Victoria Festival of Authors celebrates the art of writing

Five-day event Oct. 2-6 features readings, workshops and more from decorated literary talents

It’s a festival for writers, by writers.

Whether one is a beginner or an experienced literary artist, or has specific literary preferences, there’s something for everyone at the Victoria Festival of Authors. The fourth edition of this diverse celebration of writing, happening Oct. 2-6 at venues around the city, features local and visiting literary talents in all genres reading their works, offering writing tips and talking about their trade.

The festival has grown and evolved since its beginnings, says founder and artistic director Vanessa Herman. She points to the free opening night event being held Wednesday at the Victoria Arts Council gallery (7:30 p.m., 1800 Store St.) as a good example of the blending of arts happening today.

“I really love fusion-style events where we’re looking at more than one art medium at one time,” she says. “We definitely have the literary element, but the last couple of years we’ve had the literary twist, with musicians and a more immersive experience. The first year in 2016 saw the skeleton version of what the festival is now. We’ve bulked it up year after year, and that’s been really great and rewarding to see that kind of progression happen.”

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With a variety of readings and workshops focusing on the specifics of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, as well as more general themes about writing and getting started, the festival aims to provide inspiration, motivation and usable techniques for writers at all stages.

Reigning Griffin Poetry Prize-winning author Eve Joseph takes part in two sessions at the Victoria Festival of Authors this year, Crossing the Line and Talkin’ Griffin to Griffin’ with past winner Billy-Ray Belcourt. Photo by Yifan Bao

The opening night event offers an eclectic taste of what’s to come. Walk the Plank features readings from authors including Kayla Czaga (from her latest poetry collection Dunk Tank), Julie Paul (her new book of short stories, Meteorites), Yasuko Thanh (from her memoir, Mistakes to Run With) and Richard Van Camp (from his latest fiction collection, Mocccasin Square Gardens).

Poetry lovers will enjoy the Thursday night readings and discussion, Crossing the Line, at the Metro Theatre featuring Griffin Poetry Prize-winning authors Eve Joseph (Quarrels) and Billy-Ray Belcourt (NDN Coping Mechanisms), plus Erin Mouré (The Elements). Admission is $15 for this 7:30 p.m. event.

The full-day schedules begins Friday, Oct. 4 and see Van Camp leading off with The Art of Storytelling (three hours, $99 at Good Workshop Studio, 536 Herald St.). Subsequent workshops range from developing good habits as a writer, learning about writing mystery thrillers, dispensing with traditional writing styles, moving your writing from good to great, and more.

One event Herman is particularly excited about is the hike to pristine Mary Lake in the Highlands, entitled Words in the Woods. With only 25 spots available, this Sunday morning event (10:30 a.m.) is expected to sell out, she says. Facilitators Beth Kope and Yvonne Blomer get hikers primed with poetry along the way, then writers Marilyn Bowering, Ariel Gordon, Michael Kenyon and Sonnet L’Abbé will share their words at the lake.

The festival also features sessions aimed at young writers and readers, and special morning and afternoon workshops have been planned for area high school students, to be held at Victoria High School.

Herman says some workshops are sold out while others are filling up fast. She encourages anyone interested to act fast to secure tickets to any of the ticketed events. Descriptions of all the sessions can be found at victoriafestivalofauthors.ca/#schedule and tickets can be purchased online at eventbrite.ca.

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