At work in the meeting space provided by Touchstones Nelson are Elephant Mountain Literary Festival committee members (from left) Lynn Krauss

Literary festival taking shape for Nelson summer

Nelson’s newest summer festival will bring four prize-winning Canadian authors to the area, including Canada’s poet laureate Fred Wah

Nelson’s newest summer festival will bring four prize-winning Canadian authors to the area, including Canada’s poet laureate Fred Wah giving his first hometown reading since being named to his new post.

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival is slated for July 12-15. It will also present representatives of Canadian literary publishers, plus celebrate West Kootenay authors at a BC wine-tasting event and a literary cabaret.

In conjunction with the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival, Okanagan College and Selkirk College will offer writing-related credit courses at Selkirk College’s Tenth Street campus. Okanagan College will present a course in professional editing, and a course familiarizing creative writers and readers with the changes in poetry and prose since the early 20th Century. Selkirk College’s July course will be announced shortly.

The festival will open with a gala wine-tasting event on July 12. Jon Langille of Nelson’s wine shop BC Wineguys will match six BC wines with the writings of six local authors, who will give short readings.

July 13 features an evening literary cabaret with Calgary spoken word guru Sheri-D Wilson as well as local spoken word artists and musicians.  Wilson will offer a morning workshop on July 14.

Panels during the day of July 14 will offer insight into contemporary literary publishing, and into ways of foregrounding the local in Canadian writing. Publishers on hand will be Melanie Little, fiction editor at Toronto’s Anansi Press, Sarah Ivany, managing editor at Calgary’s Freehand Books, Robyn Read, freelance editor and former acquisitions editor at Freehand, and Vici Johnstone, publisher of BC’s Caitlin Press, which specializes in books by and about BC women.

July 14 will conclude with a gala reading featuring new national poet laureate Wah, Canada Reads finalist and Governor-General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction winner John Vaillant, and Giller and Man Booker Prize nominee and Commonwealth Best Book Award winner novelist Lisa Moore.

“July may seem a long way away when we’re just emerging from winter,” said Elephant Mountain Literary Festival committee member Tom Wayman. “But an important part of the festival is the accompanying credit courses, whose registration deadline is May 31.”

The courses will run July 9 to 20; the intensive half-day sessions offer a full term’s worth of work over two weeks.

Besides showcasing literary and publishing talent, the festival committee wanted to see more credit education in writing available in Nelson, Wayman said.

“When Selkirk College offered its writing course in Nelson this winter, the first such credit course in a decade, the class filled right up and had a wait-list,” Wayman said. “The July courses also have limited enrollment, so we think it’s important that interested people enroll as soon as possible. Some Okanagan College students have already signed up and we’ll be publicizing the Festival and its courses beyond the local area.”

Full details on festival events and registration information for the credit courses are available on the festival website,

Festival sponsors to date include the Canada Council for the Arts, Nelson and District Credit Union, Columbia Basin Trust, Kootenay School of Writing, Okanagan College and Selkirk College.


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