Sunday, July 5, 2009

NorthWords Writers Festival: The Fabulous Fourth

Let’s get in the Wayback Machine so I can blog about the NorthWords Writers Festival like it just ended yesterday. (When, in fact, it ended three weeks ago.)

This is the fourth year the festival has run, and it just keeps getting better – the board of directors (Doris McCann, Annelies Pool, Jill Vaydik, Larry Adamson, Richard Van Camp, David Malcolm, and John Mutford) deserve a big round of applause. Many thanks also go to Judith Drinnan of the Yellowknife Book Cellar, who hauled stacks of books to each of the public events so eager readers had easy access to the authors' wares.

In addition to the established public events, there were more writing workshops and panels than ever before. Guest authors included Giller Prize winner Joseph Boyden; science writer and broadcaster Jay Ingram; poet/writer/publisher Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm; and YA author Anita Daher (who used to live in Yellowknife and continues to be a good friend to many northern writers – like me!).

The public events were packed – I was late getting to the family barbecue and had to search for a parking spot. I was (again) a few minutes late to a lunch-time talk with Jay Ingram and local science author Jamie Bastedo, and only got a seat because the organizers were setting out extra chairs. I was definitely NOT late for the two open mikes at Javaroma (with dessert provided by DeBeers Canada) because I know from years gone by that those events very popular. The organizers had originally capped the attendance for Joseph Boyden’s workshop, but responded to popular demand and opened the floodgates. The other panels and workshops also garnered good crowds.

My book was hot off the presses and my publisher, Borealis Press, very kindly arranged to have a couple of boxes airlifted to Yellowknife. Richard Van Camp took every opportunity to make sure the assembled masses knew about it (thanks, Richard!), so my book sales got a kick-start. I attended as many events as possible and was exhausted by Saturday afternoon. A quick nap, and I was ready for the Fourth Annual De Beers Canada Gala Readings. Glad I made time to practice the passages I read – I think it went well!

If you live in Yellowknife, please consider volunteering for next year’s NorthWords. It’s great fun. For more info on the festival, just visit the website.

(Photo above: Cathy reading at the DeBeers Canada Gala. Photo below: signing a book for fellow northern author Mindy Willett.)