Arts & Culture

Putting on the glitz

Manitoba Book Awards tries on retro look

The historic Marlborough Hotel will light up with talent (and maybe some pearls) during the 2015 Manitoba Book Awards.

“We decided to do something a little different this year,” said Manitoba Writer’s Guild event coordinator, Rhiannon Maskiw-Connelly. “This is our first year introducing a theme and little bit more formal of a venue. We’re moving toward more of a gala.”

This year’s 1920s theme means more than flapper dresses and fedoras — it celebrates Manitoba’s literary his¬tory, according to Maskiw-Connelly.

“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited Winnipeg in 1923, but it wasn’t actually for literary reasons. He was going through his phase of spiritualism,” she said. “When he came to Winnipeg in 1923, he stayed at The Marlborough Hotel.”

People are encouraged to come in 1920s-themed costume, although it’s not mandatory.

The awards, however, are firm¬ly rooted in the present with the introduction of two new awards: the Beatrice Mosionier Aboriginal Writer of the Year Award and the Chris Johnson Award for Best Play by a Manitoba Playwright.

New awards help raise interest in the arts and keeps people in-the-know, according to Rory Runnells, artistic director of the Manitoba Association of Playwrights.

“Every award increases knowledge in the public about its intent, hence more attention is paid to the theatre and literary community,” said Runnells. “People become interested in reading the play or going to see an¬other play by the same playwright.”

Attendees can mingle with this year’s nominees including award-winning authors Joan Thomas, Katherena Vermette and Red River College graduate David Bergen.

“It will be a great event to meet with some of the industry’s top people and for anybody who’s interested in a career in writing,” said Maskiw-Connelly. “Whether someone is interest¬ed in journalism, poetry or fiction, this will be a great place to learn a little bit about the process.”

The awards will be hosted by award-winning author and broad¬caster, Rosanna Deerchild.

“Rosanna’s such an interesting person who’s been prominent in the media over the last year,” said Maskiw-Conelly about the first-time host.

The 2015 Manitoba Book Awards will be held on April 25 at The Marl¬borough Hotel with cocktails at 6 p.m. and the awards at 7 p.m.