Writer’s Festival brings over 60 renowned authors to Kingston

Festival unites literary audiences for an eventful five days

Canadian authors from all literary genres came together from Sept. 24-28 to host over 50 events for the sixth annual Kingston’s Reader and Writer’s Festival.

Kingston’s Writers Festival is a charitable non-profit five-day event inviting avid readers and writers to listen and engage with over 60 local, national and international writers. The festival welcomed an audience of 8,500 people from across Canada to its venue at Kingston’s Waterfront Holiday Inn.

Since 2009, the festival has had presentations from notable Canadian authors such as Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, J.M. Coetzee, Naomi Wolf and many more.

To open this year’s ceremony, audiences gathered at the Grand Theatre to witness CBC’s Michael Enright interview Wally Lamb about his international best-seller,We Are Water.

Over 50 events were staged throughout the festival’s following days. The events included onstage readings, discussions and conversations, as well as a number of workshops conducted by the writers.

The organizers of Kingston’s WritersFest tried to strike a balance between the themes discussed by the writers. This year’s discussions were broadly grouped into themes, including the future of planet Earth, identity and Canadian nationality and heroes of politics, poetry, sports and fantasy.

Discussions were further specified as the festival organizers created groups of two or three authors discussing similar topics.

“We try to program conversation, so we look for people who are playing in the same playground and get them to talk about it together,” said Kat Evans, festival publicist.

An example of the festival’s many successful collaborative efforts was the discussion Heroic Poetry, conducted by authors Jeramy Dodds and Wayne Clifford. Both Canadian poets produced works involving ancient mythology. Dodds translated an ancient Norse saga, The Poetic Edda, and Clifford wrote Theseus, a collection of stories based on Greek mythology.

The discussion resulted in an interactive conversation between the authors and the audience.

“Most people seemed to have an interest in mythology, so the questions were great,” Dodds said.

Evans paid tribute to Kingston’s supportive literary community for the festival’s continued success.

“The audiences are fantastic,” Evans said. “People have smart questions and want to be there. We have a community here that are engaged with the literary world.” She added that the presence of a literarily-inclined audience stems from the academic facilities in Kingston, including Queen’s. The demand for events such as the Kingston WritersFest is evident and contributes to the festival’s annual success.

“It’s just the nature of the community but it allows us to put together a festival in a community that wants it.” Evans said.

This year’s festival concluded with a lecture by the renowned Wayson Choy, author of The Jade Peony.

The Kingston WritersFest committee has already started planning for next year’s festival.

“We pay attention to what’s new in the book scene fairly far in advance,” Evans said.

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