A First-Timer’s Guide to the Vancouver Writers Festival

Five events ideal for the Writers-Fest-curious.

If you’ve never attended the Vancouver Writers Festival, it might seem overwhelming: the fest (celebrating its 30th anniversary this year) features over 95 events and 110 authors from all over the world, with dozens of readings, special interviews and panel discussions happening each day October 16 through 22. Where do the uninitiated begin? We asked Megan Jones from ZG Communications (the marketing firm handling festival publicity) to share her top picks for VWF newcomers.

Thrillers Three Ways

When: Wednesday, October 18, 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.Where: Performance Works, Granville IslandMegan says: “For people who love their popular fiction, crime novels, and thrillers, this event is a must-see during the Festival. Three acclaimed crime and thriller writers (Hart Hanson, Ausma Zehanat Khan, and Ruth Ware) make the back of your neck tingle—in the best possible way.” Leanne Dunic. (Photo: Ronnie Lee Hill.)

Dance To The Coming End

When: Thursday, October 19, 8:30 p.m. to 12 a.m.Where: Performance Works, Granville IslandMegan says: “This is the spot to be if you love art, music, and literature—all rolled into one. Featuring triple-threat musician, artist, and author, Leanne Dunic—who will read from her book and perform with her band, Deep Cove, during this event—you’ll dance ’til you drop and gain a whole new perspective on art before the night is done.” Witi Ihimaera.

Life Drawing

When: Friday, October 20 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.Where: Granville Island Stage, 1585 Johnson Street, Granville IslandMegan says: “Life Drawing takes place each year at the Festival, always with different authors, and always incredibly moving and powerful. This year, Witi Ihimaera explores his Maori upbringing in New Zealand. Eileen Myles—arguably America’s greatest living poet—investigates spirituality, alcoholism and grief in her memoir of her beloved pitbull, Rosie. And Sayed Kashua reflects on straddling two societies—Israeli and Palestinian.” Eileen Myles (Photo: Peggy O’Brien.)

Who I Am

When: Saturday, October 21, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.Where: Performance Works, Granville IslandMegan says: “This incredible, highly anticipated evening shares the voices of Indigenous authors from across the world. Hear from four writers (including remarkable Griffin Prize winner Jordan Abel) whose personal identity is inextricably bound up in their work.”

The Poetry Bash

When: Saturday, October 21, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.Where: Performance Works, Granville IslaneMegan says: “Curated by Canada’s beloved, award-winning, and inimitable poet, Lorna Crozier, this fun and upbeat evening is always a wonderful (and gentle) introduction to the world of poetry—and to the Festival itself. Featuring an all-star lineup of acclaimed poets, some from as far away as New Zealand (Hera Lindsay Bird) and New York (Matthew Dickman) and others from our own backyard (Jan Zwicky).” Hera Lindsay Bird