WORD Vancouver – A Festival for Literature

On Sunday, September 25th, I went to WORD Vancouver, a literary festival for BC’s local writers, poets, comic artists, magazine publishers, and small presses. The festival took place in front of and inside Vancouver Public Library, a beautiful, Coliseum-esque building that winds into itself.

The festival coincided with the Royal Couple’s visit to Vancouver, so there were a lot of people in the downtown area, but the crowds could have been equally divided between the events. One of the things I’ve really noticed about BC since moving here is just how vibrant the literary culture is here. Part of that is because the Canadian government assists the cultural arm of the publishing industry through grants and subsidies. Presses that promote the curation and celebration of Canadian heritage receive quite a bit of funding, mostly to allow them to compete with the U.S. economy (which is ten times the size of Canada’s), but also to ensure that not all of publishing is simply revenue-driven. It means that Canada’s small presses and magazines have enough of a safety net to be a little creative, be a little bold, and a little funky with what they choose to publish (and how).

WORD Vancouver is one of the places to really see how that affects the local publishing community. I went as a volunteer for Magazine Association of BC, and was given the very fun task of taking photos of the association’s members. It’s been a few weeks now since the event, so I can share those photos with you now.

The writing community in Vancouver is pretty tightly-knit: everyone seems to know everyone else, and as an outsider, it took a bit of time to get used to all the name dropping among the people present, but it’s wonderful to experience. It was also fun, as always, to get a bunch of swag. I didn’t buy anything, but ended up going home with four magazines and a couple of novels. Pretty fun!

Are there any local writing events you like going to in your part of the world?

8 thoughts on “WORD Vancouver – A Festival for Literature

  1. They have a wonderful book event every May in the Detroit area and they bring in some really good authors. Unfortunately, this year I was gone when they had Steve Hamilton here and a few years ago I was also gone when they brought in Steve Luxenberg. Next year my local library hopes to bring in one of my favorite authors and I will change whatever plans I have to attend.

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  2. This reminds me a little bit of the Boston Book Festival in Boston’s Back Bay / Copley Square district, by the Boston Public Library. I’ve been there three or four times. Usually there are seminars and workshops on all things bookish or literary in the surrounding buildings (did they have anything like that at WORD?), but there’s also a huge outdoor promenade of local literary journals, small presses, colleges and universities with MFA programs, writing organizations, etc. So I’ve often gone home with some free swag, too. Glad you had a good time!

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    1. Oh yeah, they did! When you walk into the inner promenade of the library, there were tables for writers’ collectives and calligraphy groups and so on. It was really neat… and since then, there’s been a ton more events all the time. I got to go to Writer’s Fest and hear Madeleine Thien speak. And so much free swag! I’m very excited because I’m attending my first real conference on Friday this week… and my school is paying for it!

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  3. It sounds like it was a delightful time for you. I’ve never been to any sort of literary event, period, and probably won’t ever be involved, but it’s pleasing to know that such things are happening. They’re important for all of us — attendees or not.

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