HITTING THE ROAD: BRITISH COLUMBIA

grouse
From the top of Grouse Mountain, Vancouver. Photo by Nicole Brewer

After spending some time in Canada’s beautiful north, we’re driving south today to explore the literary offerings of beautiful British Columbia. BC is home to a wealth of poetry publishers, magazines, and reading series, and we will barely even be scratching the surface of the creative nooks of the province with this post. If you’re looking for ways to get involved with writing or poetry in your area, we suggest starting with your local library! Coffee shops and event-friendly pubs also often host regular literary events, so keep an eye out for posters for upcoming events. Writers in BC can also check out the Federation of BC Writers, whose membership is open to anybody who writes: published or unpublished.

Do you run a festival, reading series, press or magazine in BC? Let us know! Email admin@poets.ca with information, and we can look for ways to help you promote your work.

READING SERIES & FESTIVALS

The Dead Poets Reading Series brings together five presenters every other month, each one getting fifteen minutes to introduce one of their favourite dead poets and read a selection of that poet’s work. The series was started in 2007, and takes place from 3-5 PM on the second Sunday of every odd-numbered month (i.e. January, March, May, etc.), at the Vancouver Library’s Central Branch (Alice McKay Room), in downtown Vancouver.

The Planet Earth Poetry reading series is a launching pad for the energies of writers and poets established and not. It is a place where words are most important. A venue in which all manner of poets and writers are welcome; a place for excellence, innovation, collaboration, diverse projects and experiments. The evening begins at 7:30 with an open mic, followed by a featured reader(s). Planet Earth Poetry is located at Hillside Coffee and Tea, 1633 Hillside Ave (across from Bolen Books). Between 7 and 7:15, put your name in the hat to read at open mic.

On the last Tuesday of every month, WordStorm meets at The First Unitarian Fellowship Hall, 595 Township Road, Nanaimo, BC to hear new and published writers read their work, and talk about it briefly.  Each event begins with an Open Mic, followed by several featured readers.  Come down anytime to hear some great writing, and listen to featured Nanaimo musicians.

Simon Fraser University hosts monthly readings in Vancouver and Surrey each month, featuring current members and alumni of The Writer’s Studio, The Southbank Writer’s Program, local emerging writers and authors, and authors on book tours.

The Victoria Poetry Project exists to promote spoken word poetry in all its forms in the city of Victoria, BC.  They run poetry open mics, showcases, poetry slams and workshops in the Capital Region, including Vic Slam, Victoria’s only local poetry slam, and tof, the project’s flagship feature series.

Inspired Word Cafe in Kelowna hosts one open mic show per month, with a regular season running from September-May. The shows are an eclectic variety of poetry, music, beatbox, dance, storytelling and more, with a featured artist at every show, followed by an interview with host Erin Scott, and an open mic segment. Shows take place on the first Thursday of every month, at Kelowna Heritage Museum. Doors at 5:30pm, show at 6pm, so check out the current exhibit at the museum before settling down for a night of laughter and light. Admission is $5 at the door. If you would like to perform, contact the organizers ahead of time through their website or Facebook page.

Nelson
Nelson, BC. Photo by Nicole Brewer

The Nelson Poetry Slam is responsible for rallying performance poets & wordsmiths from the Kootenays and beyond to perform in contest for the favour of the ever-changing, often-wise, deeply-discerning throng of word-thirsty lexivores we like to call: the audience. The Nelson Poetry Slam is a community, a celebration, and a competition that gathers the second Sunday of each month at 7pm at John Ward Fine Coffee (corner of Ward and Baker).

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival happens annually in Nelson in July to augment Nelson and area writers’ and readers’ access to Canadian authors and publishers, and to showcase area writers to local audiences.

Galiano Island Books hosts the annual Galiano Island Literary Festival in February–for a few reasons, not the least of which being that we wanted to attract visitors to the island in an otherwise quiet time – to help provide businesses with a little off-season boost and to help establish Galiano Island as a “year round” rather than “seasonal” destination.  The weather has always cooperated and visitors and authors have raved about the island and many have come back to visit.

 

The North Shore Writers Festival is an annual celebration of Canadian authors brought to you by your North Shore public libraries – North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District and West Vancouver Memorial – as well as by the North Shore News.

Words on the Water is a festival where contemporary writers and readers meet in a beautiful west coast setting. Friday evening offers a stimulating mediated panel discussion and a brief glimpse at all of our writers. On Saturday you can attend individual annotated readings with each guest author. Sessions are 45 minutes and writers often allow time for questions. The Literary Cabaret on Saturday provides all the components necessary for an entertaining and stimulating evening: readings, music, and good food. Socializing with the writers and other like-minded readers is a key rewarding element of the festival. All weekend books by our featured writers will be on display and available for purchase. The venue, Campbell River’s Maritime Heritage Centre, provides a perfect nautical backdrop for this event.

Victoria, BC. Photo by Nicole Brewer
Victoria, BC. Photo by Nicole Brewer

The Denman Island Readers & Writers Festival takes place in July each year. Expect top quality writing and information on hard-hitting topics of historical importance, political activism and contemporary urgency.  Diverse voices, genres and perspectives will mix and mingle to entertain, inspire as well as challenge us all.

The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts takes place annually in August in Sechelt.

The Vancouver Writers Fest turns reading into a community experience, bringing people together to share thoughts, explore ideas, and witness brilliant conversations. All of the Festival venues are located on Granville Island. Set in the heart of Vancouver, Granville Island is Vancouver’s cultural hub. During the day, a visitor to the Island can explore arts and crafts galleries, watch artisans at work, shop for fresh food and delicacies at the public market, enjoy a specialty coffee or tea and absorb the Island atmosphere. Int the evening visitors can sample a variety of excellent restaurants and bars, spend the night at the Granville Island Hotel and start all over again in the morning.

 

WRITING OPPORTUNITIES

BC is home to several amazing book publishers–too many to go into, here! Check out the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia for a list of their members, including Anvil PressArsenal Pulp PressCaitlin PressGreystone Books Ltd.Harbour PublishingNow Or Never PublishingOolichan Books, and Talonbooks among many others!

There are also tons of literary magazines currently running out of BC! Some of the province’s more notable magazines include Room Magazine, EVENT, Geist, The Malahat Review, The Capilano Review, Plenitude, Poetry is Dead, subTerrain, Ricepaper Magazine, PRISMThe Maynard, and Cede Poetry. The National Magazine Awards’ website is a great resource for literary magazines large and small being published across Canada!