Words Alive Kamloops: a writer’s weekend workshop

Kamloops festival gives writers the chance to hone their skills

For any students wanting to improve their writing skills, whether it be for school or career purposes or just wanting to have fun, Words Alive Kamloops might be the weekend workshop that you need.

JP Baker is the Chair of the Festival Organizing Committee for Words Alive Kamloops. Baker says that the festival “is all about bringing readers and writers together with a bunch of guest authors and doing some learning, some entertaining, and some celebrating of the written word.”

This event is made to create a community for writers, as they can be a very reclusive crowd.

“As writers, we tend to self-isolate. Some of us by nature and we don’t realize or accept the importance of interacting with other people. It can be amazingly inspiring to talk with other people. It takes a lot of courage to actually say to someone ‘I’m a writer’ … You can skip a few years of trial and error in your basement by coming to this.”

This event is taking place from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon, with different workshops offered during the day and free evening events on Friday and Saturday. This event is easily accessible to students as it is all being held on TRU’s campus.

Baker says that because they’re holding the event at TRU and it’s still early in the fall, he hopes that more student writers will attend. Baker says “It’s really important to us, and to me, that we provide some kind of platform and some sort of community for aspiring writers.”

Although Words Alive Kamloops is the new name of this event, they have been hosting this annual event for eight years now. Originally, they were known as the Kamloops Writers Festival, but Words Alive Kamloops wanted to be more open and less intimidating to the general public.

“It used to be that the festival was like a little writer’s conference. But we really tried to broaden our scope and include the general public, so we have two evening events that everyone is welcome to come to that are interesting to readers, not just to writers, and the sort of generally curious. We still have all the activities for writers in the daytime.”

Through hard work, and generosity from volunteers and sponsors, Words Alive Kamloops is able to bring in six authors from around B.C. to help readers and writers expand their skill sets.

“There’s a lot of hard work, [and] a lot of volunteer hours. We do get funding from the City of Kamloops and B.C. But the festival doesn’t actually cost that much because the labour and spaces are donated. Over 50% of our costs actually go to the authors. Author fees, author transportation, author accommodation.”

TRUSU and the TRU Writing Centre played a huge factor in the event by providing space. TRUSU has offered the Lecture Hall and Boardroom for workshops during the day, and the TRU Writing Centre has helped plan the Friday evening event in HOL 190. Baker says that the majority of success comes from the volunteers.

“Most of it is organized by a bunch of volunteers in town who are writers or who are readers who believe in having this kind of activity happening in Kamloops.”

On Saturday and Sunday, there will be workshops in the day for writers to register for. Both days have the same schedule, with three workshops happening in the TRUSU Boardroom and three workshops happening in the TRUSU Lecture Hall. A one day pass will allow you to pick three workshops to attend whereas a weekend pass will allow you to see all six.

Regarding the workshops, Baker says, “Some of them are pretty specific and some are more general. There’s a mix.” There will also be some workshops for working on individual projects or a workshop may be about analyzing other works.

For a full schedule and to register, check out wordsalivekamloops.com. There are special discounts for students to attend the workshops, and free evening events on Friday and Saturday nights to learn about the authors.