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The Frye Festival takes place each spring in Moncton, New Brunswick, and has the honour of being Canada’s only bilingual international literary festival.  It is also the largest literary event in Atlantic Canada, bringing together the best Anglophone and Francophone authors from around the world.   This year’s festival promises to be special as it coincides with what would have been the 100th birthday of the event’s namesake - literary critic and theorist Northrop Frye.

Frye’s contribution to Canadian literature included asking tough questions like “What good is the study of literature?” or “What difference does the study of literature make in our social or political or religious attitude?”  It was Frye’s first book, Fearful Symmetry, which brought him to international attention.  In it Frye found a system of metaphor in the writings of William Blake which helped transform them from, what some considered, delusional ramblings to the more modern view of his work.

Frye had a massive influence on the likes of Harold Bloom and Margaret Atwood. He won the Governor General's Literary Award, was granted admission to the Royal Society of Canada and was named Companion of the Order of Canada.  On July 14th 2012, in a final tribute to his contributions, the Frye Festival will commemorate Northrop Frye’s 100th birthday with a life-size bronze sculpture of the critic sitting on a park bench with an open book in his lap. The statue will be located outside the Moncton Public Library.

Going to the Frye Festival:

If you have never been, the Frye Festival promises to feed your imagination with a variety of events. Festival chair Dawn Arnold explains that you never know where you will find inspiration. “Maybe it will be a late night jam session where a poet reads his latest poem, while accompanied by the Festival’s house band; maybe it will be a dialogue between two writers about how they write truthfully about family; maybe it will be running into your favourite author on the street and asking him out for a beer; maybe it will be a screenwriting workshop where you get the inspiration to finish the manuscript under your bed; or maybe it will be at a book club, surrounded by fellow book lovers.”

Being a bilingual festival, there are some events which are strictly Anglophone or Francophone but, whenever possible, events are composed in both English and French with authors reading/speaking in the language which they write with simultaneous translations.  This year’s events include:

  • A 24-hour playwriting competition where you could win $500 and have your work judged by Governor General award-winning playwrights Catherine Banks and Herménégilde Chiasson, along with local celebrity and playwright Marshall Button. 

  • Soirée Frye: A gala evening with readings, music, and public reception to meet the authors.

  • A presentation Culture and the Critic discussing how the age of digital media affects the role of today’s literary critics.

  • The School/Youth program where up to 10,000 students will be able to discover the magic of the written word and meet an author at schools all over New Brunswick.  Additionally more than 250 students will be able to present their own creations at these events.

  • Plus all of the readings, book clubs, and events you come to expect from a top flight literary festival.

The Frye Festival runs from April 23-29th in Moncton, New Brunswick.  Ticket prices vary and range from “pay what you can” to $25. Learn more at


Books from 2012 Frye Festival Authors

The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott
The Little Shadows
by Marina Endicott
Madame Perfecta by Antonine Maillet
Madame Perfecta
by Antonine Maillet
The Town that Drowned by Riel Nason
The Town that Drowned
by Riel Nason
Empire of Ruins by Arthur Slade
Empire of Ruins
by Arthur Slade
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
The Winter Palace
by Eva Stachniak
Arctic Storm by Frieda Wishinsky
Arctic Storm
by Frieda Wishinsky

The High Road by Terry Fallis
The High Road
by Terry Fallis


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