Writers festival wraps up for another year

By: Alicia Régnier

Charlene Diehl, director of the Thin Air writers festival, gave a message of hope for future generations on the last event of the festival that took place on Oct. 18 at Kilter Brewing.

“I think in many ways, your demographic, your generation, has access to be makers in ways that were not available in the same way to my generation,” said Diehl.

The event showcased readers and writers in the community who have been awarded prizes from The Manitoba Book Awards.

By curating a lineup of writers, Diehl is able to create opportunities for people from different backgrounds, incorporating her passion into her work. This year was Diehl’s 20th Thin Air festival as director. 

“It almost makes me cry sometimes because it’s so important. It’s how we can meet one another,” said Diehl.

Director of Thin Air writers festival, Charlene Diehl, opens the last event of the festival at Kilter Brewing on Oct. 18, 2022. She is glad people are able to get together and celebrate writers as a community, she said. (Alicia Régnier)

Every year, Diehl works with publishers to put together a carefully selected group of writers for the festival. The group consists of community members who are able to speak openly about the community.

Susan Bjornsson, a regular attendee of the Thin Air festival for the last 15 years, knows how important this festival is.

“You get exposed to authors and their ideas, how they write, and different techniques they use,“ Bjornsson said. “I find it important for people of all ages to go to Thin Air events to hear about all areas of life. It’s a learning experience, especially if you’re a student.”

A large part of Diehl’s job is exposing the younger generation to different varieties of writing. With Canada’s low literacy rates, festivals like Thin Air are a different way to get people excited about reading, Diehl said.

“I think that what I get to do in gathering all these writers together has everything to do with the younger generation,” said Diehl.

Diehl continues to encourage future generations to continue reading and creating.

“I think you guys, my kids, this whole cohort, are the reason for hope, so don’t lose your faith. When you get too tired and dispirited and it seems insurmountable, it’s not,” Diehl said.