I could've listened to Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson read all morning and the questions from the Stratford Festival audience proved almost as interesting. Someone wanted to know how we can save Canadian public broadcasting. Another woman complained about the Conservative's attack ads on Liberal leader Stephane Dion, questioning why the Tories can't run on their own record and policies.

These may seem odd comments/questions to aim at a couple of writers but they demonstrate the deep frustration of Canadians who care about the arts and transparent, forward-thinking government. The Conservative party doesn't pretend to care about the arts (and only recently half-woke up to the fact that Canadians are concerned about the environment) - and the people who do are desperate for both action and a voice. To these people - the people in attendance at the Stratford reading - Graeme Gibson and Margaret Atwood's involvement in the arts and various environmental causes make them cultural leaders.

As for the answers to those questions, Graeme Gibson replied that the Tory ads are a substitute for policy, content and principle, which garnered heavy applause. Margaret Atwood noted that someone in power didn't “like the sound of a voice speaking unless it was his.” Gibson also spoke of national broadcaster CBC dumbing itself down, bowing to the power of the marketplace. Margaret Atwood urged people to pen handwritten, strongly worded letters to the CBC criticizing recent programming decisions.

The final question of the morning came from a young man who declared that he felt like a puppet on a string when reading - at the mercy of the author. Atwood suggested the reader always has the power to close the book or throw it across the room. She compared books to sheet music: the reader is the musician and the book doesn't really come to life unless it's being read.

The rest of the day looked like this:
Margaret Atwood & Graeme Gibson Book Signing in Stratford

Swans on The Avon

Book Stage, Stratford

River Avon, Stratford, Ontario

Stratford Plaque
Stratford City Hall

Lonely Canoe
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