Writers Retreat | Offsite Event | Food Event | Coffee Event | Cash bar | Included in Festival Pass
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***SOLD OUT*** Kingston performance poet Alyssa Cooper offers this learn-by-doing performance poetry workshop. Learn how to use descriptive tools like metaphor and symbolism, and then try out performance techniques like alliteration, syncopation, rhythm, and feel how the act of performing can change the written aspect of a piece. Alyssa walks you through writing your own allegorical piece, choosing an object to represent a person, and as a framing device for what you want to say to that person. Compose and…Find out more »
In her thrilling memoir, Into the Planet, internationally renowned cave diver Jill Heinerth takes us into the least-known crevices of Planet Earth. Through cracks in the world’s biggest iceberg, or along the conduit of a volcano, Jill sees the world as few others can – and dives not merely for sport or adventure, but to expand the boundaries of scientific knowledge. Join Jill for an unforgettable presentation about exploring new frontiers, confronting fear, and pushing the limits of human endurance.…Find out more »
***SOLD OUT*** “Life can be hard; death can be harder.” Old magic, deceit, and mystery link the latest works by two innovative and exciting writers, novelist David Alexander Robertson, a Swampy Cree, and Algonquin Anishinaabe debut author, Karen McBride. While tricksters, strange spirits, and post-apocalyptic settings may be unsettling, what could possibly haunt us more than the deeper recesses of our own selves? Lindsay Morcom moderates a conversation about the hidden powers locked within characters who are caught up in…Find out more »
*SOLD OUT* Join playwright Shannon Bramer for an interactive workshop that helps you create multi-dimensional characters and extend the boundaries of your writing with experiments that might include poetry, art, dreams, and memory. Listen and learn from each other by reading your work aloud. If you like, come with one short piece to share, either your own or something by a writer you admire. You’ll leave the workshop with a rough draft of a creative new monologue or short scene.…Find out more »
In 2018, filmmaker Luna Ferguson made history as the first person in Ontario to receive a birth certificate declaring their gender as non-binary. Their memoir, Me, Myself, They, explores how they transformed early traumas into creativity, strength, and empathy. Luna also celebrates the decades-long work of activists for transgender visibility and safety, and invites us to consider our own fluidity and potential for identity to change. Joined by gender studies researcher and advocate Lee Airton, this promises to be a…Find out more »
***SOLD OUT*** One girl is dispatched to Qatar after calling out her Islamophobic teacher. The other is sent away for an arranged marriage in Bangladesh after she is caught by staunchly traditional parents, as she kisses a girl. These characters, from two very different authors, S.K. Ali and Sabina Khan, share a common experience of exile and discovery. Join S.K. and Sabina for a discussion on family, community, truth, and being loved for who you are. Moderated by young adult…Find out more »
*SOLD OUT* If you’re a fan of Watchmen, Scott Pilgrim, or This One Summer, take a tour of the graphic novel, guided by award-winning author David Alexander Robertson – with stops at its history, how a script evolves into a story told in pictures, and how the script you write helps in the development of the images. David shows you how to plan your story’s structure, how to script it out and develop character and plot. Bring your bullet journal or notebook and get…Find out more »
*SOLD OUT* Award-winning novelist Alan Cumyn guides you through image-based exercises to unlock your creativity while exploring fundamentals of strong, visually rich writing. Whether we write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or memoir, we’ve all heard the advice to “show, not tell.” Using evocative paintings, photographs and texts as jumping-off points, students craft new work paying particular attention to mood, atmosphere, situation, detail, what needs to be on the page... and what does not. Come prepared to play and to write! Limited enrolment.…Find out more »
Can humans and wolves co-exist? Author Paula Wild asks a question that has major ramifications for our place in this world. She considers the myths and fears surrounding wolves, the history of conflict between our two species, current scientific and wildlife-management practices, and the contrasting current popularity of the wolf as the “poster child” for endangered species. As humans and wolves now live in closer proximity than most of us imagine, our actions now, more than ever, determine our shared…Find out more »
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.…Find out more »
*SOLD OUT* In this master class, Lawrence Scanlan – the author or co-author of 24 books (non-fiction, memoir, and young adult fiction) – details what he has learned in his forty-year-long writing life about the fundamentals of good prose. About rhythm and flow, clarity and pacing, the use of imagery and dialogue, how to critique and edit one’s own work, and the art of the interview – the basis of so much journalism and almost every kind of writing. Limited…Find out more »
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…Find out more »
Commonwealth Writer’s Prize-winning author Marina Endicott and Giller-award-winner Johanna Skibsrud join veteran broadcaster Eric Friesen in a free-ranging discussion of both their bodies of work, and their explorations of complex moral issues of prejudice, class, cultural difference, the imperial mindset, and our responsibility toward other humans, sentient beings, and the natural world. Marina’s astonishingly beautiful The Difference takes us on a clipper ship journey from Nova Scotia to the South Pacific as it is experienced by a thoughtful pre-teen, Kay. Hailed by the Globe and…Find out more »
*SOLD OUT* Susan Scott, the non-fiction editor of The New Quarterly, shines a light on the typical mistakes that writers make, and shows you how to fix them to avoid being panned by social media, the grammar police, or others. Using examples from her work with books and magazines, national contests, retreats, and award-winning collaborations, Susan combines illustrations of errors and missteps with lively, pragmatic tips and exercises for avoiding certain pitfalls and attracting the right kind of attention to your work. Limited…Find out more »
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:…Find out more »
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…Find out more »
Get your notepads ready – here’s your backstage pass to the publishing industry! No one is more plugged in that Ben McNally of Toronto’s Ben McNally Books, and he is ready to give you another year of insightful book recommendations for discerning readers – need we mention the charm, verve, and vigour with which he presents them? Always a festival favourite, the Book Lovers’ Lunch sells out quickly, so get your tickets now! Lunch Menu Comes with salad, choice of…Find out more »
*SOLD OUT* A book pitch is usually a blunt summary and crude sales vehicle, a disposable by-product of the real work. But pitching carries liberating potential to challenge what your story is “about.” In this master class, bestselling author Andrew Pyper gives you a series of exercises to discover your story’s most powerful expression. By the end of the afternoon, you’ll have written one of three documents crucial for getting your book published: the outline, the verbal pitch script, or…Find out more »
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…Find out more »
*SOLD OUT* We talk all the time, so nothing should be easier than writing dialogue. Yet, most writers find it hard to do convincingly. The ones who can do it are said to have an “ear”. Showing examples from other writers and from his own work, award-winning novelist and screenwriter, David Bezmozgis, invites you to investigate together how dialogue is used, what separates the good from the awful, and gives you an opportunity to try team-writing some dialogue to share with the…Find out more »
Who Is Bruce Kauffman? is an anthology film that explores and celebrates Kingston’s vibrant literary and spoken-word community through the eyes of a poet impresario who manages to be both ubiquitous and elusive. This is a thoughtful ode to a life devoted to the fusion of poetry and community, and an invitation for us to bridge the two. Join Kingston’s Poet Laureate, Jason Heroux, and special guest Bruce Kauffman for a special screening and talk-back. Co-presentation of Kingston WritersFest and…Find out more »
To celebrate the gift of storytelling in honour of Robertson Davies, beloved Canadian man of letters, we present writers whose work is of lasting impact. In 2019, we honour Emma Donoghue, internationally lauded author of unique works such as Slammerkin, Room, The Wonder, and her newest novel, Akin. After dinner, Emma delivers brief keynote comments and chats with Merilyn Simonds about the writing life, the importance of geography in fiction, and the challenges of telling stories on page, stage, and…Find out more »
Kingston WritersFest and the Dan School of Drama and Music proudly present a staged reading of Damian Tarnopolsky's The Defence, the winning play of the 2019 Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition. Join us for an exclusive first look at the winning play at Kingston WritersFest. Previous Voaden Prize winners include Jordan Tannahill for Late Company and Norman Yeung for Theory. This year’s best play, announced at KWF’s July launch, receives a prize of $15,000. Co-presentation of KWF and Dan School of Drama & Music…Find out more »
*SOLD OUT* “Poems, novels, stories are built word by word,” says poet Lorna Crozier. That sounds simple, but what goes into our choosing which word we’ll use? Why “dolor” over “sadness”? “mutt” over “canine”? Lorna examines writers’ choices and then lets you write something, with this passage from Lewis Carroll in mind: “Must a name mean something?” Alice asked doubtfully. “Of course, it must,” Humpty Dumpty said. “My name means the shape I am--and a good handsome shape it is, too.”…Find out more »
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…Find out more »
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…Find out more »
***SOLD OUT*** Don’t miss this exceptional lunch event! Globe and Mail national food reporter Ann Hui travelled across Canada for 18 days to report on why every small town has a Chinese restaurant. Her report eventually became Chop Suey Nation, which chronicles not just the history of Chinese-Canadian food (and the invention of dishes like ginger beef), but Ann’s own family history. Join Ann at the Silver Wok Restaurant for a tasty and fun exploration of this cornerstone of Canadian…Find out more »
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…Find out more »
In this unpredictable, enjoyable workshop, award-winning poet/fictioneer Stuart Ross encourages you to forget about “meaning” and “intention” and instead approach writing as a journey into a laboratory filled with a mysterious mist, and crazy burbling and popping noises you don’t quite recognize. Stuart leads you through four or five lively and fun poetry and prose projects, and what you write will surprise — and perhaps bewilder — even you! Join Stuart for this exploration into the wild possibilities of language.…Find out more »
Prizewinning playwright and novelist Damian Tarnopolsky leads a masterclass on scene construction. We’ll examine the essentials of writing great scenes in various genres, looking at some classic examples for tips on pacing, motivation, turning points, characterization, and crafting dialogue that crackles and hums. As well as getting to grips with the elements that make fictional and dramatic scenes work, we'll write and share some great scenes of our own. Sir John A Macdonald Room, Holiday Inn 12:30 – 3:00 pm Door $40 / $38 SeniorFind out more »
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:…Find out more »
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.…Find out more »
Author Erika Behrisch Elce explains techniques to develop richly-imagined and believable characters. Whether your character is fully fictional, based on an historical figure, or the poetic voice, good groundwork and thoughtful choices give your characters depth. Learn how research can be a great tool that delivers unexpected and surprising details that make characters spring off the page, and in a short written exercise, experiment with bringing a character’s voice to life. Limited enrolment. Residence Inn, St. Lawrence Ballroom 3:30 –…Find out more »
***SOLD OUT*** 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…Find out more »
*SOLD OUT* Gather your friends and hit the town for this original and entertaining night of literature and libations. Join a group of intrepid bibliophiles and a half-dozen authors of poetry, comedic memoir, and prose on a trek to some of Kingston’s finest watering holes. The evening is designed with ample time to settle in, order an appetizer or beverage, and take in a pair of literary readings and performances at each stop. Author Q&A and book signing at final…Find out more »
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. Media sponsor: Corus Entertainment Kingston In celebration of…Find out more »
Poet Tanis Macdonald explores the questions: what is the action of being here now? How does the past inform the present? where “here” is subject to your own definition, and “history,” is your lived experience of place. Using sample pieces of writing as a model, you write a piece about place to share with the class, then begin again, adding a new approach or piece of information that occurred to you as you presented or that was prompted by the…Find out more »
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,…Find out more »
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…Find out more »
What happens when you gather people around at a long table for a delicious meal served family-style? Storytelling, of course, and lots of it. And connection. Break bread with professor of nutrition, chef, and food blogger (ameliaeats.com) Amy Symington for a delectable spread of “I-can’t-believe-it’s-veggie” dishes, served at a long table, family style, After the meal, Amy chats with fellow food blogger, Kate Kristiansen. Bring your appetites and your friends for this one-of-a-kind food event! Cash bar. Media Sponsor: Edible…Find out more »
Images have the power of saying a lot with a little. In this class, educator, entrepreneur, and creative Claire Bouvier shows you the importance of light and darkness when telling a story and how to use different perspectives to emotionally connect with your audience. After a brief outdoor photography expedition, an exploratory opportunity to take photographs as part of the class, Claire brings you back inside and guides you through the creation of complimentary text to enrich your visuals. Limited enrolment. Sir John…Find out more »
Award-winning author Rabindranath Maharaj helps you get your work ready for publication, as he takes you through various subjects, including understanding your audience, matching length and style to genre and topic, and checking for continuity of description, timeline, language, and theme. Robin explains the critical refining decisions that lead to a viable final draft, encourages group discussion, and allows thirty minutes for quiet writing time, during which he offers individual focused feedback. Residence Inn, St. Lawrence Ballroom 12:30 – 3:00 pm Door $40 / $38…Find out more »
“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…Find out more »
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…Find out more »
A hit every year! Come celebrate emerging local talent with a set of energizing, provocative, and powerful spoken-word performances. Headlined by Kingston’s own verbal powerhouse Allison Chisholm, Toronto spoken-word poet Abena Beloved Green, and Poetry in Voice artist Cyrena Fiel, this event promises to make you see the world in a different way – maybe more than once! Follow the signs or ask for directions to the Garden at the Holiday Inn, and remember to bring a lawn chair to this…Find out more »
Author/ yoga teacher Kirsteen MacLeod helps you harness yoga’s power, free up your writing, and feed your creative flame. Gentle yoga poses, suitable for almost everyone, provide a jumping-off point for writing exercises. The body-centred process teaches you to work with less effort, generate new material intuitively, and apply new skills to advance your writing projects. Please bring your yoga mat and tools for writing by hand, or use provided mats/supplies onsite. All levels of writing and physical ability welcome. Relax,…Find out more »
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 of the Toronto Public Library, as they discuss the capacity…Find out more »
*Tickets for this event are now SOLD OUT. A small number of tickets may be available at the door 10 minutes before the event start time. There is no waiting list. You must be in line for a chance to get a door ticket. Join Kingston WritersFest for a special evening event featuring Canadian OB/GYN, women's health advocate and New York Times columnist Jen Gunter. In a reading and conversation with Ashley Waddington, Jen will discuss her new book The Vagina Bible, a…Find out more »
*Advance ticket sales have now ended. Tickets are available at the door for $25* Join Kingston WritersFest for our final event of the 2019 season featuring award-winning author, journalist, and human rights activist Sally Armstrong. Sally will present her new book Power Shift: The Longest Revolution, the subject of her 2019 CBC Massey Lecture. Sally illustrates how the status of the female half of humanity is crucial to our collective surviving and thriving. Drawing on anthropology, social science, literature, politics,…Find out more »
Join Kingston WritersFest, the Queen's Student Experience Office, and Stauffer Library for a special offseason Queen’s Reads event featuring author Tima Kurdi as she discusses her book The Boy on the Beach. The Boy on the Beach is an intimate and poignant memoir about the family of Alan Kurdi—a young Syrian boy who became the global emblem for the desperate plight of millions of Syrian refugees—and of the many extraordinary journeys the Kurdis have taken, spanning countries and continents. The…Find out more »
FESTIVAL TICKET INFO + PRICES 2019
Want more info?
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):
General Admission $20 Adv/$22 Fest; Senior $18 Pre/$20 Fest
Festival Field Trip
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.