The best of Wordfest
Festival brings literary talent to Calgary
By Riley Nerbas, Staff Writer, & Cameron Mitchell, Contributor
Wordfest 2016 was held in Calgary from Oct. 7 to Oct. 16. Taking place in a various assortment of venues across the city, many events at the festival of literary talent follow the simple format with a stage of four or less authors who share readings from their novels with the audience. After the initial readings, the authors are asked a couple questions from an interviewer before it is the audience’s turn to ask. The events are held in small auditoriums, spreading an intimate feel to the audience members and the authors.
Authors give insight into war torn areas
The event Modern Conflict From The Inside Out was held at the Glenbow Museum and featured authors who have travelled and reported extensively from conflict zones around the globe. Authors at the event included Deni Ellis Béchard, Deborah Campbell, Kevin Patterson and Russell Hillier. The Brenda Strathern Late Bloomers Award, which is a literary award offered in Calgary for unpublished writers over forty years of age, was also introduced.
The first author to read and field questions from the interviewer was Russell Hillier, who wrote a book about his brother joining forces with the Kurdish army to fight ISIS. Next, Deborah Campbell read from her novel about her fixer (a local person who helps the reporter investigate their story) who was stationed with her in Syria in 2007 reporting on Iraqi refugees. She was in stride working within what seemed a natural environment for her. The two authors who followed were Deni Ellis Béchard and Kevin Patterson. Béchard’s novel, “Into The Sun,” examines expats in Kabul who are trying to reinvent themselves in a war torn country. His sense of humour was a breath of fresh air and made for a new take on conflict zone reporting. Kevin Patterson took the stage after him and had a tough time following the charismatic Béchard.
Dr. David Goldbloom brings humanity to mental health treatment
Every year, one in five Canadians will require psychiatric care. For people under the age of twenty-five, suicide is the leading cause of death behind only car accidents. Facts like these made Dr. David Goldbloom’s presentation at this year’s Wordfest incredibly poignant. In support of his new book How Can I Help?, Dr. Goldbloom engaged the audience in a candid conversation about a subject that far too many people, both inside and outside of the medical community, have very little understanding of.
One of the presentation’s most effective aspects was Goldbloom’s ability to convey his own expertise without condescending to his audience. Consistently engaging those present, he used his audience’s own experiences with mental health to highlight his arguments and apply real world examples to abstract concepts.
As a speaker, this was Goldbloom’s greatest strength. He made the issue, and its solutions, real. One way he linked those suffering from mental conditions and those who are not was illustrating a sense of comradery with the phrase, “they are us.” By highlighting the often distant nature of mental health treatment, he was able to dissuade the notion of a detached therapist. There, before us, Dr. Goldbloom embodied the capable and intelligent medical professional who truly cares about those he treats. Using personal anecdotes and striking observations, Goldbloom worked to bridge the gap between doctor and patient.