2017 CNFC Conference Schedule

All of this year’s conference events are taking place at Green College on the University of British Columbia Campus (6201 Cecil Green Park Road).

Friday, May 5
4pm – 6pm in the Green College foyer Conference registration
7pm – 11pm in the Great Hall CNFC Gala Dinner and Literary Cabaret, with presentation of CNFC/carte blanche prize.

The Literary Cabaret is a tradition at the Creative Nonfiction Conferences. Members, limited to two minutes, read a selection from their current work. These snapshots of one another’s writing give us insights into the range of material being explored and expressed by our members, and create networking opportunities by revealing thematic connections between writers.

Saturday, May 6
8am – 9am in the Green College foyer Conference and Saturday session registration
9am – 10:15am in the Coach House Keynote presentation by Deborah Campbell

Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust non-fiction prize winner Deborah Campbell will present the 2017 CNFC conference keynote. Upon accepting our invitation, she said “the CNFC is an important part of nonfiction writing culture in Canada.”Deborah will speak about her new book, A Disappearance in Damascus, and in keeping with the conference theme, she will also look back on her own writing, how it’s evolved, and how that evolution echoes — or differs — from what she observes in the CNF genre overall.

10:15am – 10:30am in the Pool Room Coffee and muffin break
10:30am – 11:45am in the Coach House In Conversation: Hal Wake and Joy Kogawa

Joy Kogawa, one of Canada’s most distinguished literary elders, is best known for her first, and award-winning, novel Obasan (1981). The book is identified by the CBC and the Literary Review as one of Canada’s 100 Most Important Canadian Books. It was the first novel to address the issue of the Japanese-Canadian internment.

In September 2016, Joy’s long-awaited memoir, Gently to Nagasaki, was published by Caitlin Press. In many ways, the memoir is a truth-telling sequel to Obasan as it wrestles with essential questions like good and evil, love and hate, rage and forgiveness with regards to racism, paedophilia, nuclear power, Canadian internment camps, and Japanese war atrocities.

Hal Wake has been engaged with the literary community in Canada for more than 30 years. In the mid 1980s he was the book producer for CBC Radio’s Morningside with Peter Gzowski, then served as host of CBC Radio’s The Early Edition. He has hosted or moderated more than a hundred literary events at festivals in Vancouver, Victoria, London (UK), Auckland (NZ), Tepotzlan, Mexico and Sydney, Australia. Hal is currently in his last year as Artistic Director of the Vancouver Writers Fest.

The 2017 CNFC conference will mark Hal’s third consecutive “In Conversation”; in 2015, he interviewed Eve Joseph, and in 2016, Eli Danica.

12pm – 1pm in the Great Hall Lunch for all conference registrants.
1pm – 2pm in the Coach House CNFC Annual General Meeting
2pm – 3:15pm in the Great Hall Who’s Afraid of the Personal Essay? With Andreas Schroeder

The personal essay is one of the most flexible forms in creative nonfiction. It can include elements of every other genre there is. It can be lyrical, rhetorical, formal, or informal. Its apparent looseness (“a sally through a mazy mind,” as Cynthia Ozick describes it), can make it seem that anything goes. But in fact, because there are no apparent rules and each essay is a world unto itself, it’s one of the most difficult forms to write. This workshop will explore this exciting form and demystify some of its more challenging aspects.

2pm – 3:15pm in the Coach House Interactive Creative Nonfiction, with Ruby Remenda Swanson, Crystal Chan, and Betsy Warland

Creative nonfiction allows the writer to interact with real events, real people, real places. But how can you reinvigorate your writing by applying interactivity directly to the creative process, and to the way you connect with other artists and audiences?

This workshop will inspire you to try outside-the-box ideas that can help you and your readers interact with your work and each other in new and meaningful ways.

Betsy, Crystal, and Ruby are coming together from across Canada (Vancouver, Montreal, and Edmonton, respectively). They also speak from different points in the professional experience: Betsy, as a veteran author; Crystal, as a journalist and editor; Ruby, as a writer who balances another career and recently published her first book.

Together we will learn from each other and the audience through a group activity, plus time for workshopping audience case studies. Audience members are invited to come with questions related to ‘interactivity’ from what they’re working on. Coming from our varied backgrounds, we can address audience ideas and challenges from different perspectives.

2pm – 3:15pm in Gibson Room A Response Circle: What can CNF writers bring to the table at this historical moment in Canada? With Julie Salverson, Ellen Bielawski, and Myrna Kostash

All of us today, as nonfiction writers and citizens, are challenged with listening to and telling forward the story of this home we call Canada. As we consider this task, where are the possibilities for change, for hope, and for honest listening — listening not to consume and extract (what scholar Dylan Robinson calls hungry listening) but to acknowledge and attend?

We are proposing a session where CNF writers are invited to respond to calls for justice as whole people who draw upon a rich variety of resources. We are particularly interested in what it means to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Calls to Action. How do all of us, individually and collectively, honour our own heritage, traditions and teachers? How do we bring these to the table and to what we write? What do each of us offer to the conversation?

We are women over sixty years old; our age is one of the resources we draw on as facilitators of this session. We come from different traditions and are shaped by different teachings. These differences are central to this workshop, and it is this multiplicity of resources we will invite others to speak to and from.

We will each speak for ten minutes about the deep preparation we do to enter thorny territory as writers, the heritage, traditions and teachings that inform our work, and what a response to these times means to us. We will then invite people in the room to speak to this.

3:15pm – 3:30pm Coffee break in the Pool Room
3:30pm – 5pm in the Coach House Closing Plenary: Looking Back, Looking Forward, with CNFC founding members Betsy Warland, Myrna Kostash and Andreas Schroeder

Speakers will provide context for the origins of the organization, assess the trajectory of the genre’s development, and attempt to further define creative nonfiction in an effort to solidify its similarities and distinctions from others (notably fiction).

The plenary will draw on a broad spectrum of the speakers’ experiences with CNF, as writers, advocates, and teachers. In keeping with this year’s theme, the goal of this session is to provide members with an opportunity to look back at where we’ve come from and brainstorm about where we’d like to go from here.

6pm onwards at Mahony & Son’s (5900 University Blvd) Closing conference mixer

After the official close of the conference, stick around for an informal get-together over food and drinks (not included in the registration fee). This is a chance to chat with new and old friends, offer feedback on the conference, and to just relax after a busy day.