SPARKing a third edition
By Janet Harron
Sunday Jan. 22, 2012, is the date the Newfoundland and Labrador reading community has been waiting for.
The third annual SPARKS Literary Festival will be held from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. in the Petro-Canada Hall, School of Music, with a reception following. Once again it will feature a who's who of Newfoundland and Labrador's writing community, among them some of the winners of this year's main literary awards, as well as talented students and graduates from Memorial University's creative writing program.
"The response we've had from the readers and the listeners is exactly what I was hoping for when I first conceived of SPARKS," said festival director and English faculty member Mary Dalton. "The gathering of people in a festive atmosphere to celebrate the written word, the literary creations of Newfoundland and Labrador and the role of Memorial University in the writing life of the province is just what SPARKS was designed to do."
Professor Dalton established the festival in 2009 with the support of then-Dean of Arts Dr. Reeta Tremblay.
In the 2012 incarnation of SPARKS, Russell Wangersky, who appeared at the inaugural festival, will read from his novel The Glass Harmonica and winner of this year's Winterset Award.
"It's the kind of festival writers live for — rooms full of readers, questions with bite, rapt audiences quiet enough to hear a pin drop — I'm happy to be there any time I'm asked," he said.
Among the readers is another recent award-winner, Lesleyanne Ryan, an English graduate who has just won the Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers.
The festival is organized into four major sessions, each of which will feature readings in a variety of genres, followed by discussion with the audience.
Participating authors are Frank Barry, Mark Callanan, Danielle Devereaux, Marjorie Doyle, John Ennis, Jamie Fitzpatrick, Joel Thomas Hynes, Stephanie McKenzie, Edward Riche, Lesleyanne Ryan, Stephanie Trevorrow, Leslie Vryenhoek, Agnes Walsh, Russell Wangersky, Patrick Warner and Shoshanna Wingate.
A vital element of the festival is the presence of book and journal displays reflecting the variety of ways in which literature is produced in Newfoundland and Labrador, including letterpress and audiobook productions.
SPARKS 2012 is once again sponsoring a haiku competition, open to all; the winner will be announced during the final session of the festival. This year's festival also has some new features. In addition to the previously announced $2,500 Cox & Palmer Literary Award at today.mun.ca/news.php?news_id=6652, a limited edition print entitled Candle Burning, featuring a linocut image and last year's award-winning haiku, will be available for sale at the event with proceeds going to support the festival.
An evening reception will follow the day-long event and books and other materials will be available for sale. A lunchroom will be provided for the use of audience members between 12-1 p.m. and food will be available for purchase. Admission is free. Parking (at no charge) will be available in Lot 15B.
Further details on the festival and a complete schedule can be found at www.mun.ca/arts/events/SPARKS_2012.php. An active Facebook page is also available at www.facebook.com/sparksliteraryfestival2012.