Sunday, January 27, 2013

No Library Like A Human Library... Eh

The CBC and the Atwater Public Library presented:

This past Saturday - from 11 AM to 4 PM... 
And I was there! 
Well, I passed by, really... 
As I usually do whenever I'm in MTL! 
I'm an Out-of-Towner - see? 
And, somewhere deep in my heart, 
I do believe that I will always be... a ''450''. 
But that is another story. 
Back to ATWATER...

January 26th was declared 
National Human Library Day 
by some lit wit in Ottawa, the nation's capital -
please note, here, the difference between 
lit wit and nitwit - please! 
Though it can vary from huge to slight, 
depending on the books, the cases 
and yes, sure, the bookcases too - 
the difference is there to stay 
in all cases. 
Case closed. 

Look at the picture -
how evocative it is! 

Although it is a tiny wee bit of false publicity there 
(there was no fireman, for instance -
the token black guy was there, yes, right front and center too; 
but what are the other three supposed to represent: 
a winner, a bachelorette and a working mom? 
None of those made it either...)
It truly says it all: 
which is odd because 
in a literary context, 
the last thing we'd want to convey 
is that words are probably superfluous  
and instead of picking up a book 
to read them, 
we are as well or just better served by 
direct interaction with individuals 
as flawed as they can be! 
Then again, they all committed 
or want to commit 
flawed books - 
so, either way, 
it all boils down to the exact same experience! 
Now, isn't that ironic...! 

I got there too late, 
and, besides, one needed to reserve 
one,s spot with any one of these luminaries 
in order to truly exchange -
to have a real conversation 
with one of these real persons... 
One section was entirely used for these exchanges 
and the other, where the computers are, 
had three more of the special humans 
hosting guests interested in ``litty`` repartee... 
From what I saw, 
it went awesomely well 
for all participants 
didn't want to leave 
once the timekeeper sounded 4 o'clock...! 
Twenty minutes were allowed per conversation-session 
and it would appear that it simply wasn't enough! 
I was perusing some books and mags 
in the hallowed halls 
of this most petite library 
that doubles as the QWF headquarters, 
among many other things...
I imagine that, elsewhere in Canada, 
they must have been able to hold similar events 
in similar smallish venues...?  
Or, is it possible that, 
in tons such as Regina... Saskatoon... 
they couldn't even find 13 willing, 
and interesting, 
participants for such an event...?
Well, in La Belle Province 
(that isn't - Belle, that is) 
the promotion made sure that the 
lucky number of participants 
came front and center:
13, count 'em, 13 
low profile 
no profile 
participants -
in this order: 
Father John Walsh: Catholic priest, former radio host, and interfaith blogger
Rabbi Lisa Grushcow: Openly gay, married parent of two children
with Rabbi Andrea Myers:  Rabbi Grushcow's partner 
Frank Verpaelst: Musician, computer support technician, inspirational blogger and a dwarf
David Testo: Former Impact player and gay advocate
Lela Savic: Romani, activist for her community,student
Kim Thúy: Lawyer and author of Ru, 2012 Giller Prize nominee 
Jason Edward Lewis: First Nations game designer and Concordia University professor
Andrew Pleveots: Former bully, who works with LOVE -reaching out to youth at risk 
Roksana Bahramitash: Iranian immigrant, feminist and academic
Andrew Chang: CBC News Montreal co-anchor
Marlene Jennings: Executive Director of the YM-YWHA, former MP 
Gabrielle Bouchard: Trans and an advocate for trans people at Concordia University
Georges Laraque: Former NHL enforcer and sports commentator

Nope - Ottawa or Montreal (both) are NOT superstitious! 
Thirteen "Human Library Books" it is...! 
Entering the place, I immediately noticed 
a few of them: 
Georges always stands out, for one - 
Lela Savic, thanks to the big sign 
bearing her name
right in front of her, 
was second...  
Roksana was third -
 with a last name like that, 
know what I mean...
I never did spot the blogging priest, 
blogging dwarf 
or the two lesbian rabbis. 
Fir, if I had had found the time to 
``reserve`` my 20 minutes of convo, 
it would have been with one of those...! 
Or maybe the former bully. 
We'll never really know, I suppose! 

The CBC was filming this, with one presumes 
a bunch of hidden cameras; 
there were signs warning that we,d be filmed, 
barely visible as they were, 
all over the place... 
I don't mind one bit; 
Luciano was here! 
And it was a waste of time 
that I had to waste, in the first place
so all is well...

Though it was well organized and all, 
this event lacked in many ways -
one was in generating proper interest. 
After all is said and done, 
it is somewhat sad to see 
a big fat zero comments 
on the page 
devoted to this...

Kudos for trying to keep interest alive 
elsewhere on the web, at least -
as on Twitter, there was a hosted 
``live event`` simultaneously to all this - 
web surfers were invited to 
''keep the conversation alive'' 
by using the hashtag 
The original (though timid at best) 
promo for this event also invited 
one and all 
to check out an interactive map
(back at indeed) 
in order to sample ''books'' 
(the word 'books' specifically placed 
between quotation marks, yes - 
how suspicious...!)  
and these were purported to be 
''books'' from across the country, too! 
Hence my suspicion that, yes, 
other Canadian cities were holding similar events... 
There are tons of former bullies, 
former athletes out-of-the-closet 
and former political party leaders even 
in this God-forsaken country 
north of the 49th parallel 
that have something to say 
and that would want to talk to you
- for twenty minutes, tops! 
They all have memoirs to write afterwards, 
so no further time to waste - 
but they'll retain your e-mail addies, 
for further book-promoting purposes 
once said books are completed...!

 And even better than that, it read like this
when it came time to announce this thing: 
has partnered with the 
to host this one of a kind event - 
On Saturday, January 26
Montrealers are invited to engage 
with human "books" 
from various backgrounds and occupations 
and get the chance to have frank 
and open conversations with people 
they might not otherwise meet.
(Ha - you'd be surprised...) 
To sign-up for a conversation with one of them, 
please send an email 
indicating the time 
you'd like to reserve your book for. 
(''BOOK'' - in THAT certain sense, yes...)
The 20 minutes conversations 
will be held at the Atwater Library 
in Montreal between 11 am - 4pm.
13 people from the Montreal area 
have volunteered to be a "book" 
and share their stories with members of the public.  
Above we saw is the list of the diverse individuals 
who have volunteered their time as Human "Books".
Human Books - 
For complete Bios/descriptions 
of all the participants 
click HERE 

New definitions of the age-old expression 
''to be (or not to be) an open book'' 
beg to be written, after this... 
If only Webster's would oblige... 
As I told one of the staffers there 
(volunteers, too?) 
especially after hearing that there were 
GIFT BAGS to be distributed at the end, 
''I hope they do this annually, Michelle!'' 
(her name was Michelle - duh.)

But seriously now... 

This is either objectifying human beings/writers/whatever 
or it is an objectionable exercise in advertisement 
for so painfully obvious...
(we know, for a fact, that Georges has a book to sell - 
and it is amazing, too: 
no, not the book, or the "book" as it is defined here 
but rather it is amazing that a goon like him 
can read at all - let alone partner with 
a ghostwriter to pen something...) 

Most everyone there either already has 
or dreams of having 
a book to peddle... 
Georges, again, is the prime example:
he's been to several such "events" recently... 
How long before the blogging priest, 
gay advocate, First Nations teach, 
former MP or co-anchor 
commit something that their mere semblance 
of notoriety will attract a publisher to...?  

Shame on you all, ``Human Books``
And shame on the CBC! 
(Always the poor man's CBS, I see...
But that's another story!) 



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