Main Stage Mania – 2017

Lively, unrehearsed, and not to be missed – Main Stage events at the Readers and Writers Festival, July 13-16. Each year, the organizing committee chooses themes that we hope will appeal to both audiences and the invited authors.

This year, there are four Main Stage events:

Des Kennedy hosts the first one on Friday evening, July 14, featuring two renowned Canadian historians, Charlotte Gray and Ronald Wright.  Charlotte is from Ottawa and has written several popular histories of people and events in Canada’s past, including her most recent book “The Promise of Canada”.  Ronald lives on Salt Spring Island and his books have ranged from the non-fiction classic, “A Short History of Progress” to his most recent novel, “The Gold Eaters” focused on the Spanish interaction with the Inca Empire in 18th century Peru. The topic of this Main Stage is Myths and Realities in History and Literature and the conversation will centre on what may or may not be revealed within history and story.


Saturday July 15 has two Main Stage events:  at 4:15, Jennifer Lee will be joined on stage by Missie Peters, Hasan Namirand Andrew Struthers to tackle the topic of (En)Lighten Up.  Missie hails from Victoria and is a dynamic slam poet and improviser with a wicked sense of humour about modern life.  Hasan comes originally from Iraq and has written a powerful book about being gay in Iraq, “God in Pink”.  Andrew, born in Scotland and raised in Uganda, now makes Victoria home.  His latest is “The Sacred Herb/The Devil’s Weed”.  With Jennifer’s encouragement, these three lively performers will seek to enlighten festival attendees by revealing oppression, or by finding the comic dimensions in difficulties.


Then that evening, three creative authors, Carleigh Baker, Hiromi Gotoand Emily St. John Mandel will join moderator Stewart Goodings in an exploration of Imagining Other Worlds.  Carleigh’s book of short stories, “Bad Endings”  describes contemporary flawed characters.  Hiromi’s books take readers to the world of fantasy, including her latest, “Darkest Light”, while Emily, originally from Denman Island, challenges readers with a speculative tale about life on Earth after a devastating plague, “Station Eleven”.   This panel will examine how writers create stories that engage us in worlds outside our daily lives.


The final Main Stage event is always one that draws a big crowd to the Community Hall on Sunday morning.  This is when Des Kennedy goes one on one (Peter Mansbridge style, but better!) with an author whose work deals with contemporary environmental, political and social consequences.  This year Des will be In Conversation with provocative author and journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, whose latest book is “Slick Water” about the dangers of fracking.  The sub-text of what is sure to be a lively exchange is “how to find liberation from our enslavement to fracking, tar sands, pipelines and petro-dollars”.  What a way to end the 15th anniversary edition of the Readers and Writers Festival!

Each of our invited authors is worth full attention in their respective solo sessions during the schedule, but these Main Stage events provide the opportunity to see them in groupings with each other, and with Denman moderators – exchanging views, challenging assumptions, and providing entertainment and new perspectives for Festival-goers.

Register for Main Stage events at: or buy tickets at Abraxas Books, Denman Island.

Stewart Goodings  June 2017

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