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Elephant Mountain Literary Festival celebrates 10 years

Carla Funk reads from her work and teaches poetry at EMLF 2021. — Submitted

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival (EMLF), based in Nelson, BC, celebrates 10 years this summer with a mix of home-grown and national authors and presenters, more special events, and increased opportunities for writers to hone their craft. EMLF runs online July 7 – 11.

“It’s a fitting celebration to mark ten years of bringing exceptional Canadian literary talent to Nelson,” says Executive Director Robyn Lamb. “The list of past presenters is a literary who’s who, and this year is no exception.”

Although the pandemic has presented organizers with challenges, this year’s 100% online offerings means wide accessibility: all special events and panel discussions are by donation, while workshops remain small group sessions online, with reasonable fees—all the while keeping our community safe.

The Festival begins on Wednesday, July 7 at 7 p.m. with a keynote address on the 2021 theme of “Writing in a Dangerous Time” delivered by Cheryl Foggo, known for her award-winning fiction, non-fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting, as well as for her work uncovering the stories of Alberta’s early Black pioneers.

Celebrated Dene writer Richard Van Camp offers a craft talk on writing for kids and teens on Thursday, July 8 at  5 p.m.

Celebrating Local at 7pm on Thursday brings the return on EMLF’s popular evening of readings and wine pairings with some of our region’s finest storytellers. Pat Henman, Shayna Jones, Rayya Liebich, and Zaynab Mohammedtake the virtual stage, emceed by Anna Purcell. This is a BYOB event, with this year’s wines to be revealed in time for attendees to sip along.

The EMLF Alumni reading on Friday, July 9 at 7 p.m. brings together three of the writers who appeared at the very first festival: Newfoundland novelist Lisa Moore, The Golden Spruce and The Tiger author John Vaillant, and multi-award-winning poet Fred Wah. Following their readings all three will be interviewed by Globe and Mail Western Arts Correspondent Marsha Lederman.

The All-Star Reading on Saturday, July 10 at 7 p.m., emceed by CBC Radio’s North by Northwest host Sheryl McKay, brings together this year’s literary luminaries: poet, nonfiction author, and adventurer Jenna Butler; poet, memoirist, and teacher Carla Funk; accomplished playwright Clem Martini; and Richard Van Camp, author of fiction for children and adults.

Panel discussions include a Publishers Panel featuring representatives from three Canadian provinces, and a panel exploring the theme of “Writing in a Dangerous Time”.

Workshops include Nature Writing with Jenna Butler; Poetry with Carla Funk; and Playwrighting with Clem Martini. Additionally, Butler and local novelist Anne DeGrace offer one-on-one critique sessions for writers who pre-submit work. Workshops and critique sessions are limited to 10 people each, and fees apply. Registration is open now, with spots expected to fill up quickly.

On Sunday, July 11 at 2 p.m. the Festival wraps up with a special reading by workshop participants as well as the presentation of the annual Richard Carver Award for Emerging Writers.

“While we’ll miss being together in one place, the beauty of online is that anyone can join us, from anywhere. You might have a watch party with your sister in St. John’s and your best friend in Montreal,” says Lamb. “It’s a stellar lineup with a greater reach than ever before.”

More information is available at emlfestival.com.