SPARKS flying in January

By Janet Harron | Dec. 8, 2009

Literary creations are one of the indisputed glories of this province and Memorial University itself is one of the places where such creations are fostered. Now, an initiative by poet and professor Mary Dalton of the Department of English, with the support of the Faculty of Arts, is set to celebrate the achievements of creative writing students, faculty, staff and members of the writing community in a day-long festival. There will be readings and discussions, book and journal displays, author signings, an exhibition of letterpress publishing and a reception at the festival’s end.

The SPARKS Fesitval is the first of its kind in St. John’s, and is conceived as the beginning of a yearly series. “The quality and quantity of literary publication in this province has been steadily increasing over the past few decades," said Ms. Dalton. "I wanted to celebrate this burgeoning by bringing together in a festival our campus authors and some of those in the wider community who have had new books of note released this year. Most of these authors travel throughout Canada and elsewhere to read at festivals; now there’ll be a festival that honours them in St. John’s.”

Dalton is calling the festival a “word spree.” It is a gathering of writers at various stages of their writing lives, among them award-winning creative writing students; authors of first books; and writers of national and international stature, such as Lisa Moore, Don McKay, and Michael Crummey. The students are excited to be participating alongside authors whose works have inspired them.

Said Lynette Adams, a Memorial English student and SPARKS participant: “It's validating on a professional level to find myself in the company of such writers as Lisa Moore and Michael Crummey and on a personal level, it's absolutely thrilling.”

The Petro-Canada Hall is a perfect venue for readers, said Dalton, because it has excellent acoustics and comfortable seating. Each session of the festival will consist of a lively mix of various genres, and each session will be a combination of readings and discussion. The authors taking part are Lynette Adams, Joan Clark, Michael Crummey, Tom Dawe, Randy Drover, Robert Finley, Jessica Grant, Susan Ingersoll, Don McKay, Janet McNaughton, Lisa Moore, Chad Pelley, Stephen Rowe, Leslie Vryenhoek, Russell Wangersky and Patrick Warner.

The festival will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 17, at the Petro-Canada Hall in the School of Music. Books will be available for sale and an evening reception will follow the day-long event. Admission is free and parking will be available in Lot 15.

Further details on the festival and a complete schedule can be found at


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