Words on the Water writers’ festival committee member Ruth McMonagle shows off some featured works by this year’s festival authors.

Organizers gear up for 11th annual Words on the Water

The festival presents the writers’ works as “the written word, as spoken by the author”

The 11th annual Words on the Water Campbell River Writer’s Festival returns to the city this March, and with new young members of the organizing committee bringing a renewed energy to the event, long time organizers are excited for the 2012 festival.

“Words on the Water strives to bring the very best coastal writers to the region,” said founding committee member Ruth McMonagle, and with new committee members now into their third year, “they’re really into the heart and soul of it.”

“The younger people are committed to continuing on,” she said. “Trevor (McMonagle)’s been the chair for 11 years, and we’re just really happy to see it continue with their help.”

The festival presents the writers’ works as “the written word, as spoken by the author,” McMonagle explained, which adds a different tone to the works being presented.

The festival events take place March 23 and 24, 2012, with a unique series of events.

“The writers are a mix of male/female, urban/rural, and eastern/western,” McMonagle said. “You get a real dynamism of things.”

Friday night brings together all of the writers to present in pairs or groups. The Writers in Conversation session is preceded by the reading of the 2012 commissioned poem.

Friday’s pairings will include the contrasting experiences of  Daphne Marlatt, a writer in her 70’s who has published more than 20 books on a variety of topics with Garry Thomas Morse, an up-and-coming poet who has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for poetry.

Terry Fallis and Robert Wiersema, “who are hugely dynamic individuals,” will provide an interesting session, McMonagle said. Fallis is the author of Canadian best sellers The Best Laid Plans and The High Road, and Wiersema has written three books and is a noted literary reviewer.

Local MC John Elson will interview Trevor Herriot, the current Haig-Brown writer in residence and award winning author, naturalist and speaker.

And finally Gurjinder Basran, Susan Juby and Zsu Zsi Gartner will bring together their unique perspectives as Canadian female authors writing about the immigrant, rural, and urban experience. Basran is the author of Everything Was Good-bye, the winner of the 2011 Ethel Wilson Fiction Award for most outstanding fiction by a BC Author. Juby sets much of her work in a rural setting, and has written both young adult novels, and now, fiction aimed at adults. Gartner’s latest short fiction collection, Better Living through Plastic Explosives, was a Globe & Mail Best Book and on the Vancouver Sun’s top ten Canadian titles of 2011, as well as a finalist for the prestigious 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

“They come from different places but fit very dynamically together,” McMonagle said.

Saturday features longer sessions with the writers, with two writers per session, speaking for 45 minutes each.

The festival wraps up Saturday evening with a Literary Cabaret, where every writer will read or talk for about 10 minutes.

“The participants are encouraged to step out of their genres,” McMonagle said about the “very light and delightful” event.

“This portion of the festival is unique in that authors tend to branch out from the usual format and get creative with their presentation. After spending the weekend together, there is a real rapport between writers and audience and this is a particularly enjoyable session.”

The festival is held at the Maritime Heritage Discovery Centre, and receives support from federal grants, local Rotary clubs, community donations, local businesses and more. In addition, the event brings money into the community during a traditionally slow season.

Early bird tickets to this year’s festival will be available as of Feb. 1 at the Tidemark Theatre box office. Tickets are $65 for the weekend (until Feb. 29, $85 after), or $20 for individual sessions.

Visit WordsOnTheWater.ca