Growing Room 2017

This is an archive page for the 2017 Growing Room Festival

March 8-12, 2017
Vancouver, BC (unceded Coast Salish territories) 

The Growing Room Festival is Room magazine’s inaugural literary festival, a celebration of diverse Canadian writers and artists.

IMPORTANT: Some venue locations have changed. Please scroll down to check the locations of your events, or check EventBrite.

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Festival Line-Up
Event Schedule
      Pre-Festival Event

      Launch Party
      Thursday and Friday Evening Events
      Festival Weekend | PanelsReadingsWorkshopsSpecial Events
Venue Information
Registration Information
Media Releases
Get Involved
Sponsors and Partners


Amber Dawn, Marianne Apostolides, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Carleigh Baker, Adèle Barclay, Meghan Bell, Juliane Okot Bitek, Ali Blythe, Nicole Breit, Kat Cameron, Roxanne Charles, Cyndia Cole, Karla Comanda, Lorna Crozier, Francine Cunningham, Jen Currin, Dina Del Bucchia, Junie Désil, Samantha deVries-Hofman, Dora Dueck, barbara findlay, Cynthia Flood, Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Chantal Gibson, Hiromi Goto, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Rachel Hartman, Leah Horlick, Aislinn Hunter, June Hutton, Kyla Jamieson, Rachel Jansen, Vici Johnstone, Jónína Kirton, Chelene Knight, Sonnet L'Abbé, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Doretta Lau, Evelyn Lau, Jen Sookfong Lee, Alex Leslie, Christine Lowther, Carrie Mac, Tanis MacDonald, Alessandra Naccarato, Kellee Ngan, Nilofar Shidmehr, Sylvia Symons, Audrey Thomas, Betsy Warland, Beni Xiao, Jennifer Zilm, Daniel Zomparelli  

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EVENT SCHEDULE (Registration Available February 1)  

Pre-Festival Event: Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Room: A History of Canada’s Oldest Feminist Literary Magazine
Chelene Knight, Clélie Rich, Lana Okerlund, Cynthia Flood, Juliane Okot Bitek | Moderator: Taryn Hubbard

Alice McKay Room @ Vancouver Public Library—Central Branch | FREE

What does it take to publish Room magazine (formerly Room of One’s Own), one of Canada’s oldest and most distinguished literary magazines, and the country's oldest feminist magazine? Join a panel of Room’s editors and contributors for an illuminating and inspiring discussion about the forty-year history of Room and what’s next for this important publication.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 7:30pm - 10pm
Launch Party for Making Room: Forty Years of Room Magazine
The Fox Cabaret | $10 cover

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.

Thursday, March 9, 2017, 7:30pm - 10pm
Making Space for Women
Historic Joy Kogawa House (1450 West 64th Avenue) | Entry By Donation

Métis/Icelandic poet Jónína Kirton reads from An Honest Woman, poems that unravel norms of femininity and sexuality. Author Meredith Quartermain reads from U Girl, a novel set in Vancouver in 1972. With songs of unity through diversity by Rogue Choir, in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Friday, March 10, 2017, 7:00pm - Late
Caitlin Press 40th Anniversary Celebration
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. 

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Saturday, March 11 - Sunday, March 12, 2017, 10am - 9pm

Download Schedule-at-a-Glance  

Panels | Readings | Workshops | Special Events

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The Only Way Out is Through: Writing About Trauma
Evelyn Lau, Christine Lowther, Sonnet L'Abbé | Moderator: Elee Kraljii Gardiner
March 11, 10:30am–12:00pm | Free | Multipurpose Room #2 @ Creekside Community Centre

Many of us seek to escape the traumatic memories that haunt us—to heal and move on from the things that have happened to us. Could writing be a way through? Many recommend writing as a method of healing from trauma, but it’s easier said than done. Join Evelyn Lau, Christine LowtherSonnet L'Abbé, and Elee Kraljii Gardiner for a powerful discussion about sitting with your memories and leaving it all on the page.

Literary Gatekeepers and Accountability
Carleigh Baker, Meghan Bell, Karla Comanda, Kyla Jamieson, Vici Johnstone | Moderator: Dina Del Bucchia
March 11, 1:00pm–2:30pm | Free | The Art Gallery @ 24 West 4th Avenue

The concept of ‘accountability’ in the literary arts has become a hot-button topic, inspiring thousands of tweets, articles, and conversations. And yet, the concept of accountability can be surprisingly difficult to pin down: What does it mean to have the power to publish someone? What role does a literary organization play in the fight against injustice? Following short presentations from representatives from local literary magazines and publishers, we’ll open up the floor for a townhall-style discussion to start envisioning what accountability in the literary arts looks like. 

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.

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.

Reflecting on our Reflections
Juliane Okot Bitek, Francine Cunningham, Nilofar Shidmehr, Lorna Crozier | Moderator: Aislinn Hunter
March 12, 10:30am–12:00pm | Free | SchoolCreative @ 112 E 3rd Ave

Compared to the heavily-photoshopped fashion magazines that line the aisles at grocery stores, we might not think of literature as a source of messaging about women’s appearances. But, just like any form of media, the novels, short stories, and poetry we read can be infused with patriarchy and racism. At the same time, our writing can be a place where ideas of beauty and self-image, can be broken apart and remade anew. Juliane Okot Bitek, Nilofar Shidmehr, Francine Cunningham, and Lorna Crozier share their experience of rewriting the stories we tell about our bodies.

The Here and Now 
Carleigh Baker, Aislinn Hunter, June Hutton, Christine Lowther | Moderator: Tanis MacDonald
March 12, 3:30pm–5:00pm | Free | SchoolCreative @ 112 E 3rd Ave

How do you capture the character of a particular time and place? The stories in Carleigh Baker’s debut collection explore Vancouver and the surrounding wilds; June Hutton’s novel takes place in a 1920s mining town; Aislinn Hunter intertwines the lives of an archivist in present day London and a woman who went missing in the 1870s; and Christine Lowther’s memoir Born out of This is “steeped in the immense beauty of the coastal rainforest.” Join them as they discuss writing about the present moment, or reflecting on a bygone era, and how the two approaches may not be that different. 

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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.

Funny Feminists
Elizabeth Bachinsky, Lorna Crozier, Dina Del Bucchia, Doretta Lau, Beni Xiao
March 11, 3:30pm–5:00pm | Free | Multipurpose Room #4 @ Creekside Community Centre

“Feminists can’t take a joke?” I don’t know, dude—maybe your jokes just suck. Get ready for an afternoon of hilarity as five of B.C.’s funniest writers—Dina Del Bucchia, Lorna Crozier, Doretta Lau, Elizabeth Bachinsky, and Beni Xiao—take to the stage and show us how feminist comedy is done. By the end of this event, you’ll have a new appreciation for the power of comedic writing to surprise and delight—not to mention, convey powerful messages about injustice.

Just Try to Stop Me
Juliane Okot Bitek, barbara findlay, Doretta Lau, Christine Lowther, Alessandra Naccarato, June Hutton
March 12, 1:00pm–2:30pm | Free | Multipurpose Room #2 @ Creekside Community Centre

When the odds are against you, and everyone’s telling you to quit, what do you do? Do you give in to fate, to social expectations, to fear—or do you keep fighting?  Meet six writers who, in their careers, their personal lives, and through their writing, have done the unexpected, taken on seemingly impossible challenges, and inspired others to do the same. Spanning different genres, historical periods, and forms of injustice, these readings will leave you fired up and ready to fight the power.

[Insert Innuendo Here]
Amber Dawn, Dina Del Bucchia, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Kellee Ngan, Jen Sookfong Lee
March 12, 1:00pm–2:30pm | Free | SchoolCreative @ 112 E 3rd Ave

As the winners of the “Bad Sex in Fiction” award highlight each year, writing about sex can be tricky. The wrong euphemism for a body part, a move that defies the laws of physics—and you’ve lost your readers. But there’s no need to worry about any of that here. Five accomplished writers take us between the sheets (and between the pages), with hilarious, romantic, and steamy readings that embrace the messiness of sex, relationships, and everything in between.

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.  

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. 

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The Prose Poem with Jen Currin
March 11, 10:00am–12:30pm | Cost: $15 per person | The Boardroom @ 24 West 4th Avenue 

Perched between poetry and prose, the prose poem occupies a tricky space. It is genre-bending by nature, often musical and densely imagistic. The prose poem encourages flights of fancy, surrealist moments, dreams, wordplay, circular arguments. In this two-and-a-half hour workshop, we will practise writing prose poems, and read and discuss some of the best this genre has to offer. Open to writers of all levels.

writing white*: questioning privilege with barbara findlay
March 11, 1:30pm–5:00pm | Cost: $15 per person | The Boardroom @ 24 West 4th Avenue

*or able-bodied, or employed, or male, or cisgender, or non-immigrant, or sheltered, or raised christian or . . . any other position of privilege

All of us experience oppression with respect to some parts of our identity, and privilege with respect to other parts. One of the features of privilege is that it is the part we don’t (have to) notice because we are, with respect to that part, part of the norm. In this experiential workshop we will look at how the privileged parts of our identities affect us as writers.

Creative Non-Fiction with Marianne Apostolides
March 12, 10:00am–12:30pm | Cost: $30 per person—includes one copy of The Voluptuous Pleasure by Marianne Apostolides
The Boardroom @ 24 West 4th Avenue

Dive into creative non-fiction with Marianne Apostolides. Together you’ll explore the unique pitfalls and opportunities inherent to the genre; techniques a writer can use to optimize the qualities of the genre; fundamental aspects of narrative; and practical strategies for starting (and maintaining) a writing practice. Open to writers of all levels.

Optional: if you are currently developing a CNF essay or story, submit a partial draft (max 2,000 words) to by Tuesday, February 28, 2017 to receive feedback from Marianne Apostolides during the workshop.

The Finishing Touches with Betsy Warland
March 12, 1:30pm–4:00pm | Cost: $15 per person | The Boardroom @ 24 West 4th Avenue

Two of a writer’s most vexing questions are: “Is it finished” and “Who’ll publish it?” Because these two questions arise throughout our writing lives it’s important to find how to navigate them. Learn a method of determining: whether it’s finished (or not); which publication is the best fit; top reasons publishers reject or accept work; and how to give publishers a context for your work. The respected option of self or independent publishing, as an interim or final option, will also be discussed. Open to writers of all levels. 

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Words and Pictures (Artist Talk / Presentation) 
Elizabeth Bachinsky, Francine Cunningham, Chantal Gibson, Roxanne Charles, sab meynert

March 11, 1:00pm–2:30pm | Free | SchoolCreative @ 112 E 3rd Ave

Although this is a “literary” festival, most of the writers we know work in at least one other artistic medium—and we think it’s high-time to celebrate that! Art and writing are natural complements, and moving between different media can teach us so much about the other. Multi-talented creators Elizabeth Bachinsky, Francine Cunningham, Chantal Gibson, Roxanne Charles, and sab meynert each share their experience of moving between literary and visual worlds, and how artists can get their feet wet in other art forms. 

Perfect Pairings: Food and Wine, Prose and Poetry
Marianne Apostolides, Kat Cameron, Rachel Jansen, Sylvia Symons, Nicole Breit, Dora Dueck, Samantha deVries-Hofman, Beni Xiao, Tanis MacDonald

March 11, 7:00pm–9:30pm | Entry by Donation | Cartems Donuterie @ 2190 Main Street

Join Room at Cartems Donuterie for an exquisite evening that will feed both body and imagination. At this one-of-a-kind event, we’ll celebrate the launch of two recent issues: 39.4 “This Body’s Map” (edited by Chelene Knight) and 40.1 “Food” (edited by Kayi Wong and Rose Morris) with readings from local contributors, beer, wine, ice cream, and, of course, DOUGHNUTS! No registration required. 

To My Family, With Love: An Intergenerational Writing Workshop with Fiona Tinwei Lam
March 12, 10:30am–12:15pm | Free | Activity Room—Mount Pleasant Branch, Vancouver Public Library

As evidenced by the dedications of many books, families are a big part of our writing lives. Whether it’s reading our first drafts, cheering us on at readings, or helping us through writer’s block—our families (whether they be biological or chosen), are so important to our journey as writers. Join Fiona Tinwei Lam for a free, all-ages workshop celebrating family and writing. Invite your mother, your sibling, grandparent, or child to the library, and create a beautiful piece of prose or poetry for your family that they’ll cherish forever. 

No previous writing experience required. Open to all ages. Individuals also encouraged to attend. No pre-registration required.

Can’t Lit Live!
Dina Del Bucchia and Daniel Zomparelli with guests Juliane Okot Bitek and Leah Horlick
March 12, 7:00pm–9:00pm | Free entry, drinks by donation | The Art Gallery @ 24 West 4th Avenue

Can’t Lit is a podcast on “all things Canadian and Literature” created by Vancouver writers Dina Del Bucchia and Daniel Zomparelli. Each episode, the writers interview a Canadian writer about their latest book, the best (and worst) parts of being a writer, and the frustrations of dealing with the “CanLit” institution—with hilarious and irreverent results. After the success of their first live recording last fall, Can’t Lit is coming to Growing Room! Join Del Bucchia and Zomparelli for an evening of wit and literature as they chat with guests Juliane Okot Bitek and Leah Horlick

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Creekside Community Centre, Multipurpose Rooms 1, 2, and 4
1 Athlete’s Way, Vancouver

112 E 3rd Avenue @ Quebec Street, Vancouver

The Boardroom and The Art Gallery
24 West 4th Avenue @ Ontario Street, Vancouver

Vancouver Public Library—Mount Pleasant Branch
1 Kingsway Avenue, Vancouver

The Fox Cabaret
2321 Main Street, Vancouver

Cartems Donuterie
2190 Main Street, Vancouver

Growing Room takes place on the unceded Coast Salish Territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish people.


Creekside Community Centre, SchoolCreative, and 24 West 4th Avenue are easily accessible by transit, including the #84 and #3 bus routes and the Olympic Village Station on the Canada Line. Information on bus routes and schedules can be found at  

Paid parking is available at Creekside Community Centre for $2.75 per hour or $11.00 per day. There is also free street parking on West 4th Avenue, Ontario Street, and surrounding streets within a few blocks of 24 West 4th Avenue.


Creekside Community Centre:

Accessibility Overview:

Thank you to the Radical Access Mapping Project (RAMP) for their great work!

24 West 4th Ground Floor/The Boardroom: 

*Note, many of these doors will be propped open for the sake of the event. 

  • Front door to building: Double doors 35" wide each, swing inward. Vertical bar handles. Note: front doors at 3" off ground with no ramp.
  • 2nd Door (into foyer): Double doors 35" wide each, swing inward. Door handle height 39" 
  • 3rd Door (into hallway): 34.5" wide, swings outward. Door handle height 39". Note: there is a 3" high step once through the 3rd door into the hallway. 
  • 4th Door (into boardroom): 34" wide, swings inward. Door handle height 39" 

Groundfloor washroom is non-gendered. 

  • Washroom door 34.5" wide, swings inward. Handle height 39"
  • Washroom dimensions: 60" wide x 90" long
  • Distance between toilet and wall: 31"
  • Toilet height: 17" 
  • Sink height: 37" 

24 West 4th - The Art Gallery: 

This venue is wheelchair accessible. Unfortunately, we do not have exact measurements.

The Art Gallery washroom is non-gendered.

ASL Interpretation:
Due to a lack of requests, ASL Interpretation will not be available at Growing Room 2017.

Scent-Reduced Policy:
Help us keep Growing Room a scent-reduced space by skipping the perfume, scented shampoo, and other scented products during Festival Weekend.

Free childcare is available from 10:00am - 5:30pm on Saturday, March 11th and Sunday, March 12th at Creekside Community Centre. To take advantage of this service, please email with the following information:

  • Date and time when you’ll need childcare
  • Name of child
  • Age of child
  • Any food allergies or accessibility needs

Drop-in childcare is also available. Please visit the Growing Room Volunteer Table in Multipurpose Room # 4 at Creekside Community Centre prior to your events.

Additional Questions or Concerns?
Contact Arielle Spence, Festival Director, 

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Please register through EventBrite. If the event you wanted is sold out, there will be limited seats available at all events (with the exception of paid workshops) for walk-ups. Please arrive at least fifteen minutes before the event you want to attend if you don't have a ticket, and we'll do our best to seat you.

Register For Events  


January 11, 2017 | Room magazine announces author line-up for Growing Room


Download our Sponsorship Package
Download our Book and Media Fair Exhibitor Application
Download our Program Ad Rate Sheet

If you are interested in getting involved with the festival (as a sponsor, exhibitor, or in another capacity), contact Arielle Spence at festival [at] roommagazine [dot] com

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Making Room: Forty Years of Room Magazine is published thanks to the support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund's Business Innovations program:

Currently on Newsstands

  • Devour cover: Pink background with 3 arms. One each lighting a candle, holding a vibrator, holding a tea bag over a cup
    Room 43.2, Devour
    Edited by Jessica Johns

    In this issue:

    Manahil Bandukwala, Dessa Bayrock, Megan Beadle, Brandi Bird, lue boileau, Rachel Burlock, Justina Chong, Mollie Cronin, Marilyn Dumont, Edzi'u, Ashleigh Giffen, katia hernandez velasco, erica hiroko, Jessica Johns, Shaelyn Johnston, Yume Kitasei, Mica Lemiski, Jessie Loyer, Annick MacAskill, Callista Markotich, Sonali Menezes, Kai Minosh Pyle, Natasha Ramoutar, Carmina Ravanera, Rohsni Riar, Jessica Rose, Rowan Siah, Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch, Kelly S. Thompson, Arielle Twist, Phoebe Wang, Yu-Sen Zhou