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?