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Wordfest celebrates all things literary

By Stephanie Tang, October 9 2014 —

Readers and writers rejoice — Wordfest is almost here. The festival’s 19th year starts Oct. 14 and is aiming to be the biggest and best yet.

Wordfest is a not-for-profit literary festival that unites readers and writers in celebration of the written word. Writer’s workshops and the opportunity to mingle with talented Canadian and international authors are a few of the treats that await festival goers.

Renowned guests include Naomi Klein, Chris Turner, Emma Donoghue, among others. Calgary’s poet laureate, Derek Beaulieu, hosts Poet Cabaret, where authors perform dramatic renditions of their works.

Annual festival goers can expect a few additions to this year’s programming, says festival director Jo Steffens.

“What’s changed? Just about everything,” Steffens says, adding this year’s festival includes more authors, workshops, youth events and French programming.”

Theatre Junction Grand, a historical theatre for contemporary arts, will host the festival. Located in downtown Calgary, the venue has the Flanagan Theatre, mezzanine bar, restaurant and festival bookstore.

“Part of the great thing about coming out to a festival as opposed to staying at home, sitting in your chair and reading a book is that you can share the experience,” Steffens says.

Last year, Wordfest introduced an online video channel. Seven events were recorded and streamed online, including several mini-films and documentaries. Steffens says her team intends to expand the video channel this year with high-quality streamed content.

“We can reach audiences that may be unable to come to Calgary to see the festival in person, and we can partner with libraries and rural communities, typically for our children’s events,” Steffens says.

Along  with Kenneth Oppel and Veronica Roth — superstars of the young adult genre — an additional 16 young adult authors are scheduled to speak.

These events celebrate the depth and pleasure of reading and encourage kids to develop a love of writing. Steffens believes these two messages are crucial to building the next generation of readers and writers.

“I think what really brought that home for me was attending some of the events with the children. They would be so amazed to see their favourite author, and then that would inspire them to want to become a writer,” Steffens says. “And I made that connection right there, that we need to be doing more to encourage everybody to write.”

Writing workshops centre on the craft of writing and each workshop is run by a different author who hosts discussions on topics like getting published, editing, cartooning and writing within certain genres. Wordfest runs from Oct. 14–19.

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