hay Festival Cartagena are still on sale. For more information, see the Hay Festival Cartagena page here. Accommodations during the festival and special packages are available (information here). The Hay Festival Cartagena also has an official website (in Spanish) at www.hayfestivalcartagena.org.