Mission Festival, Fraser Valley Literatures, East Coast Vs. West Coast, and True Lies


Your friend neighbourhood writer-in-residence Emily PW’s finally back at this whole blog thing.

I’ve had some of the busiest few weeks of my life…

UFV’s inaugural Literatures of the Fraser Valley Conference was an infusion of brilliant scholarly thought. Speakers represented many of the region’s diverse communities—a testament to the organizers, who really gave this important consideration. I laughed, cried, and raged… And, most of all, I was left feeling like I wanted to sit down for coffee with all the people who presented, so I could ask more about their areas of interest.

The Mission Writers and Readers Festival was a genuinely lovely experience. The sun was shining, attendees were eager to learn, and I got to hear Evelyn Lau read. My spirits were buoyed by the hard work of so many volunteers who make this day-long happen. Kudos to them! The tribute to the life of slam poet Zaccheus Jackson was very moving for everyone in the room. After, I did a short keynote speech and reading, then led a fast-paced primer on how to make it to the finish line of a book.

English blog Emily east west

Last week, I led a lunch hour workshop at UFV Abbotsford on True Lies: The Fine Line Between Fiction and Reality. Me and half a dozen participants talked about sticky scenarios where your made up worlds overlap with real things and people. What are the ethics about “using” your own experiences, especially when they involve others? Although we may not have come up with any hard rules, we did leave there with heads filled with thoughts.

This Monday was the East Coast Vs. West Coast Literary Showdown at UFV. Vancouver authors Doretta Lau and Aaron Peck, and Ontario-based writer Janetta Platana made the trek out to participate. We read from our own work and tried our best to stump the other coast’s team with short passages of iconic writing from the regions where It ended up as a tie, but only because Janette (ahem) ate one of the crackers we were using to keep score. I’m also happy to let you know we started the day with a drive around the Valley, lunch at the fantastic Blackberry Café, and a walk in the sunshine. I think they all probably love the area as much as I do at this point.

Also visited prof Michelle LaFlamme’s faboo BC Literatures Class and had the amazing experience of being critiqued, live, by a class filled 20 or so sharp minds. So interesting to find out how they read four of my poems for metaphor and imagery. I learned a few things about my own work!

Oh, and I met one-on-one with about eight young writers who are wading through their various projects. PHEW.

Now do you understand why it took me a while to get this blog post out?

Can’t believe there’s only three weeks left in the semester. Will be sad to see this residency end, guys!

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