Writers festival 

Maude Barlow, Joseph Boyden and Eden Robinson headline Whistler Writers Festival

By Cindy Filipenko

Now in its fifth year, the Whistler Writers Festival has developed into an event with appeal for both writers and readers.

From Thursday, Sept. 14 to Sunday, Sept 17 literary types will rule the resort, proving perhaps at least for a few days that the pen is mightier than the mountain bike.

"It’s really important that people know that there are events for writers, but there are several events open to the public," said Stella Harvey, organizer and founder of the sponsoring Vicious Circle writers group.

"We have reading events with Canadian authors reading from their works. We have a seminar series featuring various authors on different aspects of the writing profession. Those are open to everyone."

The Canadian authors appearing for the reading component will be recognizable to anyone who has cracked a Maclean’s or turned on CBC radio in the last five years. Anti-globalization advocate and chair of The Council of Canadians, Maude Barlow will give the festival’s keynote address on Sept 14 at 8 p.m and read from a selection of her works.

The next night Irish-Scottish-Métis writer Joseph Boyden takes the stage at Millennium Place to read from Three Days Road . The award-winning novel, which tells the story of two Cree snipers in World War I, was featured on CBC’s Canada Reads program this past spring.

The reading series concludes on the Saturday night with Eden Robinson. Robinson, a member of Haisla Nation who grew up in the northern First Nations community of Kitamaat Village, won international critical acclaim with the publication of her debut novel, Monkey Beach , in 2000. Her new book, Blood Sports , focuses on life in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, revisiting characters from her collection of short stories, Traplines .

Tickets for the reading series are an affordable $10 per night.

Robinson will also be on hand to mentor two First Nations writers who will be participating under the festival’s scholarship program.

"We do what we can to help eliminate barriers to attending," said Harvey. "A couple of years we sponsored a youth scholarship and that worked out very well."

The scholarships are valued at $450 – the cost for the retreat – and entitle participants to attend all aspects of the festival, from the opening reception to the final seminar on pitching prospective publishers.

While the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations will award the First Nations scholarships to a member of each band, spaces are still available for the workshop series. To be eligible, applicants must send a sample of their writing to Harvey via e-mail at stella25@telus.net . Submissions must be double-spaced and include a title page with the participant’s name, title of the work and genre. Both fiction and non-fiction works are eligible.

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