Copyright © 1997. All Rights Reserved.
Today is the first chance to book tickets and passes for the 1997 Pan- Canadian WordFest. What has become Canada's third-largest literary festival (that sure happened fast) was launched last Wednesday at Memorial Park Library. After last year's striking success, you can bet that organizers felt a few sophomore jitters. Would the second edition fulfill the suddenly very high expectations generated by last year's WordFest? With some relief, the event's effervescent producer Anne Green confirmed that this year's lineup of authors and events should satisfy anyone. But you can judge for yourself; check your local bookstore for the official schedule of events.
Several of last year's WordFest readings had people lined up outside the doors, so give serious thought to getting advance tickets early, especially if you want to attend some of the big-draw readings. And which might those be? The October 15 W.O. Mitchell Tribute (hosted by Peter Gzowski, with several Canadian authors and musician James Keelaghan), or the readings by Roddy Doyle, Mavis Gallant, Jane Urquhart, James Houston, Nino Ricci or Austin Clarke could all be popular enough to pack the WordFest's larger venues, the Max Bell Theatre (for Mitchell), the Uptown Stage, and Banff's Margaret Greenham Theatre.
There are also many other promising events. Consider the (licensed) October 16 Poetry Bash, for instance, including Erin Mouré, Claire Harris, Patrick Friesen and others, all hosted by Sheri-D Wilson. Or readings by Booker nominee Shena McKay, Cordelia Strube, Michael Turner, Carmen Rodriguez, Shani Mootoo, and others too numerous to mention here. Viacom has sponsored a New Voices Series for promising younger writers. To help sort it all out, watch for reviews and profiles of WordFest authors in future editions of Fast Forward.
The official schedule has details on ticket prices, which remain in the first-run movie range for the most part. A separate $30 pass covers all events held at the Banff Centre - if your weekday evenings are spoken for, consider spending the Saturday in Banff, where you can see many of the most prominent authors (Doyle, Gallant, Clarke, Ricci, Nancy Huston and others) in two events. (With natural splendor thrown in for a small park entry fee.)
A few volunteer opportunities remain, so if you'd like to be involved call 294-7462. Also, educators wanting details on school-related programs (there are several) should call the same number. Just don't expect former teacher Roddy Doyle to get all nostalgic about his own classroom days. When asked at a Toronto reading last year whether he ever missed teaching, Doyle paused about 0.6 seconds before cheerfully answering, "No."
(This may be the all-WordFest Bookends, but see next week's edition for yet more news of internationally-renowned writers coming to Calgary this fall - Mordecai Richler, P.D. James and others.)
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