Quest Writer's Conference seeks applicants 

Faculty for June event includes Pulitzer-winning poet and Order of Canada-winning novelist

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - INSPIRATIONAL Quest University Canada is the setting for its second Writer's Conference in June, with award-winning poets and prose faculty working with participants.
  • File photo
  • INSPIRATIONAL Quest University Canada is the setting for its second Writer's Conference in June, with award-winning poets and prose faculty working with participants.

Last year's Quest Writer's Conference continues to be a success, says organizer Jessamyn Smyth, because the instructors who took part are still mentoring their students, thanks to social media.

"It has lasted. I see people talking with each other on Facebook all the time, still exchanging writing. It created a community that has held," Smyth says.

"(I wanted the conference) to not only capture the laidback, friendly nature of the West Coast of Canada, but specifically B.C.... this landscape speaks so powerfully.

"Anybody who comes here, who is awake in any way, can't not hear this beautiful landscape speaking and inspiring."

The conference — which allows participating writers to work closely with some of the best talent in North America — takes place from June 12 to 19 on Quest University Canada's campus in Squamish.

Those wanting to take part must submit a sample of original work, a biography and cover letter by the deadline of Sunday, May 15.

There is a regional tuition fee for those able to drive in each day of $900; participants requiring room and board will pay $2,500.

Smyth has been moved by the continued generosity of those who participated in the program, saying that the writing industry can become cutthroat and competitive, which makes the work suffer.

"We want to create a community space where writers could give in an extraordinary way," Smyth adds.

The result has been that several of last year's participants — who ranged from published authors to new writers aged from 19 to 70 — have published works in the past year off the back of the mentoring they received.

For 2016, Smyth wants to continue with small seminars and diverse teachers. Faculty members include:

Poet Natalie Diaz, the 2012 Lannan Literary Fellow and recipient of the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University. A Mojave from the Gila River Indian Tribe, her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts and directs the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program;

Poet Vijay Seshadri has written three collections of poetry — including 3 Sections, which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He has also won the James Laughlin Award for The Long Meadow;

Novelist Jane Urquhart has been a finalist for the Giller Prize and for a regional Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book. She has received the Marian Engel Award and is a member of the Order of Canada;

Poet Martin Espada is a winner of the Shelley Memorial Award, the American Book Award and the PEN/Revson Fellowship, as well as a Guggenheim Fellow. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst;

Fiction writer Anne Fleming teaches at UBC Okanagan and has been shortlisted for the Governor-General's Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and the Danuta Gleed Award.

The faculty will also be reading from their works at free public readings and receptions while the festival takes place.

For more information and to register, visit www.questu.ca and look for the link under Public Opportunities.

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