Sunday, 19 June 2016

Sunday June 19, 2016 Thunder Bay's Writing Community

Thunder Bay is cultivating quite a vibrant and active local writing community.  We have had a literary connection for a while - the genesis being in the early 90s with the arrival of Charlie Wilkins as the writer-in-residence at the library.  It seems to me, though, that lately we are hearing more and more success stories:  local people being published in literary journals and magazines, qualifying for and receiving Ontario Arts Council grants, being short listed and even winning literary prizes, being signed with larger publishers and getting writing advances! With the proliferation and promotion of e-publishing platforms, we are seeing local authors successfully navigating the waters of e-publishing!

It was a thrill for me to join the local literati at the 2016 NOWW (Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop) Literary Awards Party in early May.  It was a wonderful affair.  We heard from Thunder Bay's own, Michael Christie.  And it is only "one of our own" who can poke fun at us and Thunder Bay's inferiority complex!!!  Michael's first novel If I Fall, If I Die is set in Thunder Bay, and I must say it was wonderful to read a story of this caliber set in my home town!  We also got to celebrate great news about Jean E. Pendziwol, Amy Jones, and the successes of some other amazing local writers and Award winners Sue Blott, Roy Blomstrom, Susan Rogers, and H. (Heather) Leighton Dickson just to name a few.

But writing is more than fiction, short stories, memoires and poetry.  Having participated in this year's 10 x 10 play showcase, I can attest to the vibrant playwright scene as a subset of the overall literary renaissance. What a fabulous group of playwrights we have to fill that quadrant as well.  10 local playwrights were chosen from a plethora of submissions and then 10 local directors pulled it all together to create a 10 minute short - no easy task!!

Just look to the Walleye magazine or the very similar US publication - North Woods.  In there we find great articles by Gord Ellis (an award-winning outdoor columnist), Elle Andra-Warner and others.

I for one feel that from a literary standpoint, Thunder Bay can hold its head high.  Now of course, all these writers need readers!  And that is where we librarians play a role.  You can always count on the Thunder Bay Public Library, its staff and its website to offer reading suggestions.  If you haven't joined a book club, check out the new club at the County Park branch - they meet on a Thursday afternoon, once a month.  If you want some ideas for your next novel, check out our online source NoveList for great read-a-like suggestions.  If you want to be part of a bigger reading event, be sure to check out the launch of the first "One book/ One community" event tomorrow at the Waverley library.  One title will be selected and the whole community will be invited to read the book and attend local events to share their thoughts. Check out after the launch to see all the activities surrounding this event.

For a more Regional taste, plan to attend a book reading by Minnesota writing Mark Munger.  Mark is no stranger to Thunder Bay, and is in town as part of Finn Fest.  His reading takes place June 24 at 2 pm at the Waverley Resource Library.

Be sure to check out your library for fabulous reading materials - either in paper format or online, either local/regional or national/international!  And watch for a literary celebration planned for the Fall during Culture Days.  Until then, happy reading!!

Barb Philp

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