What a great opportunity to launch my blog and my writing / editing business! For my Big Moment, my guardian angels have brought me just the right public event, down the road from my place. The Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival runs next week July 18-20. There will be writers, editors, and readers by dozens (a few seats are still available in writers workshops). Look for my table! I’m planning an intriguing competition. Please stop by to say hello.
This is a small festival. All venues are in Denman’s “downtown” area. Readings, workshops and panel discussions all happen within a hundred yards of each other. Delicious food’s available right there too, so it’s possible to spend the whole long weekend in this small area, meeting lots of very interesting people. I’ve volunteered at the last two Festivals–what a great buzz it is.
City festivals are much less intense, because the impact is dispersed by large city spaces and commuting. Everyone goes home after an event, and they rarely meet again. By contrast, people get to know each other at festivals in small areas over several days. Like the South African National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa. THAT’S a dynamic experience! I saw 20 of them. Thousands of visitors, and artists of every medium from Africa and elsewhere, cram into that tiny city. It abandons familiar routines for ten days. Streets and squares become car-free markets, schools close, and food is available almost everywhere. Visitors and performers are accommodated in school and university dorms, private homes, and campsites. One big party.
Little Denman Island has more than a few people of considerable literary talent, and they will chair most panel discussions and readings. It’s an interesting mix of big names and local names at the panel discussions and readings. Hearing writers read their work is a fast way to understand them. I’d tried Kevin Chong’s “Neil Young Nation” (well reviewed) but didn’t get his subtle postmodern humor.
When Kevin read last year, I understood his combination of gravity and humor. He chose a detailed description of some really “down home” stable tasks, from “My Year of the Racehorse.” Jane Austen herself may have enjoyed the comedy of manners. The audience, the other writers, and the chair tried to look polite (I giggled throughout). He finally let everyone off the hook, closing his book with, “…and I hope I’ve grossed you out.” There was still no laughter, I regret to say, but there was lots of hilarity at other times.
There’ll be other attractions complementing this year’s Festival. On the Friday evening you can hear jazz by Ken Hatch and friends outside the General Store, taste cider and beer inside, and enjoy the friendliness, diversity, and eccentricities of this precious small island. I hope you’ll visit.