Monday, August 20, 2012

Literary: Summer Dreams Festival – A Movable and Free Literary Arts Feast

By Mary Duffy

“It’s kind of like coming home,” says Bonnie Nish, Executive Director of Pandora’s Collective, of this year’s 9th annual Sumer Dreams Literary Arts Festival.  The festival, which spent its first years at the Vancouver Art Gallery and then moved to Stanley Park, now takes place at Trout Lake, 300 Victoria Drive, on Saturday, August 25th. Summer Dreams is very much at home in Eastside Vancouver.

Nish, the artistic director of Summer Dreams, has just come home after a summer in the Swiss Alps working on her PhD in Expressive Arts Therapy at the European Graduate School. Therefore, the festival planning had to start earlier than before, with Nish assembling a team of volunteers and feeding them pizza, chili and Pasta Gardenia during meetings at her home, starting just after last year’s festival finished.

Twisted Poets, a Pandora’s Collective venture, just celebrated its 10th year. This was where Bonnie began to dream about creating a showcase connecting local poets in one big festival. Pandoras’ presents a mix of published, award winning writers alongside emerging writers and open mike performers, and debuted at a Commercial Drive café, hosting legendary poets such as Bill Bissett and local spoken-word stars such as R.C. Weslowski.

The Summer Dreams Festival is like an immense expansion of Twisted Poets, featuring poets, children’s authors, musicians and performers from across the lower mainland. The festival, which started with one stage at the Vancouver Art Gallery, has now grown exponentially and will present three stages, on the 25th, at Trout Lake; and a gala night on Friday, the 24th, at the CBC Studio 700, at 700 Hamilton St. The festival is free and open to the public and is aimed at “anyone who loves words, stories or poetry”.

According to Nish, “the gala will honour many who deserve to be recognized,”. This years award recipients  are poets Joe Rosenblatt, Wayde Compton, Heather Haley and Steve Duncan  in addition to D&M Publishers and the magazine, Adbusters. The evening of the 24th will also feature award-winning poet George Bowering and the music of Mount Pleasant’s Inchoiring Minds, followed by a silent auction replete with a smorgasbord of treasures from local artists, craftspeople and businesses.

The Saturday outdoor festival at Trout Lake on the 25th will share the park with the Farmer’s Market, and will provide many pleasures. You can listen to the traditional music of Darfur performed by Sundada, featuring the oud playing of Alaaeldin Abdalla, groove to the fusion of Leanne Averbach’s spoken word poetry accompanied by the jazz/blues of Indigo, or dance to the beat of spoken-word artist Barbara Adler and Fang, Vancouver’s famous accordion rock band. You can attend author-readings, workshops, readings by children’s writers, and other performances, on three stages. You can join in a “Free Silly Workshop” for adults, and participate in crafts and face painting for the younger set. You can move through this joyful fair and consume a cornucopia of desserts.

The fest hosts a feast of amazing artists from musicians to award winning ‘page’ and slam poets , including Evelyn Lau, Jillian Christmas, Denis E. Bolan, Daniela Elza, Billeh Nickerson, and Tanya Evanson.  As Nish says, “It’s a great way to get involved in the literary community and see what’s out there”. You might even decide to
 continue to follow or join one of the many featured writing or performance groups; from the Vancouver Storytellers to the Van Slam Poetry team this fest offers something for everyone.

And in the true spirit of an East Vancouver potluck, the festival invites you to participate. There will be two open mikes that you can sign up for on the day of the 25th, if you would like bring some of your own creations to share at this party.

For more information and a complete list of events and performers you can visit:
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