Television Spotlight on English-Speaking Writers in Quebec |
After the success of its first season, Unrelated writers will be back for a few seconds starting Tuesday, May 31 on MAtv, the community channel operated by cable company Vidéotron.
Hosted by Shelley Pomerance, the six 30-minute themed episodes — produced by the Association of English-Language Publishers of Quebec (AELAQ) in collaboration with MAtv — shine a light on Quebec’s Anglophone literary industry. The show features interviews with local authors and concludes with reading recommendations from local booksellers, Librairie Drawn & Quarterly.
Pomerance is a well-known arts journalist, having spent more than 20 years as a CBC radio contributor and host of shows like Spotlight on Saturday and All in one weekend. More recently, she was associate director of programming for the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival.
According to Rebecca West, Executive Director of AELAQ, the response to the first season of Unrelated writers was positive from everyone involved, including MAtv.
“There really aren’t a ton of TV opportunities for English-language writers in Quebec, either here or nationally,” West said. “When we heard from MAtv that this was one of their most popular shows last year, we jumped at the chance to do it again.”
Like last year, each episode will pair two writers, creating a weekly theme. The start of the season on May 31, on the theme Montreal Activists, features Ariela Freedman and Merrily Weisbord.
“Both wrote books essentially about left wingers in the 1940s and 1950s in Montreal,” Pomerance explained. “Ariela Freedman’s book, titled Leah, talks about Léa Roback, activist and pacifist feminist. And in Merrily Weisbord’s book, which is called The strangest dream, Roback also appears. They are both roughly from the same period, but Ariela’s book is a novel while Merrily’s book is non-fiction.
The June 7 episode, titled Loss and Recovery, features fledgling writers Tarah Schwartz, formerly of CTV News Montreal, and David Bradford.
“Tarah’s Memoirs, I Can’t Stop Falling: A Long Road to Motherhoodtalks about what she went through trying to have a child,” Pomerance said, adding that Bradford’s Dream of no one but me is a book of poetry, filled with visual images. “A lot of it is about his complex and difficult childhood. So the two talk about loss, recovery and trauma. It seemed like a very odd couple at first because you have a memory of someone trying to have a child, then you have someone who writes poetry about a difficult childhood, but they really have a lot in common.
The remaining episodes will feature writers Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt and Dimitri Nasrallah on June 14; Anita Anand and Mariam Pal on June 21; Baharan Baniahmadi and Tara McGowan-Ross on June 28; and Jason Camlot with Gillian Sze on July 5.
Aside from a modified scenography, the format is the same, with only minor changes and the addition of a renowned partner, the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF). “The QWF has such a large community of writers and people who love writing in English in Quebec, so they were a natural fit for this project,” West said.
And should the opportunity arise, the team would love to return for a third season because there is no shortage of stories to tell.
“We could do more than six shows on a continuous schedule because there’s so much going on in English literature in Quebec,” Pomerance said, adding, “It’s an exciting opportunity.”
A new episode starts every Tuesday evening at 8:30 p.m. Videotron customers can tune in to MAtv on channel 9 or 609 in HD and on demand. Each episode will be available to the general public for free streaming on matv.ca seven days after its broadcast, for a period of two weeks. For the complete schedule, visit matv.ca