All-star cast at Denman Island writers festival

John Vaillant, the internationally acclaimed author of The Golden Spruce and The Tiger, heads an all-star cast of authors at the Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival this month.

John Vaillant, the internationally acclaimed author of The Golden Spruce and The Tiger, heads an all-star cast of authors at the Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival this month.

Both of Vaillant’s recent books have won prestigious awards and garnered glowing reviews.

Set in the remote forests of Russia’s far east, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival chronicles a terrifying duel to the death between a hunter and a massive Siberian tiger. Reviewing it in the Globe and Mail, Simon Winchester called the book “a tale of astonishing power and vigour” and reported that Brad Pitt had snapped up movie rights to the story.

Ten other top-flight authors will share the stage with Vaillant during the weekend festival.

Iconic west coast writer Anne Cameron, along with Paul Headrick, Heather Burt and brilliant newer novelists Gurjinder Basran and Bernice Friesen, will represent fiction writing.

Poets Kate Braid, Wayde Compton and Evelyn Lau will deliver powerful, no-nonsense poetry. Andrew Nikiforuk’s writing on Alberta’s “dirty oil” and Daphne Bramham’s reportage on the perils of polygamy at Bountiful, B.C. round out an extremely strong non-fiction component.

In addition, 10 accomplished Denman writers and an enthusiastic group of young writers will present their works.

The main part of the festival runs from July 14 to 17. The morning of July 15 opens with a special presentation by Denman Islander and Kwakiutl First Nation member Maxine Matilpi.

Now in its 10th year, the Denman festival has been hailed as one of the best small literary events in Canada, in part because of the quality of writers it attracts and in part because of its intimate atmosphere of a literary village in which readers and writers intermingle throughout the weekend.

The festival offers a smorgasbord of literary events, including intimate readings by a single author, themed readings featuring two writers, and main stage events in which four writers join host Bill Richardson of CBC Radio fame for discussion and readings around a particular theme.

The participating authors will each offer workshops on numerous aspects of the writing craft. Famed author and teacher Jack Hodgins will conduct a five-day Workshop for Writers of Narrative from July 11 to 15 and teacher/writer Heather Burt will do manuscript assessments during the festival for those who have pre-registered.

Brochures and registration forms are available at The Laughing Oyster, Blue Heron, and at both Courtenay and Comox Libraries. All festival details, and an easy way to register online, are at denmanislandwritersfestival.com. Alternatively, you can phone  250-335-3353.

It’s easy to foot-passenger over from Buckley Bay since everything happens in the village itself, a short walk up the hill from the ferry landing and evening sessions end in plenty of time to catch a return ferry.