2015 Kingston WritersFest Wish List

By Jocelyne Kilpatrick

This will be my third year as a volunteer for the Kingston WritersFest and I look forward to another fall writing “pick me up.” Imagine being surrounded by book-lovers and authors; getting great advice on editing, publishing, and developing narrative; and getting excited all over again about creating new worlds of stories.
Here is my Writing Workshop Wishlist:

#1: Armand Garnet Ruffo

Every year I find a writing workshop that seems specially attuned to what I am currently working on. This is the case with event # 25 Writing Creative Biography: Using Myth, Legend, and Tall Tale . Armand Garnet Ruffo takes creative liberties in writing Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird—a poetic biography about a troubled but talented Ojibway artist. Ruffo will offer insight on straying from the strict realism of biography or memoir to incorporating myth, legend, or tall tale into the “story” of a life.

Ruffo is currently an associate professor of English at Queen’s University, he teaches Aboriginal literature and creative writing.
Ruffo is currently an associate professor of English at Queen’s University, he teaches Aboriginal literature and creative writing.

#2: Daniel Wells

I especially enjoy workshops hosted by editors because they tell you—without mincing words—how it really is in the “writing world.” Bring ideas and be prepared to learn something new about what gets published and what doesn’t from Canadian editor and publisher Daniel Wells with event #51 New Writers’ Roundtable.

Wells is founder of the famed independent Canadian press, Biblioasis, which has developed a reputation as Canada’s premier short story press. He also collaborates with writer and editor Alex Good to solicit and edit, Canadian Notes and Queries. Photo: Kim Moir
Wells is founder of the famed independent Canadian press, Biblioasis, which has developed a reputation as Canada’s premier short story press. He also collaborates with writer and editor Alex Good to solicit and edit, Canadian Notes and Queries. Photo: Kim Moir

 

#3: Priscila Uppal

As I was flipping through the poetry section at E.J. Pratt library as an undergrad at U of T, Priscila Uppal’s book Ontological Necessities jumped out at me because of its blend of deep philosophical thought with simple interactive speech.
I was very happy to see that Uppal is offering two writers workshops here in Kingston, and I especially look forward to event #27 Writing Poetry for Grownups. This is a practical, hands-on workshop that requires bringing along your work in progress (old or new). I expect some great advice and inspiration from this talented and dynamic poet.

Photo Credit: Daniel Ehrenworth
Priscila Uppal is a professor at York University’s Department of English and the author of two novels, The Divine Economy of Salvation and To Whom It May Concern; ten collections of poetry; and a memoir, Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother, which was shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Prize and the Governor General’s Award. Photo Credit: Daniel Ehrenworth

#4: Joan Thomas

For the novelists out there (or Nanowrimo’s?), Joan Thomas’s event on pacing your novel will provide ample motivation to return to that old manuscript tucked behind your desk. Thomas, who was first acclaimed as a book reviewer for the Globe and Mail, has received extensive praise for her first novel, Reading by Lightning.
While she will be focusing primarily on pace at this workshop, Thomas is known for her depth of character development and for her seamless integration of history with fiction. There is much to learn here for the seasoned writer and first time novelist, and much to be revived in that story you left unfinished. Join her in event #44: Pacing Your Novel: Keep Readers Turning the Page.

Photo Credit: Bruce Thomas Barr
Joan Thomas is also author of Curiosity, which was named a Quill & Quire Book of the Year and was nominated for the ScotiaBank Giller Prize; and author of The Opening Sky, which won the McNally Robinson Prize for Book of the Year, became a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, and won “Best Book of 2014” on CBC Books, Vancouver Sun,Winnipeg Free Press, and Metronews lists. Photo Credit: Bruce Thomas Barr

 

Big Name Events

Writing workshops aside, the big names coming this year are:

Jamie Kennedy

Jamie Kennedy is an acclaimed Canadian cook and author of JK: The Jamie Kennedy Cookbook. He currently lives in Toronto, where he spends time cooking, writing, and helping charities such as Empty Bowls and Feast of Fields.
Photo: Jo Dickens

Jamie Kennedy is an acclaimed Canadian cook and author of JK: The Jamie Kennedy Cookbook. He currently lives in Toronto, where he spends time cooking, writing, and helping charities such as Empty Bowls and Feast of Fields.

Nino Ricci

Among many acclaims, Ricci’s novel Lives of the Saints has been published in seventeen countries and nominated for the Giller Prize. His fictional retelling of the life of Jesus won the Trillium Award and was a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year
Photo: Virginia de Vasconcelos

Among many acclaims, Nino Ricci’s novel Lives of the Saints has been published in seventeen countries and nominated for the Giller Prize. His fictional retelling of the life of Jesus won the Trillium Award and was a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year.

Diane Ackerman

Ackerman is an American Poet, essayist and naturalist who this year received the P.E.N. Henry David Thoreau Award for Nature Writing for The Human Age. In 2012, she was a finalist for both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics Circle Award for One Hundred Names for Love, a non-fiction account of her writer husband’s struggle with stroke and his ensuing aphasia.
Diane Ackerman is an American Poet, essayist and naturalist who this year received the P.E.N. Henry David Thoreau Award for Nature Writing for The Human Age. In 2012, she was a finalist for both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics Circle Award for One Hundred Names for Love, a non-fiction account of her writer husband’s struggle with stroke and his ensuing aphasia.

Roch Carrier

Renowned storyteller, Roch Carrier, is recent author of Montcalm & Wolfe: Two Men Who Forever Changed The Course Of Canadian History. The Québécois admits that the two men are rather similar and would have gotten along “after the battle.” Roch is a novelist, playwright and children’s author; former director of the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Librarian of Canada; a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; an Officer of the Order of Canada; and has won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. Photo: Sarah Scott
Photo: Sarah Scott

Renowned storyteller, Roch Carrier, is recent author of Montcalm & Wolfe: Two Men Who Forever Changed The Course Of Canadian History. The Québécois admits that the two men are rather similar and would have gotten along “after the battle.” Roch is a novelist, playwright and children’s author; former director of the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Librarian of Canada; a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; an Officer of the Order of Canada; and has won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

Other Events

I also suggest purchasing tickets to the International Marquee and to the Robertson Davies Lecture (with a promising-looking talk this year by Tomson Highway on aboriginal literature).
Even if you are unable to enter a “big” event, I can assure you that all the events have something to offer. Sometimes the smaller events allow you to get more time to chat with the author, or even to speak about your own work and get personal advice.
Last year, I attended a French event and have not yet forgotten the incredible story of horror, welcome, and survival by Vietnamese-Canadian Kim Thuy. I also ruminate from time to time over the workshop hosted by Martha Baillie, where she contrasted parts of her novel to tangible artifacts like a whale skeleton made out of plastic chairs. It is out of these encounters that I entered 2014 with imagination and energy for a whole new writing year.

Purchasing Tickets

If you would like to make your own wishlist of favourites, check out the Kingston Writers Fest website at www.kingstonwritersfest.ca. Tickets can be bought at the door, though I recommend buying tickets for big name shows as early as possible. All tickets have been on sale since June 25.

The 2014 International Marquee with Wally Lamb recounting some humorous book signing memories.
The 2014 International Marquee with Wally Lamb recounting some humorous book signing memories.

The packed June 25th event that marked the start of 2015 ticket sales.
The packed June 25th event that marked the start of 2015 ticket sales. Photo: George Forsyth