Vancouver to San Miguel: jump on the literary festival circuit (or line)

Having just finished volunteering for the 30th Vancouver Writers Festival, held on Granville Island, my mind reels with the many-faceted ways one can express stories. This year was particularly exciting with more First Nations authors, including multiple award winning Eden Robinson and Buffy Sainte-Marie, a transgender woman Vivek Shraya, and a brigade of international and Canadian authors.

New this year, the festival experimented with a free day on Saturday, hoping to reach a wider audience.  With 83 events over six days, one of the highlights for me, was the Sunday brunch where as well as being fed, one gets a glass of orange juice and champagne and hears six accomplished authors read from their work.

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I have also been lucky enough to attend or volunteer at the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference and Literary Festival in Mexico, now in its 14th year.  This event is a bi-lingual one, so one gets to hear from Mexican, American and Canadian authors. A rather different format brings in publishers, agents and editors and the five-day conference has many workshops scattered through the day.  Over the years many diverse Canadian authors such as Margaret Atwood, Lawrence Hill and Naomi Klein have given keynote talks. The conference is held in the Real de Minas Hotel, which has a beautiful garden to relax in between events.

Over the years there have been a number of Bowen Islanders who have attended San Miguel’s event. There is an evening Gala with all things Mexican and an ample supply of tequila. Both of these literary events have their own flavor and there is a definite feeling that books are not going away in a hurry, despite fewer publishers. These literary events are guaranteed to educate, entertain and maybe even transform. And everyone leaves with a list of books that will keep them reading for a long , long time.

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