Growing Room Festival 101 for Procrastinators

Posted by 
Kayi Wong

In the words of our Festival Director, Arielle Spence, “Growing Room is a celebration, a protest, a reflection, a re-envisioning, a gathering, a question, and a dream. It is the culmination of forty years of hard work and creativity and the start of a new era.” If you're eager to attend but uncertain where to begin, we understand; when the festival was conceptualized two years ago, we did not foresee organizing a five-day festival with twenty-five panels, workshops, readings, and special events, involving over fifty emerging and established writers and artists.

Most writing workshops (and a few panels, readings, and special events) are now registered to their full capacity, but fret not—I present to you a last-minute guide to being a part of the inaugural Growing Room Festival.

  • Two special events do not require pre-registration! “Perfect Pairings: Food and Wine, Poetry and Prose” is the launch party for our latest issue around the theme of food at Cartems Donuterie on Main Street on Saturday evening. “To My Family with Love: An Intergenerational Writing Workshop with Fiona Tinwei Lam” is the only writing workshop we are offering that does not require pre-registration. So bring a parent, sibling, grandparent, or child to VPL on Sunday morning and create a lasting, literary memory with your family. No writing experience required, and open to all ages. Individuals are encouraged to attend.
  • There's no waitlists for sold out events, but a limited number of seats have been reserved for walk-ups (with priority given to elders and disabled people). Arrive early, and we'll do our best to get you in. However, without registering for an event, seating cannot be guaranteed.
  • Sold-out events could possibly be available online again, if and when registered attendees cancel their tickets on Eventbrite. So check back from time to time if you're really keen on a particular event.

Suggested Itinerary

If you're still overwhelmed by our programs, here is a suggested itinerary for the week ahead, featuring events that are still available at the time this blog post is published. All events can be registered simultaneously on our Eventbrite page. Technology!

Wednesday | March 8th

Launch Party for Making Room: Forty Years of Room Magazine
7 p.m. til late | $10 cover | The Fox Cabaret
On March 8th, join Room magazine as we celebrate International Women’s Day and the launch of Making Room: Forty Years of Room Magazine with a cocktail reception at The Fox Cabaret. Mingle with Growing Room authors, enjoy delectable appetizers by Alitura Catering, and take a moment to write someone (or yourself) a “Feminist Love Note” to inspire the next forty years of activism, writing, and love. With a live performance by the soulful pop group Sister Says.

Friday | March 10th

Caitlin Press 40th Anniversary Celebration
7 p.m. til late | Free Entry | Taste Lounge at Fivesixty, 560 Seymour Street
Join us in celebrating forty years of feminist publishing with Caitlin Press, and come wish their new imprint, Dagger Editions, a happy first birthday. Mingle with the publishing staff, Room magazine editors, and local authors. Browse Caitlin Press’ vast selection of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, available for purchase.

Saturday | March 11th

Myths and Legends
Ali Blythe, Hiromi Goto, Rachel Hartman, Aislinn Hunter, Jennifer Zilm
March 11, 10:30am–12:00pm | Free | SchoolCreative @ 112 E 3rd Ave
Whether we like it or not, myths and legends shape our lives. These stories, which are part of the foundation of our cultures, can be a source of inspiration or restriction as we are pressured to fit into pre-determined archetypes. Ali Blythe, Jennifer Zilm, Aislinn Hunter, Rachel Hartman, and Hiromi Goto share passages from their latest works about connecting with community through shared stories, bucking tradition, and writing new myths for the 21st century.

BFFFs—Best Fictional Friends Forever
Carleigh Baker, Adèle Barclay, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Nilofar Shidmehr
March 11, 3:30pm–5:00pm | Free | SchoolCreative @ 112 E 3rd Ave
Friendship, like love, is complicated. From the politics of who you gave the other half of your “Best Friends Forever” bracelet to in grade three, to long-distance friendships, to “Friends with Benefits,” friendships can be as tricky to manage as any relationship. When it works, though, friendship can transform us. Explore a range of friendships (from the sublime to the toxic) with writers Carleigh Baker, Adèle Barclay, Nilofar Shidmehr, and Jane Eaton Hamilton. But if YA is what you want to think about . . .

Leading by Example: What We Can Learn from YA
Hiromi Goto, Rachel Hartman, Carrie Mac, Kellee Ngan | Moderator: Meghan Bell
March 11, 3:30pm–5:00pm | Free | Multipurpose Room #2 @ Creekside Community Centre
Often derided in the media for not being “real literature,” young adult literature—and the writers who create it—are at the forefront of the conversation about diversity in publishing. With the popularity of the We Need Diverse Books (#WeNeedDiverseBooks) campaign, and the development of publishing initiatives that focus on representing all teenagers, young adult lit, or “YA,” could teach the rest of CanLit a thing or two. Join four authors who’ve found success in writing for the YA audience as they share what this genre can teach writers, editors and publishers of all types.

Sunday | March 12th

Writing in (the) Community
Leah Horlick, Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Audrey Thomas | Moderator: Amber Dawn
March 12, 10:30am–12:00pm | Free | Multipurpose Room #2 @ Creekside Community Centre
In his acceptance speech for the National Book Award in 2016, Colson Whitehead said, “Be kind to everybody, make art, and fight the power.” Writing of all kinds has always been central to the fight against systemic oppression and injustice—and now, more than ever. As we move forward into an uncertain future, and fight to have our voices heard, writers and community activators Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Leah Horlick, Amber Dawn, and Audrey Thomas discuss writing against the grain and creating spaces for everyone to speak their truth.

Character Development: Writing About Pregnancy and Parenthood
Marianne Apostolides, Nicole Breit, Cynthia Flood, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Audrey Thomas
March 12, 3:30pm–5:00pm | Free | Multipurpose Room #2 @ Creekside Community Centre
Writing about the topic of pregnancy and parenthood is just as varied as the people who become pregnant and/or parents, and explores the full gamut of human emotion. Marianne Apostolides, Nicole Breit, Audrey Thomas, Cynthia Flood, and Fiona Tinwei Lam have written about pregnancy and parenthood extensively through the years—and to much acclaim. Join us as they give us a glimpse of the various facets of this simultaneously very private, and very public, experience. But if you're up for some poetry . . .

Poetry Free For All
Cyndia Cole, Junie Désil, Leah Horlick, Jónína Kirton, Chelene Knight, Evelyn Lau, Alex Leslie, Alessandra Naccarato, Beni Xiao
March 12, 3:30pm–5:00pm | Free | Multipurpose Room #4 @ Creekside Community Centre
Don’t read much poetry? That’ll change after this event. Say hello to nine of Vancouver’s most inspiring poets as they take to the stage for a feminist poetry extravaganza. These wordsmiths will take you to far away places, and reveal the secrets of the human heart, with a kaleidoscopic array of verse that spans various genres and styles.


Additional Tips

  • Between events at Creekside Community Centre, you can head over to Multipurpose Room #4 (located on the second floor) for the Book and Media Fair, or the Festival Bookstore between 10.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.. You will find local publishers, and university writing programs at the fair, and the latest books (some of them signed!) from the festival authors at the bookstore.
  • While you're heading to the next venue, make a stop at our festival bar, Big Rock Urban Brewery & Eatery, for some beer, and grub. Page six of the festival program guide gets you 15% off your bill during festival weekend.
  • Check out the Growing Room Art Gallery after attending an event at The Art Gallery @ 24 West 4th Avenue. Previous art contributors of Room will be exhibiting a selection of their original artworks, one of which will require your help in its completion.
  • Look for one of our volunteers selling raffle tickets. You heard it here first. Thanks to our generous sponsors, there are a few serious bundles of prizes to be won. I'm jealous of anyone who aren't forbidden from participating in the draw.

Growing Room takes place on the unceded Coast Salish Territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish people. For more information about the festival, visit our website or Eventbrite page. Or grab a program guide at one of our venues. See you at #GrowingRoom2017!

Kayi Wong is an editorial board member at Room magazine. She recently co-edited issue 40.1 "Food", and was the assistant editor for 39.1 "Women of Colour" and 38.2 "How We Relate." 

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