PEN Uncensored Benefit and Gala

Politics and prose have been comfortable bedfellows in the West for some time now. But sometimes politics starts snoring and prose has to elbow him in the ribs. The PEN Canada benefit was just such a shot. Hosted by Ann-Marie MacDonald, it featured award winning authors from around the world, including Wole Soyinka, Wayson Choy, Azar Nafisi, Miriam Toews and M.G. Vassanji.

Kim Bolan won the Paul Kidd Courage Prize and delivered an excellent speech. The readings dragged for a bit until Mr. Wayston Choy. He was funny, entertaining and insightful.

But the night was all about African Noble Laureate Wole Soyinka. His prose was recited in a halting manner that found its own rhythm; quite unrelated to any reading I had ever heard before. Even better, much of his story was about cold beer.

Adrianne Clarkson showed up at the Gala and once again proved herself to be fascinating woman and great conversationalist; tolerant of my boozy breath and strange, though strongly held, opinions.

This was the sort of politics that I could get into. Instead of being surrounded by shabby hippies shouting slogans at surly cops, I was at a gala, surrounded by the literati. We drank wine, ate hors d'oeuvres and no one was arrested. This was the sort of place where politics really happen. The sort of place I usually can't afford.


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