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New reading series in Vernon back for second session after successful launch

The second edition of Valley Voices takes place May 10 with Kelowna and Vernon authors
Published author Hannah Calder will read from her works at the second Valley Voices reading series at Vernon’s Bean Scene May 10, 2023. (Submitted photo)

After a successful launch earlier this month, a new reading series in Vernon is moving onto the next chapter.

Valley Voices launched in Vernon April 19 during National Poetry Month. An enthusiastic crowd packed the upstairs area of Vernon’s Bean Scene Coffee House to listen to award-winning poets Michelle Poirier Brown, Nancy Holmes and Sharon Thesen, who read from their respective works.

The evening turned out to be an example of the talent that can be found around the Okanagan, and it also demonstrated the supportive network that exists among writers and readers, according to Vernon poet Michelle Doege, one of the organizers of the event.

“It has been many years since we have been able to gather in such a momentous way and it was obvious that the desire to hear from our collective voices is still there,” Doege said.

Coming up in May, it’s time for the second session in the series. Valley Voices will continue to attract lovers of the written word when Okanagan writers Corinna Chong and Hannah Calder gather for an intimate storytelling session at Bean Scene May 10 at 7 p.m.

Both writers are Okanagan College professors and published authors.

“I’m thrilled to see a new reading series that showcases the incredible community of writers we have here in the Okanagan,” says Chong, of Kelowna. “Writing can be a lonely and discouraging endeavour, so being able to gather with and soak up the work of other artists is essential creative fuel.”

Calder, who teaches English and creative writing at Okanagan College, is also enthusiastic about seeing a new live event open up to writers, recalling that when she first moved to Vernon from Vancouver, she got her spoken word fix by attending readings at Gallery Vertigo, when it was located on the upper floor of the historic Winnipeg Union Bank building at 31st Street and 30th Avenue.

“It was a space that felt artsy and hip, and the readings I attended there had a big-city vibe to them. I would encourage my creative writing students to attend and write reviews of the events, and I even used the space for an end-of-term class reading,” said Calder.

“I am happy to hear that writers across the Okanagan and beyond will be able to connect with one another via the Valley Voices reading series. This is exciting news for all of us in the valley who write and who enjoy attending live readings.”

Like Calder, Chong — who teaches creative writing and a number of other courses at Okanagan College — hopes that students and anyone else who loves books and writing will attend the event.

“As much as it’s challenging to juggle my day job with my work as a writer, teaching keeps me on my toes. I’m always discovering new books and writers, and reading my students’ work inspires me to keep learning and honing my own creative projects,” Chong says.

Chong will launch her new short story collection, The Whole Animal, which was published this spring.

Chong won the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize for Kids in Kindergarten. Her first novel, Belinda’s Rings, was published by NeWest Press in 2013.

Calder has published two novels, More House (2009) and Piranesi’s Figures (2016), both with New Star Books in Vancouver. She is currently working on a third novel, a book of stories and a non-fiction book about winter swimming.

“I’m excited to hear stories from Corinna’s new book,” said Calder. “Corinna is at the end of a project, while I’m closer to the middle. In fact, I have a few projects on the go –– all of them hovering around that middle-stage of development. I’d like to share a snippet from each one at the reading in May.”

The next Valley Voices takes place at Bean Scene’s upper floor at 2923 30th Avenue on May 10 at 7 p.m. Admission is free and refreshments, treats and books will be available for purchase.

For more information, visit Valley Voices Okanagan on Facebook.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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