Summer Literary Soirée
The Summer Literary Soirée is a free public reading and open house at Jampolis Cottage, site of the Jampolis Cottage Residency Program.
Held on August 10, 2023, the first Summer Literary Soirée featured five writers: children’s author Sheree Fitch, fiction author Deborah Hemming, nonfiction author Dean Jobb, YA fiction author Chad Lucas, and fiction author Amanda Peters.
Event attendees raised a toast to Sheree Fitch, who was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in May/June, 2023, for her outstanding contributions to children’s literature and to the Canadian literary community, as a writer, poet and literacy advocate. In particular, WFNS Board of Directors Vice President Whitney Moran, delivered the following tribute to Sheree:
[…] I stand here today as just one of countless readers who grew up with your books. Who invited monkeys into their kitchen, snuck past sleeping dragons in search of that elusive chocolate cake, whose love of words, of rhyme, whose appreciation for cadence and melody, and whose very understanding of metre and rhythm, can be traced back to your stories. (And whose love of the colour purple probably can, too.)
To say you have inspired generations of readers of all ages, and continue to do so, is an understatement. The appeal of nonsense poetry is particularly poignant in moments like this—when there is simply no word that exists to describe something, or someone. So you invent one. There is no word for a Sheree Fitch: the Fairy Godmother of Poetry; the Professor of Whimsy; the Goddess of Nonsense; the very-good-witch whose magic power has been to bestow us all with a sense of wonder. To show us where the beauty lives; to make sure that we kiss the joy before it flies away.
No one will ever truly know how much you’ve done for the literary community. How many aspiring writers you’ve nurtured; how many books you’ve championed as an independent bookseller; how many life-long readers you’ve created.
Your respect for the art of children’s literature, beginning long before the publication of your first book, Toes in My Nose, in 1987, is unparalleled and we, your audience, have grown with you as you’ve taken us on night sky rides, urged us to celebrate our differences, and reminded us to delight in the feeling of the earth beneath our summer feet.
You have taught us all, readers, writers, students, literary citizens, in your gentle way. You have mentored, workshopped, presented, discussed, and keynoted, and yet you always seek to learn more than you could possibly teach. You are a student of the world; you remain curious and humbled by it all. How lucky are we to know you, and to hold your words in our hands.
You have received a number of awards over your illustrious thirty-plus-year career, including the Mr. Christie Award for There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen, the Ann Connor Brimer Award for both Mabel Murple (1995) and EveryBody’s Different on EveryBody Street (2020), and in 1998 were awarded the prestigious Vicky Metcalf award for a body of work inspirational to Canadian children.
But tonight as we celebrate you, Sheree, we acknowledge that it is we, your readers, who have been truly rewarded, time and time again. You have, quite simply, made our lives better, brighter, more colourful, and filled with more love than we could ever have room for, and for that, we are so very grateful. […]
The event was open to the public and free to attend.
Event photos courtesy of Nicola Davison’s Snickerdoodle Photography.