Charlotte Gray

Denman’s writers festival celebrates 15 years

The Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival celebrates its 15th anniversary July 13-16 and as usual there is an eclectic and dazzling line-up of literary performers.

With Denman a mere 10 minute ferry ride away from Buckley Bay, this is a chance for Comox Valley readers to meet published authors and get inspiration for their own writing hopes.

From legendary veteran author Ronald Wright (The Gold Eaters) to new and emerging scribe Carleigh Baker (Bad Endings), this year’s invited guests bring a virtuoso array of writing talents.

Emily St. John Mandel grew up on Denman, and has published four novels in recent years, including the best seller, Station Eleven, described by noted Canadian novelist Patrick DeWitt as a “genuinely unsettling dystopian novel that also allows for moments of great tenderness.”

Fantasy is one of literature’s most popular genres and Hiromi Goto’s series of novels, including her most recent one, Darkest Light are sure to appeal.

It is Confederation’s 150th birthday this year, and the Festival has one of Canada’s most illustrious historians, Charlotte Gray from Ottawa.

Her most recent book, The Promise of Canada shines the spotlight on people who have made a significant impact on the political, cultural and social life of Canada during the last 150 years.

Missie Peters is an accomplished improv/spoken word performer from Victoria. She has a reputation for lively perspectives on contemporary mores and will present a workshop entitled “Spoken Word—from Page to Stage”.

Humour and edgy social commentary have always found a home at the Denman Festival, and Andrew Struthers from Victoria is sure to provide both.

Andrew’s most recent work is The Sacred Herb/The Devil’s Weed. He will also present a workshop on the Saturday morning on the topic “Writing for Laughs.” Hasan Namir grew up gay in Iraq and his book, God in Pink is the result of that very difficult experience.

Local author and gardening expert Des Kennedy’s “In Conversation” Main Stage session this year will be with be Andrew Nikiforuk, a crusading investigative journalist whose most recent book, Slick Water details the damaging effects of “fracking” and the courageous attempts of an Albertan woman farmer to challenge the fracking industry and the provincial government.

Ronald Wright’s first book appeared in 1968. His “A Short History of Progress” in 2004, based on the Massey Lectures was both a critical and popular success.

He’s written 12 books, both non-fiction and novels, and his latest, The Gold Eaters is a harrowing and moving chronicle of the devastating impact of the Spanish invaders (Pizzaro, etc) on the Inca people of Peru in the 18th century.

Kim June Johnson, who lives on Hornby Island and performs around the province will present a workshop on song-writing. For creative types interested in composing, this is a great chance to learn and test out song-writing ideas.

The Denman Festival has always brought new and emerging talent to Festival-goers. Carleigh Baker is of Cree-Metis/Icelandic origin and lives in Vancouver. Her first book, Bad Endings contains highly contemporary short stories.

There is something for everyone at this year’s Denman Festival: tasty food in the back hall, the sale of books by invited authors in the activity centre, the mobile coffee and treats wagon, the chance to visit Denman’s museum, readings by local writers, and door prizes at all main stage events.

Details about registration can be found on the website: denmanislandwritersfestival.com.