Literary festival takes root on campus

The campus will be teeming with lit lovers and writers alike from Feb. 20-22 as the Malahat Review hosts WordsThaw 2014, the second-annual spring symposium put on by UVic’s renowned literary quarterly. Participants will mingle, learn and delight alongside 38 featured poets, novelists, short-story writers and journalists from Victoria and beyond.

The Malahat Review is thrilled to be able to bring Victoria’s vibrant writing scene together, with a few welcome guests from elsewhere, as we celebrate the power of words,” sayseditor John Barton.

Daphne Marlatt opens WordsThaw with her talk Liquid (i) city: Vancouver Transitional. Marlatt—a seminal figure in Canada poetry who edited the groundbreaking West Coast journal TISH and was appointed to the Order of Canada for her work—will explore links between language, place and memory in her remarks. Part of the Faculty of Humanities’ Lansdowne Lecture Series, Liquid (i) city is free to the public on Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in David Turpin Building A120.

Friday evening’s event promises to be spine-chillingly memorable, as eight new and established writers lend their voices to Words on Ice: Evolution of the Author. UVic notables include David Leach, director of professional writing, and Benjamin Willems, a fourth-year writing student. Doors at 7:00 p.m., reading at 7:30 p.m, HSD A240.

Saturday gives WordsThaw pass holders a menu of  four panel discussions, also in HSD. Embracing the switch to digital, panelists Sarah Petrescu, Emily Shorthouse and Will Johnson present Author as Avatar: Social Media and Blogging. UVic writing faculty Tim Lilburn, along with Jane Munro and Marita Dachsel, dig deep with The Inner Life of Our Words: Writing and the Human Spirit. For those with an interest in setting, Spirit of Place: Writing Local History should hit the spot. And for those who like a strong dose of political urgency and commitment in their writing, Shining a Light: Writer as Witness brings local MLA (and UVic climate researcher) Andrew Weaver together with poet Gary Geddes and author Monique Gray Smith to address activism in art. 

Full-pass holders looking for a more personal experience can sign up at no extra charge for “Brief Encounters,” a lunch-hour program of one-on-one consultations to discuss samples of their own poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or children’s/young-adult literature. Gain insights from Dede Crane, JoAnn Dionne, Catherine Greenwood, Matthew Hooton, Steve Noyes, Aaron Shepard, Robin Stevenson and Christine Walde.

WordsThaw passes may be purchased in advance for $40 ($30 for students and Friends of the Malahat) or $50 ($40 for students and Friends) during the symposium; pass holders receive a one-year Malahat subscription. Tickets for Words on Ice only may be purchased at the door for $10 ($5, students and Friends).

For more detailed information, go to, email WordsThaw at, or call 250-721-8524.

In this story

Keywords: writing

People: Daphne Marlatt, Benjamin Willems, David Leach, Sarah Petrescu, Emily Shorthouse, Will Johnson

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