Friday, 18 October 2013

Nanaimo Takes Literary Readings by Storm

The literary wave is sweeping across Western Canada and Vancouver Island like a hurricane, picking up speed and moving north to Nanaimo, The Harbour City, which is growing as a hotspot for tourism and culture. Organizers David Fraser, a regional representative for the Federation of BC Writers, Cindy Shantz, Pat Smekal, Fran Thiessen, and Andrew Brown are the brainstormers for the new open mike spoken word series called WordStorm.


“The name came through a brainstorming - no pun intended - session at the Black Bear Pub where we all played on our suggestions until Pat Smekal came out with it. We liked the inherent energy and the sustained metaphor which included lightning, raw energy, and the unpredictable nature of the open mike event,” said Fraser.


David Fraser met Cindy Shantz at the Victoria School of Writing and, as Fraser recalls, Shantz was “a natural link to partner with since she also was looking to form a writing group and was interested in reading events for the area.”


“I had been mulling over the idea of having a reading event for over a year, but had procrastinated getting one started as I spent time developing a sense of the culture of the area and the culture of the Federation of BC Writers as their regional representative,” said Fraser. “After attending the Victoria School of Writing and taking workshops with Sheri-D Wilson, I became inspired to get a group together to host an on-going event that would be inclusive and performance-based in any genre.”


During this time, he found that there were very few opportunities for writers on the islands to highlight their efforts with the exception of a few local festivals and some on-going Victoria events. The goal of WordStorm is to provide a venue for new and emerging writers of prose, poetry, dramatic presentations, song, and music; to experiment and workshop new material; to develop spoken word skills; and to entertain, have fun and share ideas. The poetry series aims to recognize and celebrate all demographics, writing styles and skill levels of participating writers. The WordStorm poetry series will also be a creative catalyst to assist placing Nanaimo on the map for spoken word events comparable to Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, while promoting the talent of local island writers and providing a new form of entertainment for Nanaimo residents.


“Basically we wanted to have two main components to the event. One would be a slate of readers that would be organized in advance of each event, and scheduled two or three months ahead. Some readers would be featured readers, reading for 15 minutes (one or two) and the other would be "lightning" readers and they would read for 5 minutes,” said Fraser. “The other component would be an open mike competition involving two prizes generated from the small entrance fee, one for poetry and one for prose.”


The evening starts off with live music, followed by a featured reader and lightning readers before the open mike competitions, and finishes with one of the slated readers returning at the end to read for five minutes while the judging results are tabulated.


The WordStorm launch was held on January 25th, entertaining a sold-out crowd at the Bombay Lounge, downstairs in the Acme Food Co. 14 Commercial Street, Nanaimo, and will continue to entertain on the last Thursday of each month.  There will be a $3.00 cover for everyone except the readers and organizers. The cover will go toward prize money for the evening with some accumulating for the Super WordStorm event. 


The Bombay Lounge has a capacity of 40 people, so don't be disappointed, reserve ahead through the PayPal link below or take your chances at the door.  All reservations must be picked up before 6:30 pm or they will become void, and spaces will be given out on a first come, first served basis.  Reservations can be made via paypal on the web site:


“We are hoping to always have variety with a blend of poetry, prose, improv, song, dramatic monologue with the slated readings, and we hope to attract all writers, aspiring, emerging and established to be our slated readers and to be involved in the open mike competition,” said Fraser.