February has seen the city of Corner Brook thrown into a “literary frenzy,” and it all came to a head Wednesday night at the Corner Brook Public Library.
A night after renowned Nova Scotia-based author Alexander MacLeod headlined a reading inside the Grenfell Art Gallery, a whole swath of local west coast writers read to a patient crowd at the library.
The night began with the western representative of the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador (WANL), Janice Godin, reading a selection from a recent novel. Before she read to the crowd, Godin addressed the gang of writers waiting to read, stating that WANL is looking to expand its influence upon writers on the west coast, and provide them with more opportunities.
While Godin’s reading certainly set the tone for the rest of the evening, it wasn’t an indication, genre-wise, of what was to come. The nine writers who followed collectively displayed a great amount of diversity, showcasing genres and mediums from poetry to illustrated Christmas books, to advice on swiftly removing oneself from the burden of looming debt.
Winston Newbury chose to talk about, not read from, his book “Think Yourself Out Of Debt.” Newbury detailed his own experience of managing to shrug off the load of his own debt by the age of 40. It was a feat, he said, that was not something he was trying to brag about, but only use to encourage younger people to escape their own burdens of debt, while still young.
Shawna Troke-Leukert read a recent story of hers that had been published in an edition of “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Leukert described the experience of discovering creative writing at the age of nine, but not achieving publication until she was 40. She said, standing before the room of readers and writers alike, that if there was anyone out there with stories in their closet waiting to be published, to stick with it.
Jackie Alcock detailed her colouring book “Colouring The Rock With Jackie,” a colouring book with a touristic twist: the book details the island from Labrador, to arriving on the island in Port aux Basques, to St. John’s and the eastern communities.
Local indie fiction star Tony Dingwell read from a children’s book he said he thought he would finish by the time his son was old enough to read chapter books, only to see his son digging into university textbooks before he finally put it to bed.
Bride Doyle disrupted the theme of speaking to the audience from the podium, by inviting a volunteer to the front of the room with her for a demonstration of her book “Quest For Happiness.” Doyle described the book as an indication of the power words have on other people, whether those words are the product of internal thought, or through praising or even bullying others.
In one of the more intimate moments of the night, Nellie P. Strowbridge read a poem detailing her life around and after the suicide of her sister. Strowbridge described the phone call that told her of her sister’s death as a bomb, the news like shrapnel on her flesh.
Similarly, Wanda Gushue read from her book “Behind the Eyes,” the title of which is taken from a moment shared between Gushue and her husband in the last days of his life. Gushue’s husband, who had been diagnosed with ALS, lay expressionless and unable to move on their bed, while Gushue, peering into his eyes, recognized the man she married still lurking behind them. Gushue described seeing her motionless husband smile in the final days before he died, telling the audience not to forget the power of a smile. Her journal of that time in her life became the published text she read from.
The two last readers of the evening were Joannie Coffin and D. Jean Young.
Coffin read from a book she co-authored with her son, Brent, who provided the illustrations of the Christmas fairy tale narrative.
Young, from the local Page One Writers, read from a recent story.
The night capped a month-long celebration of local authors at the library, doing so in a way that showcased the diversity in genre and medium the west coast of the island has on the literary tap.