More than 150 people attended FEIS 2016 at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre last Thursday.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Book lovers gathered in Port Hawkesbury last week for the Port Hawkesbury Literacy Council’s annual fundraising event.
Still going strong in its 15th year, “FEIS 2016: Midwives and Moonshine” saw more than 150 people converge on the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre’s Bear Head Conference Room for readings from celebrated Nova Scotia author Ami McKay.
FEIS, a Gaelic term for a traditional arts and culture festival, offers an opportunity to hear authors read from their books, as well as discuss the writing process and support local literacy initiatives.
“All funds that are raised this evening through FEIS go directly to benefit the adult learners in our programs, ” said Port Hawkesbury Literacy Council coordinator Crystal Samson, who noted planning begins shortly after the Christmas holidays by working to secure authors.
Samson said the individuals who use their programs are often lacking employability skills and a Grade 12 education, and the programs are designed to address those barriers as well as work on self-esteem and character building.
Samson expressed her gratitude for supporters of the event, which draws many “repeat offenders” who begin calling for tickets in September.
“If I can capture them once they generally look forward to returning for the next year.”
McKay, a native of Indiana who now lives in Scots Bay, Nova Scotia, discussed The Birth House, her acclaimed debut novel and read from her latest, The Witches of New York.
The self-described “armchair genealogist” says she shakes the branches of her family tree for inspiration and advised any would-be novelists in the room to write every day.
McKay said she believes all writing has value, even if it is merely to show the writer you are not going in the right direction.
“No writing is wasted,” she said.
Author and former CBRM Mayor David Muise was scheduled for the event as well but health issues prevented him from attending. He is the author of Awake at A Wake and Awake Yet?
The Port Hawkesbury Literacy Council currently has two 13-week Employability and Academic upgrading programs underway for individuals who have or have not completed Grade 12.

Author Ami McKay (centre) is pictured with Port Hawkesbury Literacy Council instructor Taralee Wood (left) and coordinator/instructor Crystal Samson following FEIS 2016 at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.
Author Ami McKay (centre) is pictured with Port Hawkesbury Literacy Council instructor Taralee Wood (left) and coordinator/instructor Crystal Samson following FEIS 2016 at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.
FEIS attendees lined up for their chance to speak with and have their books signed by best-selling author Ami McKay
FEIS attendees lined up for their chance to speak with and have their books signed by best-selling author Ami McKay