Wordfest gets livelier

Performative events bring new energy to stage

There is more than one way to tell a story and that fact is the driving force behind many of the events at Wordfest this year where more than 65 writers will take part in literary gatherings readings spoken word a video show-and-tell and even a Literary Death Match.

Wordfest one of the country’s largest literary festivals is getting livelier as executive director Jo Steffens aims to attract new people and provide more opportunities for the writers.

“I started last year entering into more performative live events” says Steffens. “The goal was really me wanting to seek out great events that I could include in the regular festival.”

That plan has definitely hit its stride this year with the debut of Page Breaks. The new series puts fast-paced performances video essays and storytellers onstage in a variety of formats including co-presentations of Literary Death Match This Really Happened and Ryeberg Live. “I want to support efforts like this” Steffens says.

Literary Death Match ( literarydeathmatch.com ) pits Todd Babiak Lisa Moore Alan Silverberg and D.W. Wilson against each other in a battle of wits and words on Tuesday October 15. Created by A drian Todd Zuniga who is also the host the reading series “marries the literary and performative aspects of Def Poetry Jam rapier-witted quips of American Idol ’s judging (without any meanness) and the ridiculousness and hilarity of Double Dare .”

Basically four emerging and established authors have less seven minutes to perform their “most electric writing” in front of a cheering/jeering audience and panel of celebrity judges (including Will Ferguson and Ophira Eisenberg ) who aren’t afraid to hold back. The last two standing compete in the Literary Death Match finale. So expect fierce competition lively performances and a lot of laughs.

The Page Breaks series also brings back This Really Happened ( carte-blanche.org/this-really-happened/ ) which debuted in 2012 on Wednesday October 16. The popular non-fiction storytelling series created by Quebec-based literary journal carte blanche features participants telling true stories without using notes.

This year’s theme is Crime and Punishment and the stellar lineup of writers with true confessions er stories are: L isa Moore on late-night dorm intruders; Craig Davidson on family fridge politics; Michael Winter on accidental forest fires and the love of an older woman; Todd Babiak on drunken shoplifting decisions; and Ophira Eisenberg on crossing the border with dodgy documents.

Ryeberg Live on Saturday October 19 in Banff is described as a “video show-and-tell” curated by Craig Davidson Joanna Kavenna Andrew Pyper and D.W. Wilson who each present an original essay using online video as inspiration.

Ryeberg ( ryeberg.com ) which is based in Toronto publishes essays on a broad range of topics and every essay includes videos from video-sharing sites — each work is a combination of text and video or as they like to call it a “Ryeberg.”

The remaining two events in the Page Breaks series are: Word Play Live on Friday October 18 in which an adaptation of Nancy Jo Cullen ’s “Valerie’s Bush” from her short story collection Canary will be performed as a live radio play; and Best of Young British Novelists on Sunday October 20 in Banff which features Xiaolu Guo and Joanna Kavenna two novelists appearing in this decade’s prestigious Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4 . Granta which has published previous “best of” books in 1983 1993 and 2003 is known for finding talented writers who have gone on to fame including Martin Amis Julian Barnes Ian McEwan Will Self and Zadie Smith among others.

For details about the Page Breaks series and other events taking place at the festival go to wordfest.com.