Joseph A. Dandurand is a Kwantlen First Nation writer. (Langley Advance Times File Photo)

Indigenous poet and NYT bestseller to read at Electric Mermaid

Electric Mermaid: Live Reads from Char's Landing takes place online via Zoom on Friday, May 21

The next Electric Mermaid live reading event will feature Indigenous poet Joseph Dandurand and New York Times best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard.

Joseph “Tony” Dandurand will be the first featured writer at Electric Mermaid: Live Reads from Char’s Landing online via Zoom on Friday, May 21 at 5:45 p.m.

Dandurand is a member of Kwantlen First Nation on the Fraser River. He is the director of the Kwantlen Cultural Centre and a poet, playwright and author.

His books include I Will Be Corrupted, SH:LAM (The Doctor), I Want, Hear and Foretell, Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish, The Rumour and The Sasquatch, the Fire and the Cedar Baskets.

Dandurand has been writing for 30 years.

“I first began to write monologues as I was at theater school and wanting to be a stage actor,” he said. “I then found poetry and then I wrote my first chapbook of poems. From then on I have been writing and publishing books of poetry and producing plays and I have also begun to write short stories for children, as I now teach in school. I think if I could ever describe my writing it would be that it is full of sorrow, but somewhere in there I try and try to leave a glimmer of hope or understanding of hope.”

His work is tinged with the sadness and loneliness he has experienced in a life sometimes punctuated with violence, abuse, drugs and alcohol. Dandurand takes great comfort in his three children.

“[They] are my life and everything I do—every book, every moment of my craft—is for them,” he said.

Electric Mermaid host Derek Hanebury said readers of all backgrounds will enjoy Dandurand’s engaging style.

“His advice to other writers is wonderful, and good for during the pandemic and after,” Hanebury said.

New York Times best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard will also be a featured reader on Friday.

Mitchard is the author of The Deep End of the Ocean, Two If By Sea and a host of other books. She enjoys a writing career highlighted by having the first book ever chosen by the Oprah Book Club. She has also had a best-seller made into a movie with The Deep End of the Ocean.

“Stories have the same power over me that they have over people who are devoted readers,” said Mitchard. “Stories are the way we understand the world and ourselves. For me, telling those stories is like reading them. I’m experiencing them as a storyteller in much the same way, with that same curiosity and emotion. Further, my writing is communication with other people, a way of reaching out.”

A mother of nine, Mitchard said she writes stories about people who seem ordinary, but this is deceptive.

“These are people you might already know but they are caught in circumstances that are harrowing, even desperate, and they have only one chance to find a way out,” she said. “These aren’t suspense stories in the classic definition of the word, but there is suspense and mystery attached to them. You have to find out what happens to these people who didn’t ask for this fate…and I guess that’s why you turn the page.”

Her advice to writers is to pay attention to the people around them.

“Describe to yourself how they speak, what they eat, their habits and quirks,” she said. “Read more books — you really do have time for it. Read widely, in fiction and in non-fiction, old books and new. Go back and read something you read when you were 17.”

Writers who would like to read their own work in the curated open mic can sign up at for a spot of up to five minutes.

Attendees can go to and click on the link to the Electric Mermaid to go to the Zoom link for the event.

Alberni Valley News


Jacquelyn Mitchard is a New York Times bestselling author. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)