AX Literary Reading Series Archives

Our archives are listed in reverse-chronological order, from most recent.


November 29, Peter Powning: A Retrospective Take-out Book Sale and Signing

AX is pleased to host a “Take-Out” book sale and signing by Sussex-area artist Peter Powning. The event celebrates the release of the book Peter Powning: A Retrospective,  edited by John Leroux and published by Goose Lane Editions.

The Book Sale and Signing will take place at the AX Arts Centre on Sunday, November 29 from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Due to COVID-19, the book sale and signing will have a “take-out” format. Books will be sold and signed through take-out doors at AX, allowing guests to line up outside and observe physical distancing. Guests are encouraged to dress warmly, and masks are required, as per government guidelines. Residents of Zone 2 can attend this event.

We look forward to seeing you as AX continues to host safe and engaging local programming during this time.

August 12, Choice Cuts Open Mic Readings at the Rotary Amphitheater

On August 12, for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, AX hosted Choice Cuts in an outdoor setting at the Sussex Rotary Amphitheatre. The event was a huge success with many readers sharing their poetry, short stories, and even excerpts from memoirs. Readers pre-registered to sit in designated bubbles, mics were sanitized between readings, and fun was had by all!


December 20, 2019 The Darkest Evening of the Year

Carolling begins at 6:30 p.m.

Join us at AX in Sussex for a special evening of music, readings, and friendship to celebrate the winter solstice and the shift towards the light as the year draws to a close. We’ll begin with some traditional carols, followed by seasonal readings and musical selections from AX volunteers and supporters of our community arts and culture centre. All are welcome. There is no charge to attend this event, but freewill offerings at the door are welcome.

December 7, 2019 Lee Whitney

We were pleased to present a reading from Lee Whitney‘s new book on Saturday, December 7, 2:00 p.m.

Lee is well known in the Sussex area for the column he published in the Kings County Record for more than 30 years, titled “A Letter From Home,” appearing under the pen name, “Jacob Erdman.”

A selection of these columns has now been published in a book titled Knowing By Heart: A Tribute to a Kennebecasis Valley Homestead Farm, illustrated by Alice Whitney and Lee and Alice’s grandson, Stefan Westner.

Lee Whitney writes about the patterns of the passing seasons on the farm, about the rigours of winter and the flowering of new life each spring. He has been a constant observer of the movement of stars, constellations, and planets in the night sky and has kept a detailed weather journal for many decades. His wide-ranging interests are all reflected in his new book.

Knowing By Heart, published by Chapel Street Editions, has been a family project, and members of the Whitney family joined the author for a presentation on the book and in reading selections from it.

This is a FREE event, and all are welcome.

Image: Alice and Lee Whitney

November 21, 2019 Sheree Fitch

The AX Reading Series is pleased to announce that we will host a reading by multi award-winning author Sheree Fitch on Thursday, November 21, 7:00 p.m.

Fitch, who has more than twenty five books to her credit, will read from her new novel You Won’t Always Be This Sad — A Book of Moments, and will be joined by author Beth Powning as they discuss the book’s creation.

Capturing her own struggles as she emerges from shock in the wake of her son’s unexpected death at age thirty-seven, author and storyteller Sheree Fitch writes lyrically and unabashedly, with deep sorrow, unexpected rage, and boundless love.

This is a FREE event, and all are welcome.

September 20, 2019 Shandi Mitchell

Shandi Mitchell Reading

The AX Reading and Workshop Series is proud to present award-winning author Shandi Mitchell on September 20 and 21, 2019.

Shandi will read from her novel The Waiting Hours on Friday, September 20, at 7:00 p.m., and her reading will be followed by a question and answer period. 

Shandi’s reading is in memory of Susan Kathleen Leyden, long-time supporter of the Lorenzo Society, and is sponsored by Douglas Leyden in partnership with the Lorenzo Society.

See more information about Shandi’s writing workshop, Creating Characters Inside Out.

About Shandi Mitchell
Shandi Mitchell is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and director. Her novel, The Waiting Hours (2019) was recently launched with Penguin Canada and was tagged by CBC Books as one of 28 Books to Watch for in 2019. Her debut novel Under This Unbroken Sky (2009) was simultaneously published by Penguin Canada, Harper Collins US, and Weidenfeld & Nicholson UK, with translations in Chinese, Hebrew, Dutch, and Italian. The book earned several prizes including the Kobzar Literary Prize, Thomas Head Raddall Fiction Prize, and the Regional Commonwealth Fiction Prize, and was long-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Mitchell has served as a WFNS mentor and adjunct professor of Advanced Creative Writing-Fiction at Dalhousie University. She has also been a story consultant for the NFB, AFCOOP, and Equinox Europe’s International Screenwriters workshop. Born in New Brunswick and raised in Alberta, Shandi now lives in Nova Scotia.

May 10, 2019 Readings & Writing Workshop ~ Jennifer McGrath & Kelly Cooper

Writing for Children

Readings May 10, 7:00pm

Workshop May 11, 9:30am-12:00pm



May 10, 7:00 pm


Join us at AX as we host Jennifer McGrath and Kelly Cooper as part of our AX Reading and Workshop Series. Cooper and McGrath, both award-winning authors, will read on Friday, May 10, at 7pm and their readings will be followed by a question and answer period about the fascinating world of writing and publishing picture books for children.

This reading is FREE, thanks in part to a grant from the New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.


May 11, 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

How to Write Books that Kids (and Publishers) Want to Read with Jennifer McGrath

Cost $75

National award-winning children’s author Jennifer McGrath will offer a writing workshop designed to help you hone your craft, reconnect with wonder, gain industry insights, and learn how to navigate the submission and publishing process.

In this workshop, Jennifer will touch on the following:

Information & Insights
• What makes a good picture book
• Common mistakes beginners make
• Genres & markets
• What publishers want
• The Dos & Don’ts of pitching an editor

Practice & Practicum
Strategies for:
• Reconnecting with wonder
• Finding your rhythm
• Choosing your words
• Leaving your (adult) ego at the door
• Writing with resonance and relevance
• Letting go

This workshop about the not-so-simple but oh-so-rewarding process of picture book writing is intended for beginner and experienced writers alike.

Cost is $75, and space is limited.

Please register by calling (506) 433-8351 or come in to AX at 12 Maple Ave., Sussex, NB

About Jennifer McGrath

Jennifer McGrath is the author of Gadzooks, the Christmas Goose and The Snow Knows, 2017 recipient of the prestigious Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award for best Canadian picture book for children. McGrath’s books have been included in a number of reading programs, literacy initiatives, and book clubs across the country. With an MA in English literature, she has taught English at both the Université de Moncton and Mount Allison University, and she is also a professional communications writer.

About Kelly Cooper

Kelly Cooper is a writer and teacher who grew up on a Saskatchewan farm with many horses. She has now lived for many years on a New Brunswick farm with her husband, two children and many cows. Her short fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction have been published in a number of literary journals and anthologies. In 2004, Goose Lane Editions published Eyehill, Cooper’s collection of linked short stories, and, in 2014, she won the Open Season Award in creative nonfiction for her memoir piece, “Ten Easy Steps”. Her first book for children, If A Horse Had Words, has been shortlisted for a 2019 New Brunswick Book Award.

April 12 & 13, 2019 Reading and Workshop Series ~ UNB Writer in Residence Phil Hall

Reading: Friday, April 12, 7:00 p.m.

Workshop: Saturday, April 13, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Literary Reading and Q&A Session, and poetry workshop with UNB Writer in Residence Phil Hall

AX is proud to announce a reading and workshop by UNB Writer in Residence poet Phil Hall, as part of our ongoing AX Reading and Workshop Series

The reading takes place on Friday, April 12, at 7:00 p.m. and will be followed by a question and answer period. The workshop takes place the next morning, Saturday, April 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the AX Gallery. The reading is free, and the workshop is $30 – there is limited registration, and pre-registration required.

About the workshop
Revision As Invitation and Welcome: A Poetry Workshop and Talk
Cost: $30
Pre-registration: 12 Maple Ave., or call (506) 433-8351. 

For this poetry workshop, Phil Hall offers participants the opportunity to get feedback on two poems – one you send to him in advance, and one you bring with you to be discussed during the workshop. You aren’t required to share your work in order to take the workshop, but it’s a great chance to get constructive feedback on your writing from an award-winning poet and educator. 

There is limited registration for this poetry workshop, so don’t delay. 

Registered participants should send two poems to by no later than April 6. Choose one of those poems and bring 12 copies to the workshop. Participants will workshop that poem together, and Phil will give each participant written notes on the other poem that they send him. 

Note: Phil’s reading and workshop are partially funded through the UNB Writer-in-Residence program as well as the Department of Tourism, Heritage, and Culture, which allows us to offer the reading for free and the workshop at a discount.

About Phil Hall

Phil has won Canada’s Governor General’s Award and Ontario’s Trillium Award, and has been twice nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize. Phil has taught at York University, Ryerson University, George Brown College, and Seneca College. He is Director of The Page Lectures series at Queen’s University, and has been in residency at The Banff Cenre, The Pierre Berton House in the Yukon, Sage Hill Writing Experience in Saskatchewan, and the University of Ottawa. 

The AX Reading and Workshop Series is in part supported by the New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture. Series participants include Sean Michaels, David Adams Richards, Phil Hall, Jennifer McGrath, and Kelly Cooper.

AX is located at 12 Maple Avenue, Sussex, NB. (506) 433-8351

March 29, 2019 Reading and Workshop Series ~ David Adams Richards

Sen. David Adams Richards reading in the gallery, with paintings by Deanna Musgrave in the background

AX Reading and Workshop Series

Fri. Mar.29, 7:00 p.m.

Literary Reading and Q&A Session with David Adams Richards

AX is proud to announce a reading by David Adams Richards, followed by a question and answer period, as part of our ongoing AX Reading and Workshop Series.

Richards has received numerous awards and prizes throughout his career. Most notably, he is one of few writers in the history of the Governor General’s Literary Awards to win in both the fiction (Nights Below Station Street) and non-fiction (Lines on the Water) categories. In addition to these two wins, he was nominated for Road to the Stilt HouseFor Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down and Mercy Among the Children. Considered by many to be Richards’ most accomplished novel, Mercy was co-winner of the Giller Award in 2000 and was shortlisted for the Trillium Award and the Thomas Raddell Award. It also won the Canadian Booksellers Association author of the year and fiction book of the year awards.

The AX Reading and Workshop Series is in part supported by the New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture. UNB Writer-in-Residence Phil Hall appears as part of our series in April, and children’s book authors Jennifer McGrath and Kelly Cooper appear in May, rounding out the first half of the series.

David Adams Richards’ reading will begin at 7:00 pm and will be followed by a question and answer period. Admission is free, seating is first come-first served. Chapters will offer a wide selection of Richards’ book, and he will be available for book signing.

AX is located at 12 Maple Avenue, Sussex, NB.

(506) 433-8351

March 1, 2019 Story-Telling Night at AX ~ Gerard Collins


FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 6:00 P.M.

When the sun goes down and the sky darkens, storytellers will gather at AX on the first night of March to entertain us with tales of long ago and far away, or yesterday on the farm just down the road. As in days of old before technology ruled the world, we’ll gather around a “campfire” on a late-winter night to bring some warmth to your soul. You, your friends, and your family are welcome to join us – and maybe tell a tale: of your town, your family, school days, or whatever else you please.

You don’t need to be a writer. Just tell us a story. Make us laugh. Scare us a little. Make us smile. But keep in mind there might be kids.

“Storytelling Night” is part of Gerard Collins’ exhibition, The Book That Wrote Itself. An award-winning author and professor of literature, Gerard pays homage to his Atlantic roots, sitting around a woodstove or campfire, when his elders would tell stories of days gone by.

If you know someone who likes to tell a story, or someone who enjoys a good yarn, please tell them about this unique event. Everyone is welcome, and this event is free, thanks in part to funding from the NB Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

January 17, 2019 Reading and Workshop Series ~ Sean Michaels

Launch of the new AX Reading and Workshop Series

Join us at AX on Thursday, January 17 at 7:00 p.m. as we welcome award-winning Canadian author Sean Michaels for the first event in our new reading and workshop series. 

Sean will read from his Giller Prize winning novel, Us Conductors, a story inspired by the lives of inventor Léon Theremin and musician Clara Rockmore. 

Joining Sean is Sonya Malaborza, who will moderate a discussion after the reading. Sean will also demonstrate the other-worldly sounds of the theremin — a unique musical instrument controlled without physical contact. 

This event is FREE, thanks in part to a grant from the New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

About Sean Michaels:
Sean was born in Stirling, Scotland in 1982 grew up in Ottawa, Canada. Apart from stays in Edinburgh and Kraków, he has lived in Montreal since 2000. Sean founded Said the Gramophone, one of the earliest music blogs, in 2003. His writing has also appeared in The Guardian, The Believer, the Walrus, Pitchfork and at McSweeney’s.


September 28, 2018 An Evening with Foglit ~ Literary Readings

An Evening with Fog Lit ~ Literary Readings September 28, 7:00 p.m.

Join us at AX as authors from theFog Lit Festival venture to Sussex from Saint John for an evening of readings, refreshments, and art. The Fog Lit Festival is a non-profit festival for readers and writers of all ages and abilities.Fog Lit authors Lisa de Nikolits, Pamela Mulloy, Larry Matthews, and Terri Favro will be at AX to read from their books, sell copies of their novels after the event, and participate in a question and answer period.This is a FREE event, sponsored byFog Lit.

August 9, 2018 The Art of Editing ~ Beth Powning & Craig Pyette

Join us at AX as we welcome Craig Pyette to discuss his work as an editor at one of Canada’s biggest publishers. Craig will be joined by local author Beth Powning to give us unique insights into the editing process from both sides. The two will talk about the editorial exchange and the working relationship between author and editor. 

Question and answer period to follow. This event is free of charge and open to all!

About Craig Pyette

Craig Pyette is a senior editor at Knopf Canada. His books have won or been finalists for numerous literary awards in Canada and internationally, including six Governor General’s Literary Award nominations. Craig has ghostwritten memoirs, climbed a mountain with a retired NHL enforcer and driven a wrestler around Western Canada at the end of his life, all to help great stories turn into great books, six of them number-one bestsellers. Craig lives and works in Toronto.

About Beth Powning

Beth Powning lives in New Brunswick, Canada. Her latest bestselling novel, A Measure of Light, was called by the Globe and Mail “shatteringly exquisite…extraordinary…visceral and intense.”

Beth is the author of three novels and three books of literary non-fiction, as well as articles, essays and blog posts. A full-time writer, she teaches workshops, visits schools, sings in two choruses, serves on boards and committees, gardens, photographs, and has chickens and ponies.

Beth is currently working on a new novel.

April 12, 2018 Reading ~ Breach House Gang

Join us at AX for readings from The Breach House Gang of Writers from the Moncton
and Shediac area. The Gang of 12 authors has recently published their 4th anthology and are on a tour to promote their book. 

Come out for a fun evening of readings and conversation.

March 9, 2018 Reading ~ UNB Writer in Residence Colleen Murphy

Join us at AX on March 9 for an evening reading with UNB’s Writer in Residence, acclaimed playwright, filmmaker and librettist, Colleen Murphy. The reading will be followed by a question and answer period. Colleen will also offer a writing workshop at AX the following morning, Saturday, March 10.

Colleen is a two-time Governor General’s Literary Award Winner for Drama. In 2016 she won for her play Pig Girl, and in 2007 she won for The December Man (L’homme de décembre). Twice she has won the Carol Bolt Award for Best Play. In 2017, Colleen had four world premieres in Canada including The Breathing Hole at the Stratford Festival, Oksana G. at Tapestry Opera in Toronto (composer, Aaron Gervais), and The Society For The Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius at Rumble Theatre in Vancouver. 

Other plays include I Hope My Heart Burns First, Armstrong’s War, The Goodnight Bird, Beating Heart Cadaver and The Piper.  Other libretti include My Mouth On Your Heart (composer, August Murphy-King). She is also a filmmaker and her distinct, award-winning films have played in festivals around the world.

Colleen has been Playwright-in-Residence at Finborough Theatre in London, U.K., Necessary Angel Theatre and Factory Theatre in Toronto. She has been Writer in Residence at the University of Regina, the Mabel Pugh Taylor Writer in Residence at McMaster University, the University of Guelph, the Edna Staebler Laurier Writer in Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University, the Lee Playwright in Residence at the University of Alberta, and is currently Writer in Residence at the University of New Brunswick.

March 10, 2018 Writing Workshop with UNB Writer in Residence Colleen Murphy

Writing with Emotional Punch

March 10, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Join us at AX for a writing workshop with UNB’s Writer in Residence, acclaimed playwright, filmmaker and librettist, Colleen Murphy. 

A workshop and discussion on how to create complex characters and how to use them to tell stories that offer the reader an emotional experience. Suitable for all genres and levels.

Cost: $35This workshop is partially sponsored by UNB, Canada Council for the Arts, and AX‘s programming.

Register at AX,12 Maple Avenue, Sussex, NB or call (506) 433-8351.

Note: Colleen will do a reading and question and answer session at AX the night before, March 9, 7:30 p.m.

About Colleen Murphy

Colleen is a two-time Governor General’s Literary Award Winner for Drama. In 2016 she won for her play Pig Girl, and in 2007 she won for The December Man (L’homme de décembre). Twice she has won the Carol Bolt Award for Best Play. In 2017, Colleen had four world premieres in Canada including The Breathing Hole at the Stratford Festival, Oksana G. at Tapestry Opera in Toronto (composer, Aaron Gervais), and The Society For The Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius at Rumble Theatre in Vancouver. 

Other plays include I Hope My Heart Burns FirstArmstrong’s WarThe Goodnight BirdBeating Heart Cadaver and The Piper.  Other libretti include My Mouth On Your Heart(composer, August Murphy-King). She is also a filmmaker and her distinct, award-winning films have played in festivals around the world.

Colleen has been Playwright-in-Residence at Finborough Theatre in London, U.K., Necessary Angel Theatre and Factory Theatre in Toronto. She has been Writer in Residence at the University of Regina, the Mabel Pugh Taylor Writer in Residence at McMaster University, the University of Guelph, the Edna Staebler Laurier Writer in Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University, the Lee Playwright in Residence at the University of Alberta, and is currently Writer in Residence at the University of New Brunswick.


April 24, 2017 Frye Reading with AX ~ Charlotte Gray

On Monday, April 24, 7:00 p.m., the Sussex Regional Library and AX will host best-selling author Charlotte Gray. Gray will read from her works and give an on-stage interview with Stephanie Coburn, discerning reader and past president of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, and will then take questions from the audience.

Charlotte Gray is the author of ten non-fiction bestsellers, including her newest book, “The Promise of Canada: 150 Years – People and Ideas that have Shaped Our Country”. Gray has won many awards, such as the Pierre Berton Award and the Toronto Book Award. Three of her books have been adapted for the screen, including her award-winning “Gold Diggers,” which was made into a mini-series by US Discovery Television. Gray is a member of the Order of Canada and an adjunct research professor at Carleton University. She lives in Ottawa.

Thanks to our sponsor, the Sussex Regional Library, admission is free. This is a terrific opportunity to chat with one of Canada’s best-known authors, so come early and bring a friend!

The Frye Festival feeds imaginations and celebrates reading and writing by connecting authors with our bilingual community. The 18th annual Frye Festival takes place April 22 to 29 in Greater Moncton, NB.

March 24, 2017 Reading and Workshop with UNB Writer in Residence Rabindranath Maharaj

Friday night reading 7pm at Library (Side door entrance)
Saturday morning workshop 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 pm at library, main entrance!

AX and the Sussex Regional Library are co-hosting a reading and workshop by award-winning author and UNB Writer-in-Residence Rabindranath “Robin” Maharaj. Robin’s visit is being sponsored by ArtsNB and the UNB’s Writer-in-Residence program outreach, allowing events to be FREE to participants.

The reading will take place on Friday, March 24, 7:00 p.m. and the workshop is on Saturday, March 25, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Both events are at the Sussex Regional Library.

Robin is the author of “The Amazing Absorbing Boy,” a Trillium Book Award winner and a CBC Canada Reads Ontario Top 10, and “A Perfect Pledge,” Rogers Writers’ Trust Prize winner and Commonwealth Writers’ Prize finalist.

Robin’s free writing workshop is open to all writing genres and will focus on finding sources of inspiration, the importance of “voice,” the elements of plotting, avenues for publication, and guidelines around memoir writing. Beginner and established writers welcome!

Workshop space is limited, so please pre-register by visiting the library, calling 432-4585, or emailing

November 3, 2017 Alice Whitney Reading and Q&A, followed by the Writers' Federation of NB Gala

Alice Whitney, a longtime supporter of the arts in Sussex, is coming to AX on Friday, November 3, 4:00 pm to read from her new book, Henrietta’s Nightlight.

Henrietta is staying overnight at her grandparents’ cottage for the first time. She would love to see the great blue heron that visits in the morning, but there’s no electricity or running water at the cottage, and the night noises are scary. After a grownup day exploring nature with her grandparents, will she be able to make it through the night?

Please join us in the AX gallery for a reading by Alice, followed by a question and answer period. This event is free.

Immediately following Alice’s book launch, the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick will be hosting their Awards evening at AX, so we hope you’ll join us for a literary-packed day for all ages!

WordsFall 2017 will be held in Sussex on November 3 and 4, with the public kickoff happening at AX on Friday evening, free of charge.

At 6:00pm, the WFNB is serving hors d’oeuvres, and if you’d like dinner, arrive early as Friday evenings at Knocks Cafe are busy. 

At 6:30pm, we’ll hear from the winners of “Unpacking the Personal,” the WFNB-sponsored Sussex High School writing contest, as well as the winners of the 2016 WFNB Mentorship Awards. This year’s winners are Andrea Kikuchi (fiction), and AX‘s own Board Secretary and workshop instructor, Melanie Craig-Hansford (poetry).

These award readings will be followed by book launches by WFNB members who have published books within the last year.

The WFNB is also offering literary workshops at the Lion’s Den on Saturday, Nov 4 – check out their full WordsFall itinerary.