Sunday 8 August 2021

Write on Bowen Festival

Raindrops sparkled on fruit trees and mist aspirated from the surrounding forest while writers gathered at the van Berckel orchard. Saturday, August 7, 2021 was the first day of the Write on Bowen Festival, a group started by Carol M. Cram and Jacqueline Massey in 2008. 

Attendees were invited to register for one of three writing workshops offered by poet Susan Alexander, novelist Carol M. Cram, and writer and UBC teacher, Deb Blenkhorn. I selected fellow fiction-writer, Carol M. Cram's incredible session on Finding Inspiration. In our cozy group of eight writers, we learned a bit about Carol's writing journey and practices, and dove into some fun and inspiring writing exercises. Here's one of the pieces these exercises inspired for me:

Whenever Deena saw the blue bicycle in the corner of her one bedroom loft, a little bit of her soul collapsed. She'd mean to ride it everyday through the crowded streets of  Vancouver, but she hadn't counted on the chronic rain. Or the seven flights of stairs and the "No Bicycles" sign in the elevator. Or the dogs that barked at cyclists in the street.

It was to be her ticket to health and freedom - making her a local in her new community. Three years later, she tried to repurpose the wide-handled behemoth. She hung bags from the handle bars, placed a plant on the seat and arranged books in the wire basket like Martha Stewart on the cover of her magazine. But it was all like wiping concealer on a protruding zit - there was no way to disguise her lack of courage.

Our group was fun, encouraging, curious, and creative. I look forward to reconnecting via email through Carol's offer to have us submit our "homework" short story assignment.

After our session, we were welcomed to explore the gardens and enjoy refreshments, including fresh figs straight from the garden dotted with soft cheese. 

We gathered again to enjoy readings from talented six Bowen writers: poets, Susan Alexander and Daniel Cowper, novelists Carol M. Cram and Edye Hanen, Travel Writer Kami Kanetsuka, and filmmaker and podcaster Daniela Sorrentino.
Susan Alexander

Daniel Cowper

Carol M. Cram

Edye Hanen

Kami Kanetsuka with M.C. David Cameron

Daniela Sorrentino
I was grateful for the opportunity to attend such a well-organized, encouraging, and welcoming Writers Festival within walking distance of my home. Consummate art-enthusiasts and gardeners, David and Aubin van Berkel were gracious and supportive hosts and their property was the perfect setting for this wonderful writing event. Thank you Carol M. Cram and Jacqueline Massey for putting together this lovely weekend. I'm already looking forward to next year!

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