From Charles Dickens to George Orwell to James Baldwin to Naomi Klein, writers have been including social and political messages in their prose. Whether in novels or non-fiction books, the urge to change the world, or a part of it, has always been an element of the creative process.
And at this year’s Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival, we will have three ardent advocates of social and political change: Donald Gutstein, Bob Bossin and Lee Maracle.
Gutstein is a professor at Simon Fraser and has been an activist since early on in his career. Over thirty years ago, he wrote a book about abusive corporate urban development in Vancouver, called “Vancouver Ltd.” and last year, several books later, he published a masterful critique of Stephen Harper and his government, “Harperism”.
Bossin, self-described as “the old folksinger”, now living on GabriolaIsland, butoriginally from Toronto was the long-time co-leader of “Stringband”, one of Canada’s leading indie folk units. He’s always been a believer in what he calls “the role art can play in political struggle”, and one of his most notable songs, “Sulphur Passages” was a major contribution to the Clayoquot forest protests.
Maracle is a leading First Nations author of a dozen books, including her latest, “Celia’s Song”, a harrowing story of pain, hardship and redemption in an indigenous community. Her literary and political themes relate to racism, post-colonialism and the creative empowerment of indigenous communities and individuals.
Lucky me, I get to facilitate a conversation with these three dynamic writers and activists at this year’s Festival. One of the main stage events, we are calling it “Agents Provocateurs” and it will take place on Friday, July 17.
For Denman and Comox Valley activists — of which there are many! — this is a must-attend event.