VBC ‘Views — The Vancouver Writers Fest


ReVIEWS, preVIEWS, interVIEWS, and overVIEWS: here’s where you’ll find out what the Vancouver Book Club team thinks about the literary scene in Vancouver. What you should read, where you should go, who you should sit up and notice.


On a rainy day there is nothing I love more than to get cozy with a book. Since it’s a rainy October week, how about getting cozy with a bunch of other book lovers and the people who write the words you love to read?

In the midst of the fall flurry of literary activity in Vancouver comes the 25th annual Vancouver Writers Fest this week to Granville Island. Celebrating its quarter century with a new name (it was previously called the “Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival”) and an update to its look, this year’s festival is its biggest ever with 77 events over six days, plus a limited edition chapbook and, in true Vancouver collaborative fashion, a literary theatrical piece utilizing the words of three local poets.

As often happens, most of  the events with the biggest names (such as Margaret Atwood, Graeme Gibson, Gordon Pinsent, Kenneth Oppel, Cory Doctorow and Anne Perry) sold out weeks ago, but there are currently almost 50 events still with tickets available.

Deciding what to see at the Writers Fest is always a difficult task, unless your tastes run to very specific genres. If humour is your thing, then Humour With a Bite might be just for you. History buffs can gain some insight to Past Times. If you love a good crime novel, most of the events are already full but surprisingly there are still tickets available for Redemption, a discussion with Anne Perry and her biographer Joanne Drayton. And for poetry lovers there are plenty of choices including The Poetry Bash and A Tribute to Patrick Lane, in addition to Spoken World which promises to be an entertaining evening with Ivan E. Coyote, C.R. Avery, and Lemon Sissay.

This year’s festival also offers up a number of intimate evenings and conversations, including Chip Kidd with Douglas Coupland (a must for those of you interested in design), Chan Koochung with Charles Foran, Cory Doctorow with William Gibson, Zakes Mda with David Chariandy, and Dennis Lee with Brad Cran.

A couple of events I’m looking forward to are Women and Literature with Gillian Jerome, Gail Jones, Kate Mosse and Susan Swan, and Torn From the Pages, an evening of words and music inspired by local writer Timothy Taylor’s The Blue Light Project.

Granville Island is home to a number of theatres and performance spaces and this year’s festival is taking this to heart. First up is Electric Company’s Initiation Trilogy, a three-part experiential and physical journey running every day of the festival and continuing to October 28. Written by Marita Dachsel and based on poetry collections by Dachsel, Elizabeth Bachinsky, and Jennica Harper, Initiation Trilogy  is a 90-minute roving show that takes place across four different indoor venues on Granville Island. This collaboration is part of Boca Del Lupo’s Micro Performance Series. Look for our review next week.

There is also a staged reading of another one of Timothy Taylor’s works, The Great Raymond, at Studio 1398 on Saturday. Produced by Ruby Slippers Theatre, directed by Diane Brown, and performed by cast of Vancouver’s finest professional actors, Taylor’s play looks at police corruption in 1950s Vancouver.

To mark the Festival’s 25-year milestone, Alistair MacLeod has written the short story Remembrance, which he’ll be reading it at a sold-out event on Saturday. A limited edition chapbook of Remembrance has been produced for sale at the festival.

The final event of this year’s Writers Fest is sure to provoke and challenge those who attend. The State and Fate of This Small Blue Planet brings together David Suzuki and Australian scientist Tim Flannery as they discuss the current state of our environment and offer solutions for our planet’s future. This event will be at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.

All details, including the Festival at a Glance, can be found at www.writersfest.bc.ca.