The crowd has gathered early, the fans are packed in, pressed against
the stage. Those in the back push forward, those in the front struggle to
even breathe. Under glow of lights amidst the whir of cameras and thunder
of hands clapping someone takes the stage. Who is it? A rock star? A movie
star? Nope, it's a writer and this is a literary festival. Although this
scene is a
slight exaggeration, and fans usually aren't pressed up against the stage
crying themselves senseless, literary festivals have become a place where
everyone is welcome.
Literary festivals allow the writer to move away from pen and paper, from computer to reader. It gives them a chance to perform the work that
audiences have grown to love. While the books of poems or newest novel may
be the ultimate meeting place between writer and reader, the literary
festival offers a chance to ask the writer questions. Festivals let the
writer take the stage and literally be heard.
The history of festivals in the province stretches back decades. Recently,
however, Calgary's Wordfest has grown significantly and is now the third
largest literary festival in the country. Major writers such as Margaret
Atwood, Mavis Gallant, Mordecai Richler and Louis de Bernières have been
featured. Edmonton currently looks after the poets of the province with
its Stroll of Poets festival, while the
Young Alberta Book Society
Festival makes sure that children are not left out.