Over 100 registrants and 25 guests participated in the landmark Manitoba Writers’ Guild 30th anniversary Symposium of Manitoba Writing May 9–12, 2012, on the beautiful Canadian Mennonite University Campus. The Symposium featured keynote speakers, readings, panels, papers and presentations examining the last 100 years of Manitoba writing. Keynote speakers Marta Dvorak and Aritha Van Herk presented their takes on Manitoba writing; Dick Harrison and Ted Dyck spoke about Manitoba fiction and poetry respectively. Manitoba aboriginal, Mennonite and Franco-Manitoban writing panels provided historical insight while noting current trends. Publishers talked about writers, and writers talked about Manitoba nonfiction, Manitoba young adult fiction, and the challenges facing those who live outside Winnipeg. Myrna Kostash, rapporteur extraordinaire, summed it all up in a presentation about what she head and didn’t hear during the Symposium.
Over 30 papers on a startling array of subjects were presented. Photographs of Manitoba writers were displayed around the great hall, some of them from the University of Manitoba archives, and many by Tim Brandt taken during his time as owner of the Heaven Art and Book Café. A fascinating gallery exhibit provided a visual element with book- making as a starting point and a sound installation featuring the text of Kroetsch’s Seed Catalogue.
The celebration was brought to a rousing conclusion with the MWG 30th Anniversary Words and Music Cabaret on Saturday May 12th featuring Dave Maclean with Gilles Fournier, Daniel Roy and Ariel Posen, followed by Patrick Friesen in a moving return engagement with Marilyn Lerner in the first set. A spectacular 30th Anniversary butter cream cake provided by McNally Robinson’s Prairie Ink, was enjoyed during Intermission. The remarkable second set featured Charlene Diehl with Steve Kirby, followed by Margaret Sweatman with Glenn Buhr and the Broken Songs Band. Thanks to all writers, readers, presenters, panelists, performers, volunteers, organizers, sponsors, and funders who ensured the Symposium’s success.
Some of the proceedings of the Symposium will be available on our website this summer, with the Symposium’s proceedings site scheduled to be completed in time for the AGM in October.