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Spark it up

By Janet Harron | Jan. 4, 2013

Memorial’s Petro-Canada Hall will once again be the epicentre of Newfoundland and Labrador's writing world. The fourth annual SPARKS Literary Festival will take place at the School of Music on Sunday, Jan. 20, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Featuring a who’s who of Newfoundland and Labrador’s writing community, the festival also includes talented students and graduates from the university’s creative writing program and members of the university’s writing community. It was conceived by poet and English professor Mary Dalton  in 2009 with support from the Faculty of Arts.

“SPARKS is the perfect antidote to January,” said Professor Dalton, festival director. “In the depth of winter the Faculty of Arts brings people together to revel in the glorious gifts of our writers.  It’s a kitchen party writ large and one of the liveliest literary events on the go.”

Making his third SPARKS appearance on Jan. 20 is prolific poet and novelist Patrick Warner.

“SPARKS is an all-day, 16-round bare-knuckle word bout. Guaranteed you’ll emerge punchy, exhilarated and starry-eyed about our writers,” said Mr. Warner, who will be reading from Perfection, his latest collection of poetry.

This year the festival is collaborating with the Department of English to hold a poetry symposium titled The Poetry of Newfoundland and Labrador: Contemporary Strains on Saturday, Jan. 19, the day before the Sunday sessions, chaired by Mr. Warner. Acclaimed poets and editors, among them SPARKS haiku competition judges Tom Dawe, Nick Avis, Danielle Devereaux, James Langer and Leslie Vryenhoek, will discuss their poetic practice and currents in the contemporary poetry of Newfoundland. There will be two sessions in the afternoon between 2 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. in room 2101 of the Science building; these will involve audience contributions as well. SPARKS  participant Carmine Starnino, editor of several of Newfoundland’s major poets, will take part in the discussions.

The main day of the festival is organized into four sessions, each of which will feature readings in a variety of genres, followed by discussion with the audience. Participating authors are Gerard Collins, Eva Crocker, Ramona Dearing, Anne Hart, Catherine Hogan Safer, Wayne Johnston, Randall Maggs, Iain McCurdy, Don McKay, Robert Mellin, Trudy Morgan-Cole, Grant Loveys, Denyse Lynde, Carmine Starnino, Joan Sullivan and Patrick Warner.

A vital element of the festival is various displays reflecting the variety of ways in which literature is produced in Newfoundland and Labrador. This year the Queen Elizabeth II Library’s special collections unit is mounting a fascinating display of 10 illustrated editions of Christina Rossetti’s long poem Goblin Market, which are part of the Roger and Marlene Peattie Collection.

Other recurring elements of SPARKS include the award announcement for the popular haiku competition which is open to all and the announcement of the winner of the  $2,500 Cox & Palmer SPARKS Literary Award which acknowledges  outstanding achievement in any genre in the field of creative writing by a current or recent participant in Memorial’s creative writing courses.

A limited edition print titled Candle Burning, featuring a linocut image and last year’s award-winning haiku, will once again be available for sale with proceeds going to support the festival. The winner of the award and of the haiku competition will be announced in the final session of the festival.

An evening reception will follow the Sunday, Jan. 20, day-long event at 6 p.m.  A lunchroom will be provided for the use of audience members between 12-1 p.m. and food will be available for purchase. Books and other materials will be available for sale. Admission is free. Parking (at no charge) will be available in lot 15B, just east of the School of Music.

Further details on both days of the festival and a complete schedule can be found at www.arts.mun.ca/sparks/. An active Facebook page is also available at www.facebook.com/sparksliteraryfestival2013 and the Faculty of Arts twitter feed (@memorialarts) will be featuring SPARKS tweets (#sparks2013) leading up to the festival.


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