After the snowstorm that hit St. John’s on January 21, the Sparks Literary Festival organizers had to postpone the event to February 5.
Sparks is a daylong celebration of creative writing in all genres. This year, the Festival is positioning itself in direct opposition to the now infamous provincial book tax. Stickers that say “Literacy is not a luxury” and “Tax junk food, not brain food” will be available, and the organizers are encouraging people to send pictures of their book sale receipts to Premier Ball.
The 2017 line-up mostly features writers from the province, including veterans like Mary Dalton and Michael Crummey, as well as graduate students from the English Department, with support from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Because of the rescheduling, there have been some changes to the roster. Justin Brake, Eva Crocker, Phillipa Jones, Bridget Canning and Amy Donovan will be reading but Colin Barrett, Shannon Webb Campbell, Kim Thuy and Tracey Waddleton will no longer present. Most of the day’s program is made up of readings, but there will also be a panel on writing about place. As usual, the winners of the Sparks Poetry Competition and the Sparks Creative Writing Award will be announced in the final session of the day.
The benefit of putting local writers at the festival forefront is not only that they have better chances of traveling to MUN regardless of the weather, but the focus on Newfoundland and Labrador authors positions local literature as an integral part of our culture. It reminds us of what we have to lose. Considering their lack of $upport from the government, it is clear this is an especially important time to stand by our writers. Events like Sparks help to galvanize the province’s literary scene. Besides that, there is nothing like a day of well-put words to help a person cope with dreary weather and drearier politics.
Sparks Literary Festival takes place in the Suncor Energy Hall in the M.O Morgan Music Building on February 5 from 11 am to 6 pm.