The QWF is pleased to announce that Jan Jorgensen, the organizer of The Lawn Chair Soirée reading series, is the winner of the 2020 QWF Judy Mappin Community Award.
A graduate of Creative Writing from Bard College in New York, Jan Jorgensen began her work in Montreal communities as an ordained minister serving Westmount Park United Church. Her ministrations took on a literary flavour in 2006, when she launched The Lawn Chair Soirée for new and established writers to read their work. Its name comes from its first location – above Papeterie Nota Bene on avenue du Parc – and the need for attendees to bring their own chairs. It has moved to three other locations in the 13 years since it was inaugurated, but the name has stuck. Its air of inclusive whimsy fits it perfectly.
In its early years especially, the Lawn Chair Soirée even produced chapbooks to help promote authors as well as fundraise for the events. Sitting Duck Press chapbooks published and promoted the writing of Colette Vidal, Sandra Sjollema, Sandra Stephenson, Carmelita McGrath, Jeffrey Mackie, and many more. The press’s most recent chapbook was My Island, My City, launched in April 2019; it included the writings of 41 local authors. The launch event raised $1,200 for the Writers in the Community program of the Quebec Writers’ Federation.
Most of the events Jan Jorgensen has organized in her long career, including The Lawn Chair Soirées, have had a fundraising element to support worthy causes – local artists, refugees, youth, etc. These events range from a Spoken Word Marathon to benefit earthquake victims in Indonesia, to the bookfair Read Globally, Buy Locally, which showcased 32 members of the writing community and raised money for the Writers in the Community program.
More recently, Jan organized Re-Creating Home (2018), a fundraising event and chapbook launch to support a Syrian family being sponsored by the Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal. Earlier this year, Jan held a special Lawn Chair Soirée with invited guests from the Montreal Muslim community to help support Muslim Awareness Week.
For her hard work, leadership, and longstanding personal commitment to community in all its forms, as well as championing the work of English-language authors of Quebec, the Quebec Writers’ Federation is delighted to name Jan Jorgensen the recipient of the 2020 Judy Mappin Community Award.
Jorgensen will accept her honorary award at the 2020 QWF Literary Awards Gala, which will take place virtually on November 4.
For more information about this year’s awards and finalists, visit www.qwf.org/awards.