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September 2019

Treaties and Ashes: Stories of the Indigenous Experience

September 25 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Islandview Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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Is a treaty a contract or an act of faith? A form of justice or just another way to tell a story? Poet-scholar Armand Garnet Ruffo and memoirist-historian Jesse Thistle excavate the deeper meanings and consequences of the agreements – written and unwritten, spoken and unspoken, personal and collective – that bind us all. With moderator Sam McKegney they share sometimes painful truths that nevertheless help to shape the past, present, and future of Canada. Islandview 6:30 – 7:30 pm…

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An Evening with Michael Crummey

September 25 @ 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Bellevue Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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Is there a slice of Newfoundland that award-winning Michael Crummey’s pen has not touched? No stranger to Kingston WritersFest, Michael is a warm, funny, and charming storyteller to spend an evening with in literary talk.  Join Michael and Steven Heighton as they unpack his latest novel The Innocents, a richly imagined and riveting story of a young brother and sister surviving alone, and prepare to be transported to their isolated cove on the Rock. Cash bar. Media sponsor: 96.3 BIG…

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Two Authors, Two Women, Two Flights: Fiction

September 26 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Bellevue Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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Two women, each at the top of a flight of stairs. One grips the banister. The other does not. Bringing them together in this conversation are Cary Fagan, author of The Student and Howard Akler, author of Splitsville – two powerful novels set in Toronto – that chronicle the extraordinary changes the city has undergone, and move through time. Join Cary, Howard, and moderator Merilyn Simonds as they seek out the connections, emotions and anxieties that serendipitously link their books.…

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Skeptics and Seekers: What is Spiritual Living?

September 26 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Islandview Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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How do you live a soulful life? Anne Bokma reports on a year-long experiment of spiritual truth, beauty, trouble, and fun, as she consults a shaman, tries forest bathing, and hosts ‘death dinners.’ Susan Scott has collected stories about the messiness of faith, practice, religion, and ceremony – from writers such as Sharon Bala, Carleigh Baker, K.D. Miller, and Alison Pick – stories personal, hilarious, and profoundly meaningful. With essay contributor Lindy Mechefske, they dig deeply into spirituality and skepticism…

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All Things Observed

September 27 @ 9:30 am - 10:30 am
Bellevue Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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A festival-favourite, award-winning author Elizabeth Hay is back! This time she has turned her razor-sharp gaze on herself, her family, and the challenging journey of aging that lies in front of us all. Funny, insightful, brave and crafty, Elizabeth transforms the trials and tribulations of being a daughter in mid-life into vital prose. Join her in a heartfelt conversation with acclaimed Toronto author Howard Akler, whose own adroit writing unearths the same kind of eternal yet personal mysteries. Event sponsor:…

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The Odd Couple: Fiction

September 27 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Bellevue Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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Internationally-acclaimed Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue returns to Kingston WritersFest with a novel about odd pairings across generations, regions, language, status, and time. What links us is often far stronger than what separates us, and Emma’s writing is a formidable bridge of understanding in the modern world. Joined in conversation by another Irish firecracker of an author, Anakana Schofield, this pair promises to knock the lid off of writing, humour, and the oddest couple in contemporary fiction. Event sponsor: Chris James…

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Women Who’ve Had Enough: Fiction

September 27 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Bellevue Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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Join Irish-Canadian author Anakana Schofield and Newfoundland author Megan Gail Coles as they discuss small town politics, neighbourhood gossips, and the fired-up, fed-up female characters that populate their new novels. With moderator Aara Macauley, they explore the situations and frustrations that drive women to the edge, and the challenges and importance of addressing hard topics – abuse, exploitation, power imbalances – with a little light and a lot of dark humour. Media sponsor: Fresh 104.3 Bellevue 2:30 – 3:30 pm…

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Spills, Thrills, and Reading Wills: The Fiction of Fear

September 28 @ 9:30 am - 10:30 am
Islandview Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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Petrifying plot twists. Treacheries you don’t see coming. Imaginations both out of this world and very much a part of it – strap yourself in for some well-crafted and honest suspense with two of Canada’s scariest writers, Andrew Pyper and Catherine McKenzie. Moderated by Marc Garniss, Director of the Kingston Canadian Film Festival, this event will explore the deeper truths beneath our fears, and how to face them. You’ll want to keep the lid on your free coffee! Co-presented by…

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Eternity in an Hour: The Power of Short Fiction

September 28 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Bellevue Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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Seneca said, “As is a tale, so is life: what matters is not how long, but how good.” Many consider the short story the toughest form to master, but David Bezmozgis and HB Hogan have found unique ways to tell illuminating, sometimes difficult, and often personal stories in the short form. Joined by short fiction author Adrian Michael Kelly, David and HB talk about how they distill theme, story, and character, and why the twist at the end never gets…

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The Fiction of Guy Gavriel Kay: Where Fantasy and History Collide

September 28 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Islandview Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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International best-selling author Guy Gavriel Kay has created almost as many worlds as he has written books, and each is fleshed out with history, culture, language, and religion. While many fantasy authors hide their inspiration, Kay admits it up front. A Brightness Long Ago creatively evokes the Machiavellian world of Renaissance Italy. Ben Charland chats with Guy about the dialogue between fact and fiction, and what happens when the imagination is allowed to run free. Islandview 12:30 – 1:30 pm…

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The Time Has Come: Achieving Gender Equality

September 28 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Bellevue Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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For decades, author and educator Michael Kaufman has urged boys and men not only to embrace but to actively promote equal rights for women. Michael argues that men also stand to benefit from the ongoing gender equality revolution, which promises to unlock immense economic, cultural, and creative potential around the world. In light of continuing barriers and backward steps, feminist poet Tanis Macdonald asks Michael what men have done – and what they can do. All are welcome! Media Sponsor:…

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The Reality Bubble

September 28 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Islandview Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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We are only capable of seeing a thin sliver of reality. But beneath and between the careful surface there are hidden forces that affect our lives in unexpected and even dangerous ways. Renowned science journalist Ziya Tong uncovers the unseen and unspoken, through the power of skin-unraveling X-rays, high-tech surveillance enabled by artificial intelligence, 360-degree animal vision, and much more. In conversation with podcaster Ben Charland, Ziya explores and exposes our collective blind spots and un-blurs the lens of history.…

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The Big Idea: Is Democracy Doomed?

September 28 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Bellevue Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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In this election year, the Big Idea focuses on a question that is on everyone’s mind: what is the future of Canadian democracy? Can cherished institutions endure ongoing assault from populism, climate change, social media, geopolitical turbulence, and accelerating social upheaval? Are our governments up to it? Join Indigenous poet and thought leader Lee Maracle, political journalist Robert Lewis, and community organizer and activist Dave Meslin in a critical and timely discussion with Kingston WritersFest’s veteran moderator, Carol Off. Media…

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Author! Author!

September 28 @ 8:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Islandview Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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M.G. Vassanji’s award-winning novels are global in scope and scale. His most recent novel, A Delhi Obsession explores the contours, passions, traditions, and seeming impossibilities that link Toronto and Delhi today. Joined in conversation with broadcast journalist Eric Friesen, Vassanji will talk about the connections between his life and work, the inevitable sweep of history, and how those things that make us different are the same as those that make us human. In celebration of the Governor General’s Literary Awards…

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Hope Matters

September 29 @ 9:30 am - 10:30 am
Islandview Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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The romance of the raven; the headstones in the clearing; the ember of justice; a cry to the bark-stripped moon – these are just a few of the many images in Hope Matters, a collection of poems centred around the journey of indigenous peoples in Canada from colonialism to reconciliation, and from home to the broader world. Lee Maracle and co-writer and daughter Columpa Bobb of the Sto:lo Coastal Salish nation share their insights and wisdom in conversation with Anishnaabekwe writer,…

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Stitching in Time: Historical Fiction

September 29 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Bellevue Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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Join international best-selling author Jennifer Robson as she unpicks, in gorgeous detail, Princess Elizabeth’s super-secret wedding gown in post-war Britain. With glimpses into royal protocols, couturier design houses, and the desperate privations of two young women who work on the gown, Jennifer illuminates a time when a nation set aside its desperate worries and celebrated something happy and uplifting – in the confusion and stress of the present day, we could use such a celebration. Bring your handwork and leave…

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Fighting for Their Rights: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters in Early Canada

September 29 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Islandview Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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“Blacks have always been part of the Canadian story,” says author Cecil Foster, “but Canada did not always recognize the contributions that blacks have made.” When white unions refused to allow black workers into their ranks, the porters formed their own organizations to demand respect for their labour.  In conversation with Lawrence Scanlan, Cecil presents the unromanticized and previously untold story of their fight for social justice and how it changed this country for the better. Islandview 12:30 – 1:30…

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Lady Franklin Writes: Where Historians Dare Not Go

September 29 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

In her debut novel, Erika Behrisch Elce explores the doomed Franklin Expedition from a fresh perspective, that of Franklin’s wife. The story begins with her anticipation of Sir John’s return and continues through her campaign for answers after his death. Written in a lively and instantly believable voice, this epistolary novel speaks back to standard biographies of an extraordinary woman. Erika and YA novelist Y. S. Lee talk about rigorous research, pure invention, and the unexplored spaces in between. Media…

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Sicilian Awakenings: Fiction

September 29 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Islandview Room, Holiday Inn, 2 Princess St
Kingston, Ontario K7L 1A2 Canada
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Some authors peel back the layers of character to reveal what makes us truly human. Some survey the historical record to find the lines that unite us through time. And some explore the passion, desperation, and terrible power of creativity, and the need to make something magical. Very few novelists do all of these; author Steven Price makes it look effortless. Join him in conversation with literary aficionado Gregory McCormick as they discuss the capacity for fiction to tell many…

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FESTIVAL TICKET INFO + PRICES 2019

Want more info?

View and download the digital Program Guide or Schedule-at-a-Glance!

Tickets can be purchased directly from the Grand Theatre Box Office online (click the ‘Buy Now’ ticket icon), in person at 218 Princess Street, or by phone (613-530-2050) until 6 pm on Tuesday, September 24, 2019.

Ticket prices are listed as Pre-Festival (purchased by 6 pm on Tuesday, September 24), and Festival (all tickets purchased once the Festival has begun):

Regular Onstage and Festival Field Trip events
General Admission $20 Adv/$22 Fest; Senior $18 Pre/$20 Fest; Student $5 Pre/ $8 Fest

Writers Retreat Classes General Admission $35 Pre/$40 Fest; Senior $32 Pre/$38 Fest

Robertson Davies Dinner, Book Lovers’ Lunch and The Long Table General Admission $45; Senior $40

Literary Pub (S)crawl General Admission $40 (includes 3 beverages; $27 (event only)

BUY 5 and SAVE – available for regular events OR Writers Retreat classes! Add EITHER 5 regular onstage OR 5 Writers Retreat tickets to your cart, change the price point to 5 AND SAVE and the discount will automatically be applied.

OFFSEASON EVENTS: View event description carefully for details on price, advance sale cut-offs, and venue.

FEES: All ticket prices include HST. Please be advised that the Grand Theatre Box Office will add a handling fee of $3.80/ticket.

TICKET PICK-UP: Any tickets that are not picked up at the Grand Theatre before 12 pm on Wednesday, September 25th will be brought to the onsite box office at the Holiday Inn. You may pick up your tickets at the Holiday Inn at any time during onsite box office hours (30 minutes before the first onsite event of the day til 15 minutes after the last event of the day).

During the festival, tickets are ONLY available onsite from the Festival Box Office on the main floor of the Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront.

EXCHANGES and REFUNDS: We do not offer exchanges or refunds on tickets (except when an event is cancelled), so please plan before you buy. Latecomers will be seated at the discretion of KWF staff.

PHOTOGRAPHS: No flash photography, video recorders or tape recorders, please.