Wild Writers Literary Festival returns for 11th year

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Books on a bookshelf
Books on a bookshelf
Contributed image

From Oct. 28-30 the Wild Writers Literary Festival returned for another year of connecting Canadian writers and authors of all backgrounds and levels of experience. The annual event is hosted by The New Quarterly literary magazine. 

2022 not only marked the 11th anniversary of the festival, but also a return to in person festivities. I was fortunate enough to attend the main day of the festival and attend some wonderfully informative classes and presentations. Prior to the festival I talked to Eleni Zaptses who is the festival manager and the managing editor of The New Quarterly. 

The festival took place at Balsillie School of International Affairs and featured dozens of professional writers, including a couple Pulitzer prize winners. I asked Eleni what the main goal of the festival was, “Since we’re returning in person for the first time [the goal is] reconnecting with the [Waterloo] community in person… that also includes students and all of the readers and writers locally.”  

The festival garnered a strong turn out, however, what I found more profound was the desire of the festival goers to learn as much as they could from the experience. I asked Eleni if the festival expected attendees to be of a prevailing skill level. “There’s no prerequisites and that’s the interesting thing about the festival,” she told me. While experienced writers are welcomed, so too are amateurs. “You don’t have to be a professional.” 

I was present at Luke Hathaway’s workshop The Poem as Mask. As someone who dabbles in poetry, I found Luke’s ideas particularly refreshing. It gave me a different perspective on poetry and a desire to experiment a bit more next time I had the chance.  I also sat in for a panel featuring Heather O’Neill, Carrie Snyder, and Tasneem Jamal giving tips about editing. These experienced professionals have unique insight when it comes to editing; their different experiences granted valuable advice to all aspiring writers in attendance.  

I found everyone at the festival to be very friendly and excited to be attending. The speakers themselves were polite and genuinely concerned with helping more Canadian writers become successful. There was a positive atmosphere that permeated throughout the day making the day a breezy and enjoyable experience. 

I asked Eleni if we could expect another Wild Writers Literary festival in 2023. “That’s the plan! This is our 11th year and we’re continuing to plan full steam ahead for 2023.” She explained that for the organizers, there was a big learning curve when it came to readjusting to in person. However, she expressed optimism in how the foundation that was laid this year would benefit the 12th annual festival in 2023. 


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