One of the island’s most well-known literary festivals is returning this weekend for a third-consecutive year.
The Write on Bowen Festival takes place this Saturday and Sunday, featuring eight workshops from different authors and writers plus a pair of keynote speakers. The sessions cover a wide range of topics, from travel writing to poetry, writing for children to screenwriting, and even how to conquer the dreaded writers’ block.
While it’s the third year in a row of the festival, it is actually the seventh year of Write on Bowen overall. The event is sponsored by the Bowen Island Public Library and Hearth Gallery, and led by festival artistic director Carol Cram and festival manager Jacqueline Massey. Cram spoke about a theme which has emerged at this year’s gathering.
“Not only are the people presenting from off-island, but most of the attendees are too. Which is kind of fun because most of them have not been to Bowen,” says Cram. Seven of the eight presenters this year are from the mainland, with the exception of Bowen resident Michael Nankin who is hosting a workshop on scene construction in screenwriting.
Cram says it’s a shift from the inaugural year of the festival’s resurgence which featured mostly island participants. “In 2021 it was during the pandemic and we had it in a garden, so it was outside and all local people,” she said. Last year featured more visitors, and based on the guest lists this year there are many people eager to make the trip to Bowen Island for the occasion.
Saturday features a pair of talks from guest speakers, starting with UBC professor Vered Shwartz who will discuss the future of artificial intelligence in the writing process. The evening festival gala features author Wade Davis as he talks about his book River Notes, focusing on the topic of how the Colorado River has been impacted by climate change.
While some workshops have filled up, others are still available and can be registered for up through the morning of the day they take place. Cram says a writing tool and paper is all anyone needs to bring, along with a passion for the topic they’re exploring.
“The vision right from the very start in 2008 is that people come to ‘write on Bowen’. So every workshop has an interactive component – so people write. Facilitators are encouraged to give them lots of exercises and opportunities to collaborate and to write… that was always the genesis of it,” says Cram.
“It’s not the kind of festival where people just come and listen to people read… they come to listen and write. The idea is to improve their craft and learn new techniques, but also to practice them,” she adds.
Full details about each of the eight workshops and two guest speakers, along with information on how to register for sessions, can be found on the Write on Bowen Festival website at www.writeonbowen.com