The 2012 NorthWords NWT writers’ festival looked to home for the theme of this year’s event in Yellowknife.
Each year, the festival aims to provide a broad theme for the many writers attending to read excerpts from their latest works and talk with other writers looking for advice, entertainment or mentorship.
“Our theme this year is ‘finding home.’ We always try to get a really broad theme that will encompass everything, but this year it ties into our anthology,” said Annelies Pool, executive director of NorthWords NWT.
The festival featured several writers from the North and the rest of Canada. One of the special guests at this year’s festival was Linden MacIntyre, co-host of the fifth estate and winner of the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his second novel, The Bishop’s Man.
Pool said the NorthWords festival has grown each year, and attracts more and more people from outside Yellowknife to meet and hear from the many and varied writers.
“It’s starting to change. We do our best to bring people in and make it a truly Northern festival,” Pool said.
Accompanying this year’s festival is announcement of the first NorthWords anthology, written entirely by writers from the North.
“We’re wildly excited about it,” Pool said. “It was just a pipe dream because at NorthWords NWT, our mandate is to support Northern writing. We’ve been going for seven years and we have workshops and we connect emerging Northern writers with more established Canadian writers and offer mentorships. The bottom line of supporting the writer is to help them get published.”
Seventeen authors were selected to contribute to the anthology, which is funded by De Beers Canada as part of its support for literacy. The book, Coming Home: Stories from the Northwest Territories, will be released by Winnipeg-based Great Plains Publications in September under its Enfield and Wizenty imprint.
The most difficult thing with any book is funding. The NorthWords board of directors wanted to publish an anthology of work y Northern writers for several years, but money was not available to do so. De Beers stepped up to fund the project. Working with Great Plains to sift through and judge the 94 entries submitted for inclusion, the NorthWords team settled on 17 stories.