Writers are flooding Kingston WritersFests to better understand the meaning of writing.
The Kingston WritersFest returns for its 15th annual festival from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1 at the Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront. The year’s theme is “unbound” and includes over 40 authors with 50 events about how to write or publish a piece of literature.
Featured authors hosting workshops and performances include Emma Donoghue, Alicia Elliot, Patrick deWitt, Britta Badour, and Vincent Lam. Aara Macauley, Kingston WritersFest’s artistic director, said she was happy to reach out to Queen’s students because it’s a great opportunity for students to get involved in writing in a non-academic setting.
Macauley said it can be intimidating for students to get involved in writing if they don’t have prior experience, but these workshops open a space to learn.
The writing workshops are approximately two hours long and cover topics such as writing memoirs, how to get published, and fundamentals of writing. Special workshops investigate how to work with a creative partner and writing about difficult subject matters.
“There’s a nice variety there, and it’s open to all levels of expertise whether you’re writing for the first time or just trying to hone your final draft and learn some new skills.”
Alongside the workshops are performances featuring guest speakers. This year, they have 25 stage events to give the festival a chance to celebrate its 15th anniversary.
“It’s an opportunity to look forward and consider what the future is for the festival and writing in general.”
She said the WritersFest is encouraging people to think about how written art can impact them in ways beyond the immediate idea of a book. This year, Macauley considered what the festival means to the community and its influence on the Kingston art scene.
“Our audiences have always been fantastic, very engaged, very intelligent, and curious. They’re not afraid to be challenged in terms of what they’re seeing on stage,” she said.
The Kingston WritersFest has genres for all ages, such as fiction, poetry, and history. They’ve worked on programming for the past year to engage with younger audiences and more contemporary works.
“Just making sure that the kinds of topics we’re addressing on stage are the kinds of issues that people are talking about in real life,” Macauley said.
The festival’s biggest challenge is COVID-19, and Macauley said many people are burnt out.
“People don’t have the disposable income they used to have. Some people are nervous about gathering in crowds. I feel like [COVID-19] has been a challenge for us. You know there is a real crisis for not-for-profits when it comes to volunteers.”
Though recovering from the pandemic has been slow and the rebuilding process needed lots of adaptability, Macauley’s looking forward to the community coming out and supporting the festival in any way they can.
“The anniversary year is going to be special, and it’s an opportunity for us to practice some of the ideas that have been churning.”
Macauley encourages people, especially students, to attend the workshops and fall into the world of writing. Queen’s, RMC, and SLC students can receive free student rush seats with a valid student ID if they attend the event at least 15 minutes before the event begins.
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