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Word Vancouver Reading & Writing Festival 2023

September 16, 2023
at UBC Robson Square (map)

Full Event Schedule

About the Event

UBC Robson Square is hosting the Word Vancouver’s reading and writing festival this year! Join us for our main day festival on September 16th, and check out our other programming online, off-site, and at the Surrey Central Library; there’s so much to discover!

Word Vancouver strives to foster the joy of the written word and inspire creativity by bringing together readers and writers from all backgrounds in an annual, inclusive and free literary arts festival, connecting local communities and celebrating literary arts through the collective experience. We aspire to embrace innovation, encourage discourse and provide a safe and accessible experience for all members of our richly diverse communities. Visit the Word Vancouver website for a full list of programming.

Sessions Featuring UBC 

Queer Memory
September 16, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
This session will feature readings from various queer writers, including UBC’s Michael V. Smith, who is a professor at the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at the Okanagan campus. In addition to his position as a professor, Michael is also an interdisciplinary artist, working as a writer, filmmaker, and performance artist. As a performer, Smith focuses on small stage work, usually mixing any combination of drag, improv, stand-up comedy, and audience-participation work. During this session, Michael will be reading from his recent title: Queers Like Me.

Poetic Responses to the Archive
September 16, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections will be facilitate a program in a session featuring two poets whose work responds to archival materials in its holdings from the Jim Wong-Chu fonds and the Chinese Canadian Research Collection and Joan Gillis Fonds. Rina Garcia Chua will perform three poems from her upcoming poetry chapbook, “A Geography of (Un)Natural Hazards.” Carolyn Nakagawa will share a poem sequence inspired by letters from Joan Gillis Fonds, written by teenaged Japanese Canadians to their former classmate Joan after their forced uprooting from the British Columbia coast in 1942.

Moving Words in the City: Poetry + Video in Synergy
September 16, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Celebrate the synergy of poetry and film with a screening of imaginative and evocative poetry videos by the finalists of the Vancouver Poet Laureate’s City Poems Contest! In an innovative collaboration between local poets and student media artists, poems were adapted to film by student teams from Simon Fraser University’s IAT 344 (Moving Images), Emily Carr University of Art & Design’s 2DN 211 (2D Animation) & Foundation 160 (Core Media Studio), and UBC’s FNIS 454 (Indigenous New Media, Critical Indigenous Studies), plus an independent UBC student team and two youth finalists from local high schools. They created a compelling array of videos based on a list of selected poems about Vancouver’s historical, cultural, and ecological sites. This session will be moderated by Fiona Tinwei Lam, who is Vancouver’s Poet Laureate for 2022-2024, and an alumna of UBC’s MFA in Creative Writing.

For the Love of Poetry: Jen Currin and Sheryda Warrener in Conversation
September 16, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Join poets Sheryda Warrener and Jen Currin as they read their own work and the work of some of their favorite poets, using this work to discuss poetry as a living practice of reading, noticing, and writing. Sheryda Warrener is a lecturer in poetry and interdisciplinary forms in the School of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. She is also the author of three books of poetry, most recently Test Piece (Coach House, 2022). Her work can be found in Event, The Fiddlehead, Grain, Hazlitt, and The Believer, among other literary journals, and has been selected for the anthologies Best Canadian Poetry, and The Next Wave: An Anthology of 21st Century Canadian Poetry.

Language in Times of Oppression and Great Change
September 16, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Oppression can take the form of erasure. Turbulent times can leave their mark on the languages of those who live them. Ayaka Yoshimizu, Assistant Professor of Teaching at UBC’s Department of Asian Studies, will discuss the work of Tamura Toshiko, a feminist writer from Tokyo known primarily for her work produced in Japan. Her talk will focus on Tamura’s less-studied writings published in the late 1910s Vancouver for working-class women in the local Japanese Canadian community. Saeyong Kim, who currently works as the Korean Studies Librarian at UBC’s Asian Library, will touch on poets whose works are collected in the Asian Library and discuss how not only the evaluation of one’s literary merit but also the availability of one’s works can fluctuate with the changes in political climate or public opinion.

No Bullshitting
September 16, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Playwright Yolanda Bonnell, graphic fiction author Sami Alwani, and poet Carellin Brooks read from their acclaimed books, each of which takes “directness of expression” to new levels. Carellin is a lecturer in academic writing and communications at the University of British Columbia. She has written five books in different genres and edited two collections. During this session, Carellin will be reading from Learned, Brooks’ first book of poetry. It chronicles the first-person narrator’s time at Oxford University and in the underground lesbian sadomasochistic scene in London. Vancouver-born, Brooks has lived in Salt Lake City, Ottawa, Montréal, Oxford, London, San Diego, and Japan.

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