Arts Seen – week of Feb 27 2014

Freedom to Read Week celebrations

Local radio personality Dave Rutherford will be receiving Calgary’s 2014 Freedom of Expression award for his willingness to criticize Corus Entertainment Network’s coverage of last year’s floods despite personal risk to his career. The Freedom of Expression award sponsored by Fast Forward Weekly is given annually to a person or group in the Calgary area who best demonstrates leadership in promoting free expression and will be presented to Rutherford at the Calgary Public Library’s annual Freedom to Read Celebration at Owl’s Nest Books on Thursday February 27. Rutherford who was the outspoken host of a conservative talk show on CHQR 770 AM criticized the network for broadcasting flood coverage out of Edmonton’s CHED station after Calgary’s CHQR studios were evacuated. Meanwhile the network continued to broadcast music at its other Calgary stations. Not long afterwards Rutherford was fired just one month prior to his previously announced retirement. In addition to the celebration and award the public library marks Freedom to Read Week which runs February 23 to March 1 by holding a teen contest and presenting a controversial or previously banned book to city council — this year’s choice was Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

Another event marking the week Guilty (Reading) Pleasures will be hosted by Wordfest and the Writers’ Guild of Alberta on Friday February 28 at Shelf Life Books where the winner of the national award from the Writers’ Union of Canada will also be revealed.

The freedom to read is not being taken for granted by local writers who will fight for the same freedom for others across the globe on Wednesday March 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Pages. Calgary poet Richard Harrison will host a reading as part of the Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project which is the ongoing effort to continue the struggle through literature against those who would destroy it. The name is taken from the March 5 2007 bombing of the street that is the historic centre of bookselling in Baghdad. “Much has happened since the bombing” says Harrison in a media release. “The street itself where 26 people died and over a hundred were wounded has been restored. The cafe is serving tea again. It is still a contentious place though and the current government in Baghdad recently bulldozed a half a block’s worth of stalls to keep the area ‘neat.’” The reading at Pages which hosted a similar event in 2008 is part of a worldwide reading at 25 venues and will feature selections from the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here anthology (PN Press) as well as a reading of the work of Iraqi-Canadian poet Zaid Shlah. Participating writers include Marcello Di Cintio Rosemary Griebel Paul Zits and derek beaulieu. As a fundraiser for Médecins Sans Frontières the last signed copies of printmaker Trisia Eddy’s broadside contribution to the project “A Home on Al-Mutanabbi Street” which features Harrison’s poem of the same name in both English and Arabic will be available for purchase.