More than writing at festival 

Two evenings of lively, outside-the-box author performances part of the lineup for Whistler Readers and Writers Festival

You don’t have to write to enjoy the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival Friday, Sept. 14 to Sunday, Sept. 16 in Whistler. Along with workshops all day Saturday and coffee shop seminars Sunday afternoon, the festival hosts two reading performances.

The Opening Night Cabaret kicks off this year’s Writing as Performance theme with five literary hounds dramatically transferring print to performance on Friday at 7 p.m. at MY Millennium Place.

Local scribe Pam Barnsley will host the dramatic evening exploding with unconventional, pot-stirring performances from writers Chris Craddock, Margaret Macpherson, Michael V. Smith and Oni the Haitian Sensation.

Oni was the first Canadian woman to tour the European Slam Poetry circuit with performances in Europe, Australia, Canada and the U.S. The poet, voted Ottawa’s favourite by the Ottawa Xpress Arts Weekly, views poetry as a way to empower, educate and entertain on subjects not always covered in mainstream media.

There is nothing straight and narrow about Chris Craddock. The playwright made his writing debut with SuperEd for Terrible Children Theatre. Later, he took his humour and traveled the Fringe festival circuit, where SuperEd shared the playbill with another play of his, Indulgences. When Craddock isn’t directing productions at the Edmonton Comedy Arts Festival and Vancouver Comedy Festival, he is entertaining audiences with his humorous wordplay.

Margaret Macpherson can’t keep up with her Manitoba book award nominations. Her most recent coup is a nomination for her first novel, Released (Signature Editions, 2006). She also published four non-fiction books including the award-winning Nellie McClung: Voice for the Voiceless. The Northwest Territories native keeps her success grounded with three kids, a penchant for red wine and a serious aversion to housework.

Michael V. Smith rounds out the group. In addition to winning numerous awards for his novel, Cumberland, and fiction magazine articles, he is also an independent filmmaker, comedian, performance artist and occasional clown. Audiences can expect the unexpected from this creative shapeshifter who published his first book of poetry last year: What You Can’t Have (Signature Editions, 2006).

Whistler’s own stand-up comedienne Pam Barnsley will oversee the wordplay zoo. Tickets are $15.

The following night off-the-page sharings will narrow down to one writer with Whistler Reads founder Paula Shackleton in partnership with The Vicious Circle hosting a live reading from Jen Sookfong Lee on Saturday at 8 p.m. at MY Millennium Place.

The Vancouver author will read from her newest novel, The End of East (Knopf Canada, New Face of Fiction, 2007). The 20th-century look delves into the underside of Chinese Canadian history through the stories of three generations of Chinese-Canadians in Vancouver’s Eastside.

A National Post critic calls the book, “impressive, both in terms of its accomplished prose and its ambitious three-generational scope.”

Draw your own conclusions with the author and editor of online magazines Schema and Wet Ink reading from her book and fielding questions at the evening event.

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