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WordFest Comes to Campus!

By Terry Rahbek-Nielsen


Calgary’s WordFest is one of the largest literary festivals in Canada, with over 70 writers of international stature participating in more than 65 events taking place this week in Calgary and Banff.  A proud partner of WordFest, the University is hosting five events this week. Highlights are the foreign language writers sponsored by departments in the Faculty of Arts.


“Language learners benefit from close contact with those who play with words to craft imaginary worlds, and who study language and literature, whatever the students’ language skills are at the time,” says Eileen Lohka, Director of the French Centre.  “I firmly believe in the value of inviting high-profile writers to campus.”


On Thursday (October 13) at 11 a.m. in the French Centre (CH C-301), Dany Laferrière and Maryse Rouy co-present as two writers whose works overlap fiction and history. Haitian-Canadian Dany Laferrière first burst onto the literary world with his novel How to Make Love to Negro without Getting Tired. Author of 9 other highly acclaimed novels, he was the 2009 winner of the prestigious French literary ward le Prix Médicis for L’énigme du retour (The Return), about his personal journey back to his birthplace in Haiti following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Laferrière is on the long list for the Giller Prize for The Return.  French-born Maryse Rouy has published more than 20 historical novels set during the French Revolution and World War II for youth and adults. 


Michael Taylor, Associate Professor in the Department of Germanic, Slavic and East Asian Studies is excited about the opportunity for students of German to hear Thomas Pletzinger, a rising star in contemporary pop literature in both the German and English-speaking worlds (October 14, 6 pm, ST 141).  German languages classes incorporate Pletzinger’s best-selling, Funeral for a Dog, into all levels of their curriculum - from using excerpts used to practice speaking and reading for beginning students, to studying the cultural significance of food, and the relationship between place and language in literature in the higher levels. “The  combination of classroom learning and live reading enlivens language learning and makes an author’s reading itself a more effective and powerful event,” says Taylor.


A free reading in Spanish by Cuban novelist José Manuel Preto is on October 14 at 11 am in the Rozsa Centre.  All events will have English components.


Details of all WordFest events on campus (including The Fantastical and The Case Cracking Chicks) are available from ArtsNow, at