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Canadian Writers-in-Residence Reunion Festival celebrates CDWP legacy

Three day literary festival reflects achievements and scope of resident writers over the past 23 years

By Heath McCoy
August 24, 2016

In this milestone year, as the University of Calgary celebrates our 50th anniversary, it is fitting that the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program (CDWP), considered one of the flagship programs in the Faculty of Arts, should be recognized in a special way.

Thanks to a generous donation by a creative writing program alumni who wished to remain anonymous, the CDWP is kicking off its 2016-2017 season with its first ever Canadian Writers-in-Residence Reunion Festival, to be held Sept. 15-17. View the schedule (PDF)

The long running CDWP, now in its 23rd year, has established a legacy of literary excellence from within the Faculty of Arts, fostering the careers of many an acclaimed writer with its coveted Canadian Writer-in-Residence position. 

Advancing the talents and careers of emerging writers

Ever since it was established in 1993, the CDWP has hosted a new Canadian Writer-in-Residence each year, the position dedicated to helping emerging writers advance their talents and careers. During their 10-month residency at the university, writers are provided with time, administrative support and a generous honourarium to develop their individual projects. The writers also take part in activities within the Calgary literary community, including public readings and talks, and they provide individual manuscript consultations to local writers.

Thirteen past writers-in-residence and this year’s incoming writer Shane Book are set to take part in the reunion festival, with all events being free to the public and to students. Read more about the leading writers.

“Our intention with this festival is to highlight the impact the CDWP has had on the lives and the careers of so many emerging writers,” says Jacqueline Jenkins, acting chair of the CDWP and head of the Department of English. “These are writers who came here as new names and emerging talents and many are returning as distinguished names in the Canadian literary community.”

Program reflects the diversity of Calgary

The pillar event of the Canadian Writers-in-Residence Festival will be the CDWP’s annual Hello/Goodbye reception on Sept. 16, wherein the public will bid farewell to departing writer-in-residence Nick Thran and welcome the incoming residency of Shane Book.

As both a poet and a filmmaker, Book neatly represents the diversity of both the reunion festival and the writer-in-residence program. “In a way he epitomizes how wide ranging the program has been, which the festival also demonstrates,” says Jenkins. “We’ve had filmmakers, poets, novelists, dramatists. We reflect this highly diverse city in which we live in terms of arts interests and backgrounds. We’ve attracted the highest caliber of applicants and we’ve always been attentive to gender and cultural diversity.”

She adds: “Our writers-in-residence have made a huge contribution to our literary community on campus, in Calgary, and across Canada. It’s a program we’re very proud of and this is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate it.”

Learn more about CDWP on the program website.