Actor Lucas Myers, seen here performing from his show Deck, will spin a story tailor-made for the post-pandemic, in-person Elephant Mountain Literary Festival, June 23 to 26 in Nelson. Photo: Submitted

Actor Lucas Myers, seen here performing from his show Deck, will spin a story tailor-made for the post-pandemic, in-person Elephant Mountain Literary Festival, June 23 to 26 in Nelson. Photo: Submitted

FESTIVAL TALES: Speakeasy? Yes, they do

Anne DeGrace writes about Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s upcoming Words and Wine event

by Anne DeGrace

During the American prohibition in the 1920s and 30s, the speakeasy was the place to be. Named for the necessity to “speak softly” when requesting a glass of something illegal — because you never knew who might be listening — speakeasies drew folks from all walks of life in a shared quest for libation and conviviality. As time went by, speakeasies became places of music and dancing: toes tapped, flappers flapped, glasses were raised, and the cops were on the take.

Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s event “Words and Wine: A Storytelling Speakeasy,” which takes place on Friday, June 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Prestige Lakeside Resort, doesn’t require subterfuge, wine tasters come with the ticket price, and the music is all in the words — and what words they will be! Along with libation and conviviality, we promise you unforgettable words.

Three storytellers will be paired with B.C. wines, so you can lift a glass and toast the talented tale-spinning of Ellen Burt, Magpie Ulysses, and Lucas Myers. In order to help inform this column and the wine pairings (which the EMLF committee kindly lets me write), I asked them a few questions from the famous Proust Questionnaire. I’ll sneak in some of their answers below.

Ellen Burt has been a frequent winner of the Nelson Poetry Slam and is active in that semi-regular gathering of Nelson’s creative inklings, Words on Baker. BC Bookworld’s The Ormsby Review said that “Ellen Burt’s language is sensuous, as fragrant and melodic as butter and fresh trout sizzling in the pan.” That sounds to me like something that would pair well with a crisp Pinot Gris, but you’ll have to wait until the event to find out. I will tell you that for Ellen, perfect happiness is an orchid in an old growth forest, which sounds perfect to me, too.

Magpie Ulysses, a veteran of the national poetry slam community in Canada, has twice been a part of national champion teams. Described as a writer, rabble rouser, and fancy talker, Magpie is a poet of depth and imagination; just like Ulysses and his Trojan Horse, the words that emerge may surprise you. Magpie answered Proust’s question, “If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?” with “selkie,” that half-seal, half-human creature of mythology. Does this suggest that Magpie, named for a creature of the sky but drawn to a creature of the sea, is a poet of multiple worlds? What wine of nuanced complexity might best pair with this artist?

Question No. 2 on the Proust Questionnaire is: What is your greatest fear? “Being found out” answered Lucas Myers. Truthfully, I don’t know a single artist who doesn’t claim to feel like a poser, at least some of the time. But funnyman/actor Lucas — who indeed poses as many characters, including Randy from Creston, HiMyNameIsDave, and The Amazing and Impermeable Cromoli Brothers (both of them) — is the real deal. A graduate of Canada’s National Theatre School, he studied and toured internationally before settling back in Nelson to raise a family and form PilotcoPilot Theatre. Lucas’s performance for EMLF explores the question: “What happens when your identity and essential artistic outlet is whisked away by a pandemic? Who are you then?” I’d wager there’s a wine pairing for that.

The fourth question I asked was not one of Proust’s. “What does Storytelling mean to you?” received answers as diverse, nuanced, and complex — perhaps with angsty undertones and hints of old growth orchids — as any good vino. Which is exactly what you can expect from these three storytellers of exceptional vintage.

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival, now in its 11th year, presents celebrated Canadian authors alongside talented local writers for a series of evening events, panel discussions and workshops to inspire, surprise, intrigue, and entertain. For information and tickets go to


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