Community Papers

COLUMN: A garden of words makes a great harvest

The gala reading on Saturday night features award-winner novelist Donna Morrissey. - File Photo
The gala reading on Saturday night features award-winner novelist Donna Morrissey.
— image credit: File Photo

I’m worried about my garden next week. That’s because I plan to be soaking up words while my tomatoes are soaking up the sun. There is so much going on, I may need to train the dogs to wield the watering can. It’s hard to be a literary lover sometimes. You may feel the same way.

Get your calendars out for all the literary lovelies coming out next week, starting with a poetry double header Monday, July 7 at 7 p.m. at Booksmyth with Vancouver’s Lawrence Feuchtwanger and his hot-off-the-press Refugee Song, reading with Nelson’s Ernest Hekkanen.

On Tuesday July 8 at 7 p.m. we have Padma Viswanathan here at the Library, a not-to-be-missed reading by the author of The Toss of a Lemon and The Ever After of Aswin Rao — a novel about the Air India bombing and its aftermath. Viswanathan is a Canadian by birth now living in Arkansas, but we’re celebrating the author’s ethnic roots by serving up pakoras made by our own Baba’s restaurant. Twice the literary deliciousness!

You’ll get one day off to water your garden, and then Elephant Mountain Literary Festival kicks off. I love our little festival for its up-close-and-personal nature coupled with literary luminaries, beginning Thursday night with an opening social event featuring local and visiting writers.

Friday night features presentations by mystery writer Gail Bowen and CBC Radio host of Writer’s & Company Eleanor Wachtel at the Capitol. Who doesn’t love mysteries? Who doesn’t love the CBC?

Saturday morning there’s a mystery panel with Bowen and Nelson’s Deryn Collier, a panel on indigenous publishing in Canada, and a youth storytelling workshop. There’s also a self-publishing presentation with industry insider Craig Shemilt on Sunday morning.

On Saturday afternoon, longtime publisher of Canadian literary greats Douglas Gibson brings his roadshow to the Civic Theatre at 2 p.m. Gibson has published Robertson Davies, W.O. Mitchell, Mavis Gallant and many more, and listening to his stories is almost as good as seeing these greats in person (and for some of them, a trip to the Beyond would be required anyway). Gibson famously told Alice Munro to keep writing short stories—and we know where that went.

The gala reading on Saturday night with mountain man Sid Marty, Canada Reads finalist Angie Abdou, and award-winner novelist Donna Morrissey is a chance to ask those burning questions: how does Sid Marty wrestle bears while strumming his guitar and writing poetry? How closely do the characters in The Canterbury Trail resemble real Fernie folk? And if you take the Newfoundlander out of Newfoundland, can you take Newfoundland out of the Newfoundlander?

See our book display across from the circulation desk, and get tickets at

While in town, Donna Morrissey will teach a fiction workshop at the Library on Sunday afternoon. Donna’s a lot of fun, and folks will go away inspired, invigorated, and ready to write the great Canadian novel that will take them to the next festival and onto the stage. Pre-register by emailing

Once you get through all of this you can—yes—water your garden again and pick some of that bolting spinach. And then you have to get busy. Because the Kootenay Book Weekend is coming up September 19 – 21, and there are books to be read!

Under discussion are Will Ferguson’s 419, The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Sierstad, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozecki, and the Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys, who is this year’s guest author. Go to for all the details.

Clearly, I’d better come up with a reading plan. And maybe a watering plan, too.


— Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to

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