Something to write home about
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but isn’t it nicer to have writers create pictures for you?
WordFest is back in town for a six-day run Oct. 13-18, and director Anne Green is excited about this year’s celebration of the power of language.
“This is going to be a totally fabulous fest,” says Green. “We have around 70 writers this year, ranging from first-time novelists to superstars, so there’s a lot to take in. We’re all really pumped about everyone who’s coming and what they have to offer.”
Among the highlights this year is the rare chance to see Douglas Coupland, who penned the cultural milestone Generation X. The somewhat-elusive author, screenwriter, sculptor and actor brings a new edition to his generational saga titled Generation A, and has been named the Banff Distinguished Author for WordFest 2009.
“There’s really nothing like seeing (Coupland) in person,” Green enthuses. “He doesn’t do events very often, so if you’re a fan, it’ll be worth the trip (to Banff). He’s extremely intelligent and funny, and his reading is sure to be a hit.”
Like any festival, WordFest knows it has to be accessible for people who don’t have that much disposable income. Many events are free, yet tickets for some individual shows run from six dollars to $25. While the latter price may seem a tad steep, several perks are available for those who feel tied down by their wallets.
“With any ticket over $10, students can get a 50 per cent discount,” says Green, which should come as good news for anyone feeling the monetary strain here in university. WordFest’s website advertises more deals, including 15 per cent off groups of 10 or more, and two-for-one admission to any screening at the Plaza Theatre from Oct. 13-31 with your WordFest ticket. Green knows, however, that those who really want to attend any of the multitude of events will make it work.
“We have many events for people who want to be writers in the future,” she says, “so it would be a shame for those people to miss some of the things we have going on.” These include lectures from writers, talks with industry insiders, a graphic novel workshop at the Art Gallery of Calgary, and programs geared towards junior high and high school students. Even Green is finding it difficult to figure out how to catch everything.
“All of these events, I’m saying to myself, ‘I really have to see that,’” she laughs. “We’re really organized this year, though, so I may have a chance to see more than I usually get to, which would be great because I don’t want to leave anything out!”
Green has been involved with WordFest for over a decade, yet she feels the festival has really stepped it up this year.
“We haven’t had this many community-based events before,” she says, “which we’re really proud of.” She talks about one particularly unique event called Giant Poem Extravaganza, in which poet Miguel Angel Arenas will write the first words of a poem and then let it grow through contributions from the public who happen to come or simply pass by.
WordFest represents a true celebration of the written word that Calgarians of all ages should experience at least once in their lives, but the festival holds a special draw for those who have aspirations for writing their own stories for the world to read. What should these young writers do to get invited to a future WordFest? Green provides a pretty definitive answer:
“I’ll say the same thing that Margaret Atwood has said to all of us: just keep writing.” As long as that continues to happen, it’s safe to say that WordFest should have no worries of disappearing from the Calgary festival scene.