October 20th, 2014
The Whistler Readers and Writers Festival, celebrating its thirteenth anniversary, has continued getting bigger and more innovative. Festival director Stella Harvey says this year the event attracted its highest number of visitors yet, rising to 1500 from last year’s 1300.
“It’s come a long way from the twenty people in my living room that we started with in 2001,” says the indefatigable Harvey, widely lauded for being the founder and inspirational leader of the festival.
Running over three days from October 17th to 19th, writers from across the country entertained and educated through readings and workshops spanning all book genres. Key readings and interviews were hosted by CBC’s Bill Richardson in conversation with novelist Joseph Boyden, most-recently author of The Orenda (Hamish Hamilton Canada 2013) on Saturday evening, and CBC’s Mark Forsythe with author Ann-Marie MacDonald who read from her much-anticipated new title Adult Onset (Penguin Random House Canada 2014).
In terms of numbers, B.C. authors were at the forefront including Grant Buday, spoken word artist Kevan Anthony Cameron (a.k.a. Scruffmouth), Charles Demers, Steven Galloway, Genni Gunn, Grant Lawrence, Arno Kopecky, Mary MacDonald, Audrey Thomas, Stephen Vogler and Ian Weir.
One of the unexpected festival highlights was opening night’s Literary Cabaret when a jazz band accompanied readers with improvisational music and sound effects. The cross-fertilization not only entertained the crowd but spurred on the authors during their performances. And a Comedy Writers Lunch on Saturday, featuring Grant Lawrence, Charlie Demers, Luba Goy and Grant Buday, had the diners in stitches.
The festival didn’t end with weekend activities. Organizers brought a bit of the literary hoopla to high school classrooms on the following Monday when Boyden and Mètis poet and fiction writer Katherena Vermette addressed students living on the Sea-to-Sky highway corridor from Squamish to Pemberton and Mount Currie.
Bravo to the festival and Stella Harvey!