Saturday, November 6, 2010

Word Fest Experience by Daniel Klein

Daniel Klein, president of NOWW (Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop) dropped us this e note:

Daniel Klein at Word Fest
It doesn't take a whole lot for me to want to drive to Kenora. With family up there, and with it being as picturesque as it is, making the six hour drive after work on a Friday afternoon is worth it. Since it was near the start of the American hunter invasion, all the deer were chewing on shrubs in town; I saw nothing on the highway.

The festival was a great chance to meet some of NOWW's regional members, as well as spread the word. With the connection to Winnipeg being so close, it was good to see both Turnstone, the Manitoba Magazine Association, as well as a printer at the festival.

Turnout was good for a first time out. The Minis Hall was ringed with booksellers, authors, regional arts organisations such as the Lake of the Woods Arts Collective and the Manitoba Writers' Guild, the Kenora Museum, and others. Elizabeth Campbell, our past Memoir winner, was there, and talked about the genesis for her story, as well as read from it. Dorothea Belanger, also a NOWW member, was promoting her collective project: Common Ground: Stories of Lake of the Woods; it's a handsome volume.

The format differs from that of the Sleeping Giant Writers Festival in that it is more of a combination of short talks and panels on various topics, and with lots of vendor space. The model is more along the lines of a fan convention, and less around the more course-intensive feel of the SGWF. Which isn't to say that one is better than another -- merely that the feel is different and provides for different kinds of interaction. Quite frankly, I believe that as the Kenora WordFest continues to grow legs, it will provide an excellent complimentary experience.

There was a focus on self-publishing and making it as a writer -- that is, the business side of the craft as well -- along with a panel discussion on the merits of self-publishing versus a traditional publisher, with some interesting points on both sides.

I congratulate Rick Brignall and the team of organisers and volunteers on putting together a fascinating event that shows clearly (as if we needed more proof!) on how vibrant a literary community there really is in Northwestern Ontario.

I'll certainly be back.



Occasional Travelling NOWW Representative

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