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VIU's Week of Writers crammed with readings of poetry, fiction, non-fiction

Patrick Friesen -
Patrick Friesen
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The valley becomes 'Cowordchan' this week and next as VIU's local campus debut's A Week of Writers.

Eight celebrated wordsmiths — hosted by VIU Cowichan instructor and author Jay Ruzesky — from as far away as Whitehorse will read from their new works during free sessions Feb. 12, 13 and 18.

Since VIU has been bringing writers to Duncan for more than 20 years, Ruzesky, decided to make a celebration out of what may morph into a Cowichan writers' festival.

"This spring, I thought, 'Why not have something like a Cowichan writers' festival, and really focus on writing for a week?'" Ruzesky says in a release.  "So the idea of A Week of Writers was born."

He noted before attempting anything more ambitious, he'd like to involve the community — bookstores, writers who read at The Duncan Garage, and others.

"This week is a way of testing to see if Duncan is interested in a bigger event.  We'll see.  We're inviting the community to come to the new campus and take part."

Reading one happens Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. in Room 135.

Poet Yvonne Blomer launches her new works The Book of Places, and Bicycle Brand Journey. Her work has won awards and been published in Canada, the U.K. and Japan.

Brentwood Bay's Patrick Friesen has published numerous books of poetry and written stage and radio plays. Friesen has also collaborated with choreographers, dancers, musicians and composers. His book, A Broken Bowl, was a finalist for the 1997 Governor-General's Award.

Readings happen at 9 a.m. and noon Feb. 13.

The morning session in room 225 involves Patricia Young, a instructor and author of nine collections of poetry and one of short fiction. She received the Arc Poem of the Year Award in 2009 and 2010. Selections of her poetry were also short-listed for the CBC Literary Competition.

Veteran traveller and psychologist Eve Joseph will read next. Her book The Startled Heart was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Award. The Secret Signature of Things was shortlisted for the 2010 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize and the 2011 Dorothy Livesay Award.

Noon in Room 215 offers Alison Watt's poems seen in Canadian literary journals.Her non-fiction book, The Last Island – a Naturalist's Sojourn on Triangle Island, won the Edna Staebler Award. Her painting and writing reflect her background as a biologist.

Carol Matthews has authored several books — essays, memoirs and short stories — including Questions for Ariadne, Incidental Music, and Dog Days. Her short stories have appeared in many literary journals.

Feb. 18, 9 a.m., room 225 includes award-winning Patricia Robertson, a poet, essayist, and fiction writer. Her most recent book is The Goldfish Dancer: Stories and Novellas. Her first collection of fiction, City of Orphans, was shortlisted for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. She now teaches creative writing at Whitehorse's Yukon College.

Last, not least, is Erling Friis-Baastad, whose poems have appeared in a number of chapbooks as well as in many literary journals and anthologies, including The Malahat Review. The longtime book reviewer and journalist is an editor with the Yukon News in Whitehorse.

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