The Wordstock Sudbury Literary Festival is a go, with a blended in-person and virtual version of the event slated to take place Nov. 4 to 6.
Organizers hosted a media event at Holiday Inn Sudbury at 1696 Regent St. to announce the upcoming festival, which event chair and co-founder Heather Campbell said was intended to demonstrate their ability to host an in-person event.
The event will also take place at the Holiday Inn, and like today’s media event proof of vaccine will be required at the door, masks will be worn at all times other than when a speaker was at the podium and seats will be spaced out to account for physical distancing.
“I wanted for all to see where we’re having it, how it can happen, that it is doable,” Campbell said after the event, adding that this is similar to what they’d intended on doing last year until a surge in COVID-19 cases forced them to host an online-only version of the festival.
Although disappointing at the time, board member Bennett Malcolmson said last year’s virtual format opened the doors for people from across the country to take part in the festival.
This year’s hybrid version will allow for a virtual crowd as well as those who prefer the traditional in-person festival, and Malcolmson credits the virtual version with helping them achieve their accessibility mandate.
This mandate was bolstered by a $39,100 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in mid-2020, which has allowed festival organizers to develop an accessibility plan and ensure that community members of different levels of ability are able to attend the annual event.
This effort includes a new website following Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act guidelines.
Included in today’s media event was the announcement of this year’s collections of authors and literary business insiders, the full slate of which is available at wordstocksudbury.ca.
Some, such as poetry slam artist Aurore Gatwenzi, will be appearing in-person, while others, such as Burnaby author Jen Sookfong Lee, will be appearing virtually.
“Our festival is not just known here in Sudbury, but it’s across Canada,” Campbell said. “We are amongst other literary festivals that happen in Canada and bring this calibre of authors to the community.”
The virtual format, she added, contributes even further to the festival’s wide reach.
Greater Sudbury poet laureate Vera Constantineau will present some of her latest works during the festival, and attended today’s media launch to show her support for the annual literary festival she attends every year.
“Writing is an isolated business — you’re by yourself and going to presentations like Wordstock means you’re exposed to writers who have made it and can give you the benefit of their experience,” she said.
“You can learn things from people who have been through it and take workshops and be more aware of the business side of it because it is a business in many ways.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, in which people have been largely confined to their homes with their thoughts, appears to have brought out more people’s inner author, with Constantineau noting a jump in people requesting information from the Sudbury Writers’ Guild.
Writing, she said, is like “purging yourself.”
“I think writing has made a huge impact on people who write and who didn’t write before,” she said. “People don’t write letters anymore, so you’ve got to get it out someway.”
Tickets to this year’s Wordstock Literary Festival are going up for sale online on Monday and will be available by clicking here.