So, Kateri couldn’t make it to the reading…
Just kidding. (Almost had you there, didn’t I?)
Actually, Kateri almost had us there. Here, wait. Let me backtrack a little bit.
Okay, so the last time I talked to you guys, I’d been worried that Kateri might cancel on us; she told me she wasn’t feeling well and I told her not to worry about the second part of the interview. I figured her health mattered more. And I worried, because that’s what I do.
Then I got an email with part two of the interview. And nothing else. Just the answers to the questions, which I was super happy with.
I was so happy with the interview that, well, I was in my own little happy bubble. I didn’t realize that my supervising professor, Dr. Morra, had not heard back from Kateri at all. We didn’t hear anything from her for a few days. Not a word.
So the day of the reading rolls by and we have no idea what to expect. We figure we’ll probably hear from Kateri a few hours before the reading, and that everything should go smoothly enough. But then 3pm comes and goes and we still haven’t heard a word. 3:30 rolls by, then 4. I start to expect the worst. Is Kateri too sick to come? Did she forget the reading was today? Did her car crash? 4:15. Was she kidnapped? Abducted by aliens? Held at ransom by some deranged fan? Ten minutes before the reading, Morra and I give up all hope of ever seeing Kateri. Hopefully, she’s still alive and doing okay. We start calculating what expenses are refundable.
By the time it’s 4:30, I’m trying to figure out how to tell people that the reading is cancelled. Sorry folks, but we seem to have lost the author.
Then, Morra’s cell phone rings. It’s Kateri. She’s a bit lost in Sherbrooke, but she should be here soon. Alexis (our amazing SWEET intern), Morra and I have never been so relieved. Morra goes outside to wait for her in the cold (oh, the things we do for readings).
When Kateri strolled into the bookstore, it was like seeing a unicorn after your parents told you they were all dead. She just strolled in like a boss, took two seconds to collect her thoughts, and then went on to give one of the best readings this series has ever seen. It was amazing.
Kateri is the third Indigenous author the reading series has ever had (she was preceded by Richard Van Camp and Armand Ruffo). May she not be the last. Most of us know close to nothing about Indigenous issues. How many of us know about residential schools? The reserves? About Indigenous history, period. Bishop’s doesn’t even have a professor for Indigenous literature. If profs (like Dr. Morra) didn’t jump out of their field to try it, then we wouldn’t even have the little that we do.
I started wondering about my interview with Kateri. Why hadn’t I asked any questions about her heritage and culture? I felt comfortable enough asking her about editing erotica, but too nervous to ask about First Nations. What does that say?
Thursday was the kind of reading that really got me thinking, which is exactly what a reading should do.
It was also a lot of fun. Her reading was fantastic. I’m going to tinker around with the blog to try and get some pictures up for you guys. Aaaaaand, if you’re good, I might even give you some details about what the supper was like (9Gag was involved).
Also, I want to say a huge thank you to the Bishop’s Bookstore, ITS, Dr. Linda Morra and Alexis Chouan. And last, but certainly not least: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm. Team awesome. Great reading guys!