Communal Beat

The Magic of Denman’s Literary Festival

The Magic of Denman’s Literary Festival

By Stewart Goodings

I’ve been attending Denman Island’s Readers and Writers Festival for several years, and I’d like to share some of the reasons it is a “must-attend” event not only in my calendar but also in the agendas of many Comox Valley residents.

Michael Crummey

Michael Crummey

First of all, it attracts top BC writers as well as authors from further afield. For example, this year, the winner of the Ethel Wilson BC Book Prize, Aislinn Hunter from Vancouver will be reading from her novel, “The World Before Us”. As for Newfoundland’s Michael Crummey, I am expecting he will regale festival-goers with quixotic and moving tales from his latest best seller, “Sweetland”.

Unlike many of the big festivals, Denman’s gives book-lovers the chance for real personal encounters with the invited authors, either by asking them questions in the solo sessions, having lunch or coffee with them, or taking 3 hour workshops with some of them. Bob Bossin, from Gabriola, the veteran folk-singer has written a memoir about his father, “Davy the Punk”, and will also present a workshop called “Finding the Story” with tips about how he develops ideas and words for his songs and other writing.

The village ambience of Denman’s core is enhanced by green spaces, an art gallery, a craft store, a 100 year old General Store as well as Abraxas Bookstore, one of the organizers of the Festival. Wine-tasting, poetry readings and impromptu music are all part of the atmosphere.

Local businesses are big supporters of the Festival, and sometimes cause a few laughs when the gift certificates are presented: I remember last year reminding one of our guests, Douglas Gibson, the publisher from Toronto, that it was unlikely his city would welcome so warmly the septic tank cleanout that was one of the door prizes!

Writing and reading are solitary pursuits, but getting together with others who like to read or write can be a stimulating experience, and we’ve heard some attendees who credited the Denman experience for exploding the “writer’s block” that had held them back from penning that long-planned memoir or novel.

Full details of the festival, including all the authors and schedule, can be found on the website:

The Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival

Dates: July 16th to 19th

Google Map

The Festival is in “Downtown Denman” – Just up the hill from the Ferry Landing.

BC Ferries Link:


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