Inspirational channels discovered at Festival of Words

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Published on July 17, 2014

Kids between the ages of 10 and 13 work on a piece of writing at the Kids Ink workshop at the Moose Jaw Public Library on July 17, 2014 as part of the Saskatchewan Festival of Words.

Published on July 17, 2014

Canadian poet John B. Lee works with a participant on his poetry at the session, Writing the Perfect Poem, on July 17, 2014 at the Moose Jaw Public Library as part of the Saskatchewan Festival of Words.

Published on July 17, 2014

Attendees work on their poetry during a sessin, Writing the Perfect Poem, at the Moose Jaw Public Library on July 17, 2014 as part of the Saskatchewan Festival of Words.

Published on July 17, 2014

Moose Jaw author and poet Robert Currie works on some poetry on July 17, 2014 at the Moose Jaw Public Library during the session, Writing the Perfect Poem, as part of the Saskatchewan Festival of Words.

Published on July 17, 2014

Graphic novelist Faith Erin Hicks sketches something in her notebook in her session, Comic Writing, at the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre on July 17, 2014 as part of the Saskatchewan Festival of Words.

Annual festival kicks off in Moose Jaw on Thursday

Each year, Donna Lee Howes loves showing new aspects of the Saskatchewan Festival of Words.

“My favourite part is showcasing or introducing something new and there’s always a little bit of excitement and anxiety when you introduce something new,” said the executive director of the 18th annual Saskatchewan Festival of Words. “Our audiences have grown to expect us to challenge them. They like things more or less the same but always expect us to throw them a curve.”

Thursday marked the first day of the four-day festival that runs until Sunday. The new part this year is on Sunday with a Saskatchewan-themed breakfast followed by two panels, all held at Mosaic Place.

“I think that’s why it’s almost sold out,” she said. “A few years ago it was the poetry slam and that’s gone over just fantastic and super successful and a few years before that it was the trivia night at Bobby’s.”

She added she enjoys getting people to know Moose Jaw.

“I think that Moose Jaw is the perfect location for a literary festival of this sort. Often people who are attending just come and park their cars on Thursday and don’t go back to their cars until Sunday because everything’s in walking distance,” said Howes. “It’s so different from other festivals.”

Pass sales have gone over really well and she believes more people are attending this year than last year’s event. A couple of years ago, organizers decided to have a feature to allow participants to design their own schedule online.

Flex passes, which are applicable to individual sessions, have also been selling well.

“I’d say individual ticket sales are up,” said Howes.

Some of the events have been sold out for a number of weeks such as Thursday afternoon's Great Big Book Club with Miriam Toews who discussed her book, All My Puny Sorrows. That has been sold out for three weeks.

Other events, such as Friday night's poetry slam, still have tickets available. There will be a total of 60 events taking place over the four days.

“I think this may be the year that Moose Jaw actually discovers what they have in the Saskatchewan Festival of Words and people from coast to coast find it charming and it’s their favourite summer event,” said Howes, adding there are 150 volunteers at the festival.

“We think that Moose Javians are finally hearing how highly esteemed that festival is and they’re choosing to participate.”

The festival is more than people chatting about books.

“That’s the mystique that we like to break down. We like people to understand how we have fun with it, that it’s an opportunity to be with like-minded people who are interested in what’s going on in the world and that many have stories to tell,” said Howes.

“The Festival of Words is a place where you can come and be inspired, investigate writing for yourself and receive instruction as well.”

To see the festival schedule, visit festivalofwords.com.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Great Big Book Club

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

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