The Reading Series is not exclusive to the Writers Festival weekend. Photo: Via Google Maps. Edits: Rame Abdulkader.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ottawa reading series features authors from across the globe

Every year, the Ottawa Writers Festival engages some of the city’s most literary-minded people with events, workshops, and readings.

However, the bi-annual festival is the not the only time of year when fans of literature can sit around and listen to some of their favourite authors—it can also be a great time to find out what other events are routinely held in Ottawa.

One worth checking out is the Plan 99 Reading Series, with the latest rendition that hosted three authors at the Manx on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 and ran parallel with the festival.

“It’s just a really great opportunity to bring people in from out of town, get them to read. (I think that) people also really like (that) they can have a drink afterward, and talk to the authors,” explained David O’Meara, an employee of the bar, and the event’s organizer.

O’Meara told the Fulcrum that the Plan 99 Reading Series has been incorporated into the Ottawa Writers Festival for the past 10 years as a way to promote the works of independent emerging writers.

“We’ve been running the reading series here since 1999, which is why it’s called Plan 99, so it’s been 19 years,” he explained.

The Saturday night event, which filled the small bar with around 20 people, featured three authors from various parts of the world—Martha Bàtiz, D. Nandi Odhiambo, and Tamara Faith Berger.

Each of the three authors read small segments of books that had vastly different topics—from erotic scenes, to the bonds made by immigrants in Toronto.

“It’s special for us, because it’s a part of the Ottawa festival, but as far as programming (goes), it’s not that much different,” said O’Meara. “We usually have two to three readers, (and) we’re always trying to bring in authors who have put out recent books, so they can promote their writing and it’s fresh to the audience. It might be their first opportunity to hear from their book and decide to pick up a copy or not.”

The series, which runs at 5 p.m. to beat the bar’s busy times, features between four and five reading sessions in all seasons except for the summer—when there is added competition from other festivals and nicer weather, explained O’Meara.

However, O’Meara maintained that it is worth trekking out to the Manx when the Ottawa weather gets colder.

“It’s magic… when there’s a crowd in here, and … snow is falling outside, (and) everybody’s got a drink—it’s a very intimate space for people to kick back, have a drink, and listen to the authors reading from their work—it’s really magic.”

Occasionally, the bar also features some light-hearted moments as well, O’Meara explained—like the time that the series featured Michael Winter, and he sang a song for O’Meara’s cat.

“Usually we put people up in hotels, but I know him quite well, so he stayed at my place … and when he was doing his reading (at the series), he (brought) along his guitar and sang a song for my cat,” O’Meara laughed. “I think that he made it up on the spot.”

Indeed, O’Meara described the event as a place for lovers of literature to come, laugh, and enjoy the best that novels and poetry have to offer.

“So, I love the literature, and we also like to promote what’s new, (with a) different perspective on things.”

To find out more about the Plan 99 Reading Series, or to stay up-to-date with their future events, check out the Manx’s Facebook page.