10 Diverse Events at the 2022 Vancouver Writers Fest to Provoke Conversation and Inspiration

2021 Word for Adults; Photo Credit: Ariel Hudnall

For over 30 years, the Vancouver Writers Fest has been a vibrant part of the city’s cultural landscape, connecting readers year-round with authors, both local and international. Every October, they host a Festival that welcomes over 22,000 people to Vancouver for diverse and engaging programming. This year’s Festival takes place October 17 to 23.

Vancouver’s picturesque Granville Island is again the site for the Vancouver Writers Fest. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, they’re back to being almost fully in-person, with live streaming options for some events. With 80 events, there’s something for every type of reader, from those with a passion for poetry to teenagers looking to learn more about reconciliation.

2021 Vancouver Writers Fest; Photo: Ariel Hudnall

Here are 10 events to get you reading, listening, and talking about writers, their works, and their ideas this autumn:

2021 Danny Ramadan Night of Storytelling; Photo Credit: Joyce Wan

Writing Indigeneity

Brandi Morin

Shelagh Rogers, famed host of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter hosts this conversation with French/Cree/Iroquois journalist Brandi Morin, Anishinaabe and Portuguese writer Cody Caetano, and archaeologist and professor Eldon Yellowhorn of the Piikani Nation. “Writing Indigeneity” (October 21, 1pm, Waterfront Theatre, $25) will talk about the power of oral and written Indigenous storytelling to convey both personal and collective experiences. How are Indigenous writers transforming knowledge; understandings of past, present, and future; as well as shaping expressions of reconciliation? This event promises to be extremely informative and hopeful.

Generational Fiction: Stories of Lineage, History and Things Passed Down

Omar El Akkad; Photo Credit: Kateshia Pendergrass

In order to create more diverse content, the Festival features a different Guest Curator every year. For 2022, they’re fortunate to have Omar El Akkad, journalist and 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner for his novel What Strange Paradise, as Guest Curator. He’s curated 6 different events, including “What Home Means,” “Memory of Self,” and “Writing Across Cultures.” “Generational Fiction: Stories of Lineage, History and Things Passed Down” (October 21, 10am, Waterfront Theatre, $25) looks like it will be particularly illuminating as Jasmine Sealy, Marsha Lederman, Tsering Yangzom Lama, and Aamina Ahmad talk about intergenerational narratives and the remembering and cultural transmission that occurs within families.

Don’t You Want Me, Baby?: Authors Do 80s Lyrics

Elamin Abdelmahmoud

“Don’t You Want Me, Baby?: Authors Do 80s Lyrics” (October 20, 8:30pm, Performance Works, $25) promises to be just plain fun, CBC podcast host Elamin Abdelmahmoud will preside over a poetry bash that will see authors perform lines from their favourite 80s songs in poem-form. The long list of participants includes Heather O’Neill, David A. Roberston, and Kern Carter.

Master Storytellers (Grades 4-7)

Xiran Jay Zhao

The Festival has a host of programming devoted to children and teens that will get them motivated to read—and writing their own stories. “Master Storytellers” (October 19, 1pm, Performance Works and Virtual, $10) features three unique writers who specialize in Middle Grade fiction: Kim Spencer, Kevin Sylvester, and Xiran Jay Zhao. The writers will talk about how their stories show how empowered kids can be, as well as how they have honed their storytelling craft.

The State of Women

Eliza Reid; Photo credit: Kristín-Bogadóttir

“The State of Women” (October 22, 2pm, Revue Stage, $25) is an example of how the Festival tackles big questions through thoughtful dialogue. This event brings Elizabeth Renzetti, a former columnist and feature writer for The Globe and Mail, in conversation with Eliza Reid, author of Secrets of the Sprakkar and former First Lady of Iceland. They’ll talk about how Iceland has successfully worked at closing the gap between men and women and about how women dare to be extraordinary despite obstacles that work against them.

Queer Little Nightmares

Cicely Belle Blain

In collaboration with Arsenal Pulp Press, the Festival is hosting the launch of Queer Little Nightmares, an anthology of fiction and poetry that reimagines monsters through a queer lens. David Ly and Daniel Zomparelli will be the emcees, with appearances by LGBTQ+ writers such as Amber Dawn, jaye simpson, and Cicely Belle Blain. Drag artist Persephone will also be performing. Attendees are invited to dress up as a monster as well as expect lots of joy, games, and prizes. The event takes place October 21 at 8:30pm at the Revue Stage ($25, masks are required for this event).

The Literary Cabaret

Joshua Whitehead

As one of the Festival’s most beloved events, the Literary Cabaret is an endearing blend of award-winning words and music. Musical Director Sally Zori and their band Sally Zori and the Allegories will perform as accompaniment to authors Joshua Whitehead, Heather O’Neill, Nadifa Mohamed, Gabriel Krauze, Pierre Jaraman, and Graeme Macrae Burnet.

Word! (1) and (2) Grades 8-12 and adults

Photo: Jillian Christmas

Jillian Christmas, poet and spoken word artist, curates spoken word programing. Both Word! (1) and (2) feature energetic and empowering performers, including Charlie Petch (1), Tawahum Bige (2), and Lucia Misch (1 & 2). The in-person events are sold out, unfortunately, but tickets are still available for the livestreams (October 19, 1pm, $10; October 20, 10:15am, $10).

The Future is Now, with Bob McDonald

Bob McDonald; Photo Credit: Jennifer Hartley

The Festival takes on big pressing topics, including climate change. “The Future is Now, with Bob McDonald” (October 23, 11am, Waterfront Theatre), the engaging longtime CBC host of Quirks & Quarks, talks about everything climate change related, from how the pandemic has raised awareness about the possibilities and challenges of collective global action, as well as everyday strategies to reduce energy usage and pollution.

The Sunday Brunch

Alexander MacLeod; Photo Credit: Heather A. Crosby Gionet

Who doesn’t love brunch, especially when paired with delicious words? “The Sunday Brunch” (October 23, 11am, Performance Works, $55) will serve attendees a scrumptious Brunch Box that they can enjoy as they soak in readings from authors such as Aimee Wall, Alexander MacLeod, and Janice Lynn Mather.


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