Write on! Emerging writers at Ideafest

Guest post by Kim Dias

Ideafest is UVic’s weeklong festival celebrating art, science, and creativity. For the past three years, as part of Ideafest, the writing department has hosted a reading by that year’s grad students. Tonight, I attended “Write on: A night out with new writers”, and if I caught a glimpse of the future of Canada’s literary world, then the future is bright.

The evening’s readers were grad students Taylor Houghton, Tom Prime, Miles Steyn, Vaughn Gaston, and Janet Munsil. I’m an undergrad in writing and tonight made me feel so deeply privileged to be a member of the department.

Each graduate was introduced by their thesis advisor, and between the bios of the graduates and their advisors, there were a million publications, awards, and nominations mentioned. It constantly astonishes me how many eminent writers are associated with UVic’s writing program, whether professors, graduates, or oftentimes both.

I loved seeing how unique each graduate’s voice was in their work. It’s one of my favourite things about the writing department, actually—we are always encouraged to find our own voice rather than the voices of those around us.

My personal favourite reader of the night was Gaston, who read excerpts from a short story of his that started off as humourous, then grew more and more unnerving as the piece gained momentum. Another favourite was Munsil, whose stage play had a monologue that made me laugh and tugged at my heart at the same time.

There was so much talent in the room at tonight’s reading, but it wasn’t just the talent that stood out to me. There was also so much support. The literary world is intensely competitive, but there wasn’t even a hint of that tonight. Everyone present—whether graduate, professor, or audience member—was there to support the readers.

That’s another thing that’s fantastic about UVic’s writing department—we’re in a very competitive field, but even as we individually write, edit, and submit to journals and competitions, we also have a deeply supportive network at our backs. That network, that feeling of writers supporting writers, is one of the most important things I’ve gained over the course of my degree.

Write on.

Ideafest ends on March 9. If you missed this reading, the UVic author celebration is happening at 2:00pm on March 7 in the bookstore. UVic authors Jason M. Colby, Patrick Friesen, Bill Gaston, and Lynne Marks will be on a discussion panel which is sure to be funny, heartwarming, and incredibly interesting. If this author could skip class to attend, she would.

You can find a full list of Ideafest events here.

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