Write on at Writers Fest

writers-festA thousand words simply wouldn’t be enough to describe the picture of literary luminaries gathering for the annual Victoria Writers Festival—and, not surprisingly, our own Department of Writing will be well-represented at the event. More than just faculty, however, the Writers Fest also features a number of alumni and sessional instructors as well—18 in all!
Running Thursday, November 6, to Saturday, November 8, at Oak Bay United (near the intersection of Foul Bay Road and Oak Bay Avenue), the Victoria Writers Festival offers 10 events and seven workshops, including three evening gala readings, six panel discussions, and the annual Carol Shields Lecture.

GG finalist Bill Gaston (photo Jen Steele)

GG finalist Bill Gaston
(photo Jen Steele)

Foremost among the participants is current Governor General’s Literary Award nominee and senior faculty member Bill Gaston, alongside fellow faculty members Lee Henderson, Kevin Kerr and Joan MacLeod.

Alumni participants include two more 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award nominees—poets Arleen Paré and Garth Martens—as well as noted novelist Aislinn Hunter, recently published author Aaron Shephard, poets Anne-Marie Turza, Kayla Czaga and Gillian Wigmore, queer writer Ali Blythe, playwright Dave Brock and writer Eve Joseph. Fine Arts alumna playwright Janet Munsil—also nominated for a 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award—will be there as well.

Our participating sessional instructors include Giller Prize-nominated author John Gould, Marita Daschel (former Centre for Studies in Religion and Society Artist-in-Residence), and 2013 Southam Lecturer and acclaimed CBC broadcaster Jo-Ann Roberts.

There’s plenty to hear, and think about, so be sure to check out the list of events.

Alumna & book prize sponsor Aislinn Hunter

Alumna & book prize sponsor Aislinn Hunter

And in other Writers Fest news, congratulations go out to to Department of Writing student Meghan Casey, who was recently announced as the winner of the 2014 Books Matter Prize. The one-time prize for UVic students—sponsored by alumna Aislinn Hunter, with support from Munro’s Books and the Victoria Writers Festival—offers a $500 gift certificate for Munro’s Books. Students were asked to submit an essay about a book that has made a difference to their writing life, and Casey’s submission—which starts with a distracted bathtub reading of Tim O’Brien’s short story The Things They Carried—caught Hunter’s attention.

Better still, Hunter was so impressed by fellow Writing student Claire Horwood‘s submission about Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness, that she created a “runner-up” prize of $100 and a place in her masters fiction workshop, Whatever Happens, Remember That Your Voice Is Unique, which she will give at the festival on November 8.

You can read Casey and Horwood’s winning pieces here.

Honourable Mentions go out to third-year Writing student Cara Marks (inspired by Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test), second-year student Sam Dodd (Richard Ford’s Independence Day), and first-year Writing students Sarah Hughes (John Vaillant’s The Golden Spruce); and Emma Carter (Charles Bukowski’s Fear is a Dog from Hell).