The future of the planet, of democracy and identities, of languages and people, and of our imaginations: this is the theme of the 2023 edition of the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, gearing up to celebrate 25 years. It all kicks off online starting April 12, and culminates in a massive in-person program from April 27 to 30 in Montreal, at Hotel 10. What will the decades to come hold for our communities, our literature, our freedoms and aspirations? Festival goers will have a chance to look ahead with a wide range of author events and performances in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and other languages such as Welsh, Ojibway, ancient Greek, and Innu-Aimun, and featuring over 200 Quebec, Canadian, and international writers, thinkers, and artists converging on Montreal. Not to miss is a pre-Festival live event with Margaret Atwood on April 17 at St. James United Church.

Leading voices from here and abroad

Blue Metropolis

An impressive group of Canadian and international writers

This anniversary edition shines a bright light on Montreal’s thriving literary communities, and features local writers alongside nationally and internationally acclaimed authors.

On April 17 at St. James United Church, Margaret Atwood will be in conversation onstage talking about Old Babes in the Woods, her latest collection of short stories. The Festival’s April 27-30 program includes a packed line-up of storied writers; Duncan Mercredi, the 2023 laureate of the Blue Metropolis First Peoples Prize; 2023 Azul Prize laureate Lina Meruane; British author Philippe Sands; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Paul Harding; American-Canadian novelist Rivka Galchen; Israeli writer Yaël Neeman; French travel writer Sylvain Tesson; and 2022 Governor General-winning Anishinaabe author Eli Baxter, among many more. Michael Ondaatje, internationally acclaimed author of Warlight and The English Patient, will be recognized for his body of work with the 2023 Blue Metropolis International Grand Prize.

A conversation on Leonard Cohen will take place at the Congregation Shaar Hashomayim with writer and international law expert Philippe Sands, along with cantor Gideon Zelermyer; and a sci-fi retelling of the Haudenosaunee confederation story from Mohawk multimedia artist Skawennati, among other Indigenous events and many highlights. The Festival will also present an evening with Blue Metropolis founder Linda Leith, a big night for the Atwater Poetry Project, local favourites Dimitri Nasrallah, Christopher DiRaddo, and Daniel Allen Cox on how Montreal is evolving, and an intimate conversation with most recent Blue Metropolis/Conseil des arts de Montréal New Horizons Prize laureates Tawhida Tanya Evanson (2022) and the 2023 winner, whose name will be unveiled on April 29th during the Grand Prix award ceremony.

Philippe Sands

British author Philippe Sands

Major Event Series

The regularly sold-out Jerusalem of the Mind event returns featuring Israel author Maya Savir and Palestinian filmmaker Rami Younis, with Montrealers Carlos Fraenkel and Ehab Lotayef. This year’s panel sparks questions like: What is an activist’s role? A writer’s? How does the current political situation affect literature in Palestine and Israel? Expect another packed Almemar series.

Meanwhile, the Book Under Pressure series addresses current issues in the literary world and the book industry, while the popular Azul series features acclaimed authors Jorge Carríon, Cristina Morales and Carol Bensimon. Worth noting is the LGBTQ+ series, featuring a special Violet Hour reading event and numerous queer and trans authors, including Su J. Sokol, Festival spokesperson Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay, Laura Doyle Péan, Jen Currin, and 2023 Blue Metropolis Violet Prize laureate, playwright  Michel Marc Bouchard. The Festival’s series on sci-fi and fantasy draws readers into lesser-known, strange, and stimulating worlds– queer speculative fiction, hope punk, Afrofantasy and graphic video books. The NEXT series is the most ambitious emerging artist programming yet. It focuses on English-language talent from underrepresented communities, offering workshops, carte blanche events, and podcasts featuring community leaders.

For more details about programming, please visit:

The Gabriel Safdie Event: Jerusalem of the Mind returns to Blue Metropolis

Gabriel Safdie, the event’s sponsor, was born in Jerusalem when it was still part of Palestine and is dedicated to bringing together Palestinians, Israelis, and others to engage in this conversation on literature and activism in the Middle East. Safdie says, “Jerusalem inhabits our collective memory; it holds a unique place in one’s mind. Because of the increasing conflict that plagues the city, it deserves now more than ever a critical dialogue and exchange of ideas, none more meaningful than from writers taking part in a literary forum.”

This edition, the panel will focus on the current situation in Middle East politics, addressing questions such as: With an increasingly right-wing government now in place, what does the future of Israel-Palestine look like? Where do Palestinians and Israelis go from here? What is the role of activism? What is the writer’s role? How does the current political situation affect literature in both Palestine and Israel?”

Speaking on these issues will be panellists Maya Savir, Israeli author (On Reconciliation) and activist; Rami Younis, Palestinian filmmaker (Lyd), journalist and activist; Ehab Lotayef, Egyptian Canadian poet (To Love a Palestinian Woman) and activist; and Carlos Fraenkel, McGill University professor of Philosophy and author (Teaching Plato in Palestine). The discussion will be moderated by Kareem Shaheen, editor at New Lines magazine and former Middle East correspondent for The Guardian. Programmer: Shelley Pomerance.

Previous editions of the Jerusalem of the Mind panel have featured writers, journalists, and activists such as Ayelet Gundar Goshen, Ayelet Waldman, Ala Hlelel, Sayed Kashua, Orly Castel-Bloom, Ruby Namdar, and Stephen Orlov, with moderators Joseph Rosen and Claire Holden Rothman.

The panel discussion will take place in the Salle Godin at the Hotel 10 on Sunday, April 30 from 2:30 to 4 pm. Hotel 10 is at 10 Sherbrooke West. Admission is $10 at

Related Posts