Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts celebrates 35 years

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On Thursday, August 17, the annual renowned Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts will begin its 35th year. Founder Betty Keller was recently announced as the recipient of the 2017 Gray Campbell Distinguished Service Award in part for her work establishing the festival. Even after 35 years (and Betty’s retirement), the festival stays true to its original mandate: to present and promote Canadian writers exclusively.Gently to Nagasaki by Joy Kogawa

Here are some highlights from the 2017 festival lineup:

On Friday afternoon, Joy Kogawa will join Kathryn Gretsinger in conversation with a sold-out audience about her memoir, Gently to Nagasaki (Caitlin Press), which documents her personal experience of the Japanese internment camps.  

On Island by Pat CarneyA Year On Protection Island by Amber McMillanSaturday morning, Pat Carney and Amber McMillan will speak with Kathryn Gretsinger, to another sold-out crowd. Pat Carney, a longtime Saturna resident, wrote On Island: Life Among the Coast Dwellers (TouchWood Editions), which has been on the BC Bestseller list for 20 weeks. Amber McMillan’s The Woods: A Year on Protection Island (Nightwood Editions) is an entertaining, eye-opening reality check on the myth of the laid-back island idyll.

Price Paid by Bev SellarsAfter lunch on Saturday, join bestselling author Bev Sellars for a discussion on her experiences and the history of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School (Talonbooks) spent a staggering 40 weeks on the BC Bestseller list. Her second book, Price Paid (Talonbooks), is an eye-opening history of Canada’s Aboriginal people that differs dramatically from that found in conventional history books.

Saturday afternoon at the festival typically includes an annual poetry event. This year, The Meter’s Running V features three of the five finalists for the 2016 Governor General’s Award for English Language Poetry: Joseph Denham, Steven Heighton, and Rachel Rose.

Landfall by Joe DenhamJoe Denham is the author of four collections of poetry, including Regeneration Machine (Nightwood Editions), which won the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the 2016 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. His forthcoming book, Landfall (Nightwood Editions), comes out October 2017.

Sustenance, edited by Rachel RoseRachel Rose is currently the Poet Laureate of Vancouver. She has written poetry, fiction, and nonfiction—Marry & Burn (Harbour Publishing) was a Governor General’s Award finalist. Her forthcoming edited collection, Sustenance: Writers from BC and Beyond on the Subject of Food (Anvil Press) brings together local literary and culinary musings.

Not to be missed on Sunday afternoon, Mark Leiren-Young is an author, journalist, humourist, scriptwriter, filmmaker, playwright, and environmentalist. His latest book, The Killer Whale Who Changed the World (Greystone), is the timely story of Moby Doll, the first publicly exhibited captive killer whale, and was nominated for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize.

The 2017 Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts takes place in Sechelt, BC, from August 17-20. A full schedule of events and attendance information can be found at

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