Writers’ festival brings international authors to Winnipeg

Thin Air’s topics span history, travel, picture books and poetry. THE PROJECTOR/ Kelsey James

Thin Air’s topics span history, travel, picture books and poetry. THE PROJECTOR/ Kelsey James

The Winnipeg International Writers Festival (also known as Thin Air) returns to Winnipeg September 23 – October 1 with 63 events and an eclectic mix of writers, including Cordelia Strube, David Robertson and Lisa Moore.  As a Winnipeg staple since 2003, Thin Air is dedicated to showcasing both new talent and writers with an already high-level of notoriety.  

Charlene Diehl, director of the festival, credited the diversity of Canada’s writing community for why Thin Air is one of the main literary festivals in the country.

“We have a wide range of voices speaking from places that aren’t the mainstream,” said Diehl.  “In a way you can visit the whole world just by paying attention to the people who live in your neighbourhood.”

Diehl is committed to making the festival accessible to all through student and senior discounts.  Many Thin Air events are free, including those on post-secondary campuses, but a lower cost pass can also be purchased.  For 35 dollars, holders can attend five main stages in English or two in French – equating to approximately 80 dollars in entertainment.  This option allows festival-goers to be adventurous in the readings they attend.

David Robertson, winner of the 2015 John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer, first broke into Canada’s literary scene with his acclaimed graphic novels.  He has more recently branched out into poetry, short stories and his first novel, The Evolution of Alice.  Regardless of the genre, Robertson’s writing addresses Indigenous culture and history, a timely topic given advances with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“I’ve spent 90 per cent of my time addressing Indigenous Peoples in an effort to educate,” said Robertson.  “I think it’s important all Canadians know about the things that have happened, and are happening, in Canada.”

Diehl and Robertson encourage Winnipeggers to attend events.  While the main stage is at MTYP, events also take place at venues across the city.  There will be two workshops for aspiring writers both Saturdays of the festival at the Millennium Library (30 dollars each or both for 50).  The festival has also newly introduced a “writer’s boot camp” at McNally Robinson.

The Roblin Centre will hold a number of readings beginning on September 21.  Caleb Beswatherick, an RRC student in the educational assistance program, balances school and fatherhood but said he is interested in going to Thin Air events should his schedule permit.

Both Charlene Diehl and David Robertson encourage Winnipeggers to get involved in the festivities.  For RRC students wanting more information, program guides are located at the information booths of all campuses.  Times, locations, featured readers and pricing can also be accessed via the festival’s website, https://thinairwinnipeg.ca.