Writers’ festival offers wisdom to aspiring authors

In a writers’ workshop, young scribes will invariably move beyond staid domestic issues cherished by so many Canadian authors.

In a writers’ workshop, young scribes will invariably move beyond staid domestic issues cherished by so many Canadian authors.

“The age group is more excited about fantastical things rather than the straight narratives and common everyday things,” said local author Jerome Stueart, who’s sharing his knowledge at this weekend’s Young Authors Conference.

“Kids are much more open to talking animals or lasers, or talking animals with lasers.”

The conference is part of the 17th annual Yukon Writers’ Festival, which features public readings from Stueart, Giller Prize-winning novelist Elizabeth Hay and local product Ivan E. Coyote.

The authors will read tonight at the Beringia Centre along with poet Robert Priest, author Kevin Chong and adventure writer Jon Turk.

Stueart is humbled he gets to share the stage with established talent.

“They chose incredible writers this time around,” he said.

“Everybody has a lot of good work. I’m not as published as some, so I’m kind of learning from them and I’m hoping to talk to them while they’re here.”

But more than talking shop with fellow writers, he’s eager to work with the kids — selected from Grades 8 to 12 across the Yukon — at the Young Authors’ Conference on Thursday and Friday.

Stueart, a science fiction writer who’s published in numerous journals, magazines and newspapers, has earned creative writing post-graduate degrees from two universities.

He wants to impart some of his writerly wisdom onto the kids, as he did several years ago at the same conference.

“The kids have endless imagination and they’re open to being taught,” he said.

Stueart will introduce some memoir writing exercises and provide plenty of feedback on stories already submitted by the students who’ve been pre-chosen to participate.

All authors reading Wednesday night will be working with the students.

Following the conference, the authors will stage another reading in Haines Junction at the St. Elias Convention Centre on Saturday.

This year’s line up is especially diverse, said Lori Schroeder, Whitehorse Public Library librarian and festival organizer.

From a storyteller and performer, to sci-fi and award-winning novelist, there’s something for everybody, she said.

“It covers this lovely, broad spectrum of writing so things are kept fresh and different,” said Schroeder.

She’s organizing the festival along with teacher Joyce Sward from FH Collins.

The festival is a chance to hear new authors or enjoy old favourites, she added.

“If you’re a writer, you probably know most people writing in town and this is a chance to hear something new,” said Schroeder.

“And hearing an author read from a book you’ve read could be a learning experience.”

Festival organizers lucked out when they booked Hay before she won the Giller Prize for her novel, Late Nights On Air.

“She’s a great writer whether she won or not and we’re fortunate that her award might bring out more people,” said Schroeder.

Hay spent some of her early 20s in Yellowknife, but hasn’t yet been to the Yukon.

She’s eager to explore the territory on her five-town reading tour, which stops in Tagish, Mayo, Dawson, Carmacks and Teslin.

Writers’ festivals tend to be in big cities and it’s unusual to have one in a place that isn’t a huge urban centre, said Hay.

“When I was invited to come months ago, I leapt at the chance,” she said.

“I don’t always leap at the chance, mind you. I’m old enough now that travelling has lost its luster. But I leapt to the Yukon.”

Writer festivals can prove useful for a writer, said Hay.

“You’re guaranteed an audience,” she said.

“It’s an efficient way of fulfilling the public function of being a writer. It’d be far less efficient to visit one book club after another.”

The most important time Hay has is when she’s alone writing, but that can become too isolated, she said.

“It’s a nice break to get out and read to people who love books, and you do meet other writers, which can be pleasurable,” she said.

Tonight’s reading starts at 7 p.m. and is free. The reading in Haines Junction starts at 7 p.m. and costs $10 or free for seniors and children under 12.

The festival has been helped by support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Junction Arts and Music, the Yukon government, the Yukon Science Institute, Mac’s Fireweed, the Writers’ Union of Canada and the Yukon News.

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

A draft plan has been released by the Dawson Regional Use Planning commission on June 15. Julien Gignac/Yukon News
Draft plan released by the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission

Dawson Regional Land Use Commission releases draft plan, Government of Yukon withdraws additional lands from mineral staking in the planning region

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Let them live in trailers

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read