Poet Katherena Vermette heading to the Festival of Words

Lisa Goudy
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Poet Katherena Vermette is coming to the 2014 Saskatchewan Festival of Words.

For poet Katherena Vermette, the best part about poetry is how expressive and open it can be.

“Poetry is my first love. Poetry doesn’t concern itself with anything extraneous,” she said. “It’s really specific. It really goes right to the point. It’s a very different feel than traditional storytelling or fiction writing, which kind of is more of a journey, but really I like everything that I write and that’s why I write in multi-genres.”

Vermette, who won the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry for her first book, North End Love Songs, will be at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words in July.

“I’ve heard many brilliant things and I know a few artists and a few people in publishing who’ve attended and they have rave reviews. So I’m excited. I’m excited to go to Moose Jaw. Moose Jaw seems like a really neat town,” said Vermette.

As she is of Cree and Mennonite descent, she said she will probably going to speak about indigenous poetry and literature.

“I’m going to be structuring a lot of things around creative process and how to generate those ideas,” said Vermette. “I find that those are always my favourite things to talk about, particularly how people get started.”

In addition to her first book of poetry, Vermette’s children’s book series, The Seven Teachings Stories, is set for release this fall. She has also had work published in the literary anthology Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of water and edited the anthology xxx ndn: love and lust in ndn country in 2011.

“I’ve done a lot of short fiction and poetry and periodicals,” said Vermette. “I like to switch up. It depends on the feeling, depends on the mood.”

She finds it easy to get inspiration from everything around her.

“So many things can inspire and can generate an emotional response,” said Vermette. “I write about my world. I write about what I experience. I like to write about people. I’m very character driven writer, particularly in fiction, and I like to explore that emotional world that happens in life.”

North End Love Songs is about growing up in Winnipeg, which is where she is from and currently lives. She is also a student in creative writing at the University of British Columbia and a member of the Aboriginal Writers Collective of Manitoba.

She has been writing professionally for 10 years.

“You start off slow and you find that ever so elusive voice,” said Vermette. “Writing takes a long time to get to where you want to be.”

As for the festival, she said she is looking forward to the drive as she loves road trips and for the event itself.

“We are there for four days and the request is unusual for festivals that they would like you to spend the four days. So that’s nice because it’s relaxing. It’s not going to be pressure to get in and perform and get out,” said Vermette.

“I’m going to be able to explore the festival myself, which I think is going to be a lot of fun just to sit into workshops and meet with other writers.”

The Saskatchewan Festival of Words will take place from July 17 to 20.  Early bird passes are available for $175. After June 1, passes are $200. Flex passes for individual sessions are $100.

For more information, visit www.festivalofwords.com or contact the office at 306-691-0557.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.


Organizations: University of British Columbia

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Winnipeg, Manitoba

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