Tuesday, March 16, 2010

midnight in moncton


one of the unexpectedly interesting sides to being a novelist is that it takes you to some strange places. a month ago, i had lunch at the halifax club - that fancy, upper-crust old city gathering place. they insist it's changed, that it's a new club, and maybe it is, but most of the guests were well-heeled, old-school haligonians. still, lunch was free.

on saturday, i was invited to moncton for 'moncton 24', an art project from daniel dugas. he and a group of organizers arranged for 24 writers to cover 24 hours in moncton, 60 minutes at a time. starting at midnight, a writer picked a spot in the city, sat down, and wrote what came to her over a 60-minute period. the moncton 24 team sent photogs around to snap each writer in situ and is going to publish the results in the journal ancrages. i was starting to feel like the victim of an elaborate hoax - perhaps that nigerian banker had changed tactics and was now emailing invites to writers to sit alone in strange cities. the lady at the moncton b&b hadn't heard of it, and neither had my moncton friend. this was cleared up somewhat when i discovered the project's creator and most of the writers are francophone (the link to the journal has been google-translated).

they invited me after christmas at the airport and it really was the kind of thing i love to do. i hesitated and first when they asked me where i'd like to write, but a second later i knew i wanted to be in a church in the wee hours. they gave me the last slot of the day - 11pm to midnight - and i opted for notre dame cathedral. i tried to get inside, but kept getting passed from phone number to phone number and then decided being outside would work just fine.

a couple of weeks before moncton 24, a halifax friend's mother got sick in moncton, so we planned to carpool up so she and her son could visit. the wednesday before the event, her mother died - the funeral was held the same saturday as moncton 24.

it made for a sombre, celebratory first trip to the city. hours after the funeral, i plonked myself down on the front steps of the darkened and well-locked cathedral and a near-empty street. it was cold and dark, so i sat in the shadows and wrote what i saw. i sent it in yesterday morning and will post it here when it goes up on their site.
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