Word On The Street – is almost swept up by the wind, but prevails!

Great Day at Word On The Street today…
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Adrianne Carr, Green Party politician, came by the Historic Joy Kogawa House booth, and told me that her daughter had shared with her Joy's children's book “Naomi's Tree.” “It's a great book” said Carr, as we chatted about the importance of saving historically significant landmarks (such as Kogawa House), and conserving sensitive and important environments – okay, I told her I was a director for The Land Conservancy of BC.

It's always great to see literary friends such as Evelyn Lau, George McWhirter, Renee Saklikar, Brad Cran, Charles Demers, Wayde Compton, Marisa Alps, Kevin Chong, Ariadne Sawyer, Alejandro Mujica + more… Lots of great books and magazines! I did my Christmas shopping to support local book publishers!
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Susan Crean and Hal Wake (Vancouver International Writers Festival) chat in front of the Historic Joy Kogawa House booth – photo T.Wong

Also great to see my friends at the booths such as Historic Joy Kogawa House, Ricepaper Magazine, Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, CUPE BC, Tradewind Books, Harbour Publishing, Vancouver Review, BC Book Prizes, VPL Foundation + more!

It was a busy busy Sunday, starting at 10am, because we had moved the dragon boat practice for Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team one hour early to encourage paddlers to attend events at WOTS.

Deb & I arrived shortly around 1pm to see that the tents for Poetry and Childrens events were flat on the ground.  We later learned that the wind tunnel on Hamilton St had threatened to lift the tents into the air.  After past years of rain, road closures, and a library strike, this will be forever known as the Year of the Wind.

Storyteller Mary Gavan wrote on FB that:

Storytelling in Word in the Street tent. Wind blew. Wind blew and blew; tent flew up; chairs fell down; Persian carpet went into orbit, as per its history.
Storytelling at Word on Street terminated. Area evacuated. All in a
day's story!!!
  First
time in 25 years that anyone can recall the wipe out of part of Word on
the Street (ed. note: tents were taken down for safety and programs moved to other locations). Library staff outstanding in ensuring safety and rehousing
organisations inside with tables to replace their booths. Will write
as a story shortly.

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George McWhirters steps off the “Poetry In Transit” bus, where Poetry Tent events were moved to after the tents were “put down” for safety.  George told me that he had arrived at the Poetry Tent 10 minutes before his scheduled event to find the tents flat on the ground!

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Rob Taylor read his poems on the “Poetry In Transit” bus, which didn't have any lights because of a dead battery.  Transit attendants had to herkily-jerkily back up the bus while previously reading poets and host Evelyn Lau were still on the bus chatting with audience.


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Christine Lowther reads her poems – not on the bus, but in the outdoors –  from her collection “My Nature” at another location instead of the Poetry Tent.

Despite the early morning rain, and the sudden windstorm, this year was lots of fun.  Great programming at WOTS this year.  I was able to help out at the booth for Historic Joy Kogawa House, check in at Ricepaper Magazine, drop in at lots of author readings, chat with friends at the publisher tents, and buy lots of books, as well as scoop up some deals at the silent auction prizes.

I was able to see Jen Sookfong Lee, Wayde Compton, Susan Crean, and many other authors.

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The elegant Jen Sookfong Lee read from her new book “The Better Mother” and also suggested to aspiring writers to never give in to Writers Block, nor interrupt their writing time.  She admitted that she doesn't answer the phone even when she knows her mother is calling.

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Wayde Compton is the current writer-in-residence at Vancouver Public Library.  He spun a particularly captivating story about mixed races.

My friend Tetsuro Shigematsu was especially affected by JJ Lee's reading today.  Tetsuro wrote on this FB that

Today at Word on the Street, JJ Lee along with Sheryl MacKay
took a reading and raised it to a new level. The shivering audience
laughed and cried, as JJ spoke entertainingly and insightfully about his
new book, The Measure of a Man, a memoir about his stormy relationship
with his father reconstructed around the rebuilding of his father's
suit. Buy this book. You will love it. I guarantee it. And by
guarantee, I mean I will personally buy the book from you if you don't
love it. (JJ ran out of books to sign afterwards, so I couldn't buy one)
But I know because I read an advance copy!

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