Guide to Kingston WritersFest 2016

writersfest, Kingston, OntarioKingston Writersfest is back next weekend in its 10th year of celebrating the power of the written word. This year’s festival runs from September 28th until October 2nd and is bigger than ever. Join in on live author discussions, readings, musical performances and workshops that will take place at various venues in downtown Kingston. Most events takes place at The Holiday Inn but be sure to check the Writersfest event page for full details. This year’s festival offers such a wide array of events that today’s guide is more of a mini-guide. We have highlighted only some of what will be taking place next week so be sure to check their site for full listings as well as author profiles and details on how to get tickets.

Wednesday, September 28th 2016

Loving the Bad Boy: A Story of Prison Romance (6:30pm-7:30pm, Holiday Inn): GG-winning author Diane Schoemperlen has penned a fearless and candid memoir about her six-year romantic involvement with a man convicted of second-degree murder. Join Diane and author Merilyn Simonds (The Convict Lover) for a frank discussion of the challenges and pitfalls that face anyone whose partner is incarcerated.

Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies (8pm-9pm, Holiday Inn): Award-winning biographer Ross King is back with Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies, a riveting account of Monet in the latter years of his life. Join Ross and Jacquelyn Coutré (curator, European collection, Agnes Etherington Art Centre), as they explore Ross’s sources and his unique insights into the Impressionist genius.

Thursday, September 29th 2016

Urban Tribes (9:30am-10:30am, Holiday Inn): Lisa Charleyboy is editor of Urban Tribes: Native Americans in the City. whose essays illustrate efforts of Indigenous youth to figure out who they are, and their responses to discrimination, racism, and other challenges, but also how they benefit from the diversity they find in the urban setting. Lisa discusses how First Nations youth find ways for their culture and values to survive—and enrich—city life.

This Is Not a Drill: Fiction And Fear (11am-12pm, Holiday Inn): In Shooter! Caroline Pignat, Governor General’s award winning YA author and high school teacher, creatively opens an important conversation about the rare but real risk of violence in Canadian high schools. Join Caroline as she discusses the value of stepping outside your fear and connecting with others unlike yourself for the common good.

Writing the Flawed Protagonist (11:10am-12:40pm, Holiday Inn): What’s your main character thinking? Join award-winning author Wesley King (OCDaniel) in an exploration of how great literary protagonists are developed and how you can create your own truly unique characters by imbuing them with a flawed humanity. With an additional focus on mental health in literature, participants will have a chance to develop their characters, stretch their creativity in some improv games, and discuss how to create imperfect and memorable protagonists.

Storytelling for Grownups (3pm-4:30pm, Holiday Inn): There has been a resurgence of interest in oral storytelling, and award-winning writer, comedian, and actor Andy Jones (member of CODCO comedy troupe) is a master, most recently performing his own retellings of traditional Newfoundland “Jack” tales. Andy starts off with a storytelling performance and follows up with instruction and advice about writing and presenting your own or others’ stories in performance.

International Marquee (8pm-9:30pm, The Grand Theatre): Join award winning American journalist and author Annie Proulx, and Man Booker Prize finalist, Irish-Canadian novelist Emma Donoghue for an evening of conversation hosted by Eric Friesen.

Friday, September 30th 2016

Stranger in a Strange Land: Displacement and Identity (9:30am-10:30am, Holiday Inn): Governor General’s Award-winner for The Law of Dreams, Peter Behrens returns with the historical novel Carry Me, which delivers an extended meditation on the experience of outcasts and refugees, and the difficulty of finding a national identity. Peter talks about these universal themes with Wayne Grady.

Compassion and the Clinic (1pm-2pm, Holiday Inn): David Goldbloom’s book How Can I Help?: A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist reminds us what compassion looks like. In a frank conversation with Michael Condra, retired director of Health, Counselling and Disability Services at Queen’s University, David, who currently has an active psychiatry practice, talks about the daily challenges for clinicians, as well as for laypeople in dealing with those who suffer from mental illness.

Lines of Flight: An Atomic Memoir coming! (5pm-7pm, Sir John’s Public House): In her moving memoir Lines of Flight, author Julie Salverson, creative resilience trainer, and drama professor at both Queen’s University and Royal Military College, traces the impact of uranium from its origin in the lands of the Dene on Great Bear Lake, through New Mexico, to Japan, where it ultimately was deployed in all its destructive power on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Join Julie at a launch hosted by Wolsak and Wynn. Refreshments will be served. Cash bar.

The McGarrigles: A Musical Memoir (6:30pm-8pm, Holiday Inn): The McGarrigles are known world-wide for their music. In Mountain City Girls: The McGarrigle Family Album, sisters Anna and Jane recount not only the girls’ childhood in Montreal, but go back to their ancestors’ early days in Canada. In an informal conversation interspersed with music, Anna and Jane chat with Sarah Harmer about their music, their late sister, Kate, and the importance of family.

(Re)visions: The Indigenous Voice in Fiction (8:30pm-10pm, Holiday Inn): Join Gail Anderson-Dargatz (The Spawning Grounds), Cherie Dimaline (A Gentle Habit), and Tracey Lindberg (Birdie) as they read from their work and explore in conversation the many ways that the stories of First Nations peoples can be heard and interpreted.

Saturday, October 1

Writing the Past: Historical Fiction (9am-11:30am, Holiday Inn): Award-winning author Kate Taylor has written three literary novels set partly or exclusively in the 19th century. She examines the practical, artistic, and ethical aspects of incorporating historical elements into contemporary fiction. Kate shares samples of published works, and discusses research techniques and literary style, comparing the demands of compiling fact with those of inventing fiction. She will publicly assess the strengths and weaknesses of writing samples submitted in advance by class members.

A Passion for Art and Nature (10:30am-11:30am, Holiday Inn): Robert Bateman, Canadian naturalist and painter, is a living legend. In conversation with Lawrence Scanlan, Bob delves into the contents of his beautifully illustrated memoir Life Sketches, and talks about his artistic vision, and the life-long inspiration provided by the natural world.

Thrillers Made for the Movies (1:30pm-2:30pm, Holiday Inn): Rural Canada evokes cinematic images of sleepy towns, polite townsfolk, and quiet lives, but Iain Reid’s debut novel I’m Thinking of Ending Things and Samuel Archibald’s Giller short-listed short fiction collection Arvida take readers down a darker path. Join Iain and Samuel as they explore movie-worthy abandoned buildings, unlit stairwells, shadowy forests, and the darker side of the human psyche in a smart and engaging discussion of the emerging landscape of Canadian literary chillers.

Viva Voce (2:30pm-4pm, Holiday Inn): Poet Ashley Elizabeth-Best kicks off what is sure to be a lively afternoon with a reading from her remarkable debut collection Slow States of Collapse. Meg Erb and Thalia Danielson, winners of the Merilyn Simonds Protégé Project 2016 read original pieces composed during their four-month private mentorship with local writers, and are followed by a selection of curated original readings by promising writers, aged 13-30.

The Big Idea: A Good Death (7pm-8:30pm, Holiday Inn): The life-and-death issue of physician-assisted death is at the forefront of current affairs in Canada. Carol Off leads a timely discussion with Sandra Martin, author of A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices, public health reporter and public policy writer André Picard of the Globe and Mail, and Chris Simpson, past-president of the Canadian Medical Association.

Sunday, October 2

Call of the Forest (10:30am-12:30pm, Holiday Inn): Join botanist and acclaimed author Diana Beresford-Kroeger at a special preview screening of Call Of The Forest – The Forgotten Wisdom Of Trees (dir. Jeff McKay), an 85-minute documentary that follows Diana’s exploration of our profound biological and spiritual connection to ancient forests.

The Interviewer, Interviewed (12pm-1pm, Holiday Inn): Imagine a conversation where the tables are delightfully turned on renowned broadcaster and writer Eleanor Wachtel. Listen in as fellow broadcaster Eric Friesen gets the inside story on Eleanor’s amazing writing and new collection of her favourite interviews The Best of Writers & Company: Interviews with 15 of the World’s Greatest Authors.

Writing the LGBTQ Voice (12pm-2:30pm, Holiday Inn): Award-winning author Shyam Selvadurai (Funny Boy, Swimming in the Monsoon Sea) helps LGBTQ teens and adults find their voice as writers. In this inclusive master class Shyam also welcomes teens or adults who may not identify, themselves, as LGBTQ, but who want to reflect and write on their experience of having a sibling, friend, parent, or child who does identify, and to write the experience and voice honestly, faithfully, and respectfully.

Hometown Heroes: New Authors (4:30pm-5:30pm, Holiday Inn): Celebrate the recent achievements of local writers Kirsteen MacLeod, Julie Salverson, and Morgan Wade as they break onto the scene as published authors. Each author will read from their work, and then join Mark Sinnett, himself a local author, for a light-hearted chat about the books, and about the accumulated blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into their work. Learn what obstacles they overcame, and what inspired them to keep going through to publication.

The Robertson Davies Lecture (8pm, Isabel Bader Centre): Booker-nominated English author David Mitchell presents the 4th Robertson Davies Lecture, created in 2013 in celebration of Kingston WritersFest’s 5th birthday and to honour the 100th anniversary of the birth of Davies, who spent his youth in Kingston and published his first work here. David will be introduced by Eleanor Wachtel, and will lecture in response to the statement: “Everything matters,” a quotation from Davies’ The Rebel Angels. Afterwards, David and Eleanor will share in a few moments of conversation. A not-to-be-missed Festival finale!

Danielle Lennon

Danielle Lennon is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. She was the Editor, Community Event Coordinator and Contributor at-large (2008-2018). She is otherwise employed as a section violinist with the Kingston Symphony, violin teacher, studio musician and cat lover. Learn more about Danielle...

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