EMWF Artistic Director, Susan Ratcliffe, discusses this year’s authors, the decline of print media, and what (& where) she’s reading today.
Mill Musings  The Special Treatment:  Why you should enter the EMWF contests and Fringe, with comments from Alison Pick and former winner Lisa McLean.
Margin Notes EMWF Literary Contest and Fringe Competition details
Young Writers Youth poetry contest
The Millwright Bookclub This month’s recommended reading
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Eden Mills Writers' Festival
September 16-18th 2016

May 2016

The Millwright:

Musings from the Eden Mills Writers' Festival

Vol. 27 No. 1 | CONTEST EDITION 


The Eden Mills Writers’ Festival has been described as a “literary picnic on the banks of the Eramosa River.”  This year’s Eden Mills Writers’ Festival takes place September 16-18th, 2016. We are thrilled to welcome a fantastic lineup of Canadian authors, poets, playwrights, nonfiction writers, YA authors, and more to the stage.  Our much-anticipated lineup will be announced in the coming months.  This year’s newsletter, newly named The Millwright: Musings from the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival will offer exclusive author interviews, announcements, Q&As and insights from those who bring the festival to you year after year.  Future newsletters will include flashback photos, recommended readings and upcoming events. 


Susan Ratcliffe, EMWF 2016 Artistic Director 

For our first Q&A of the year, The Millwright spoke with this year’s EMWF artistic director, Susan Ratcliffe. Susan has been chair of the Board of Directors of EMWF for the past six years, as well as a columnist, speaker, librarian, Pages of Our City host and Doors Open Guelph coordinator. Susan will take the reins as artistic director from Kim Lang, who has been setting the bar high for the past five years and continues to inspire and offer support from her position on the festival Board. 

MW:  How did you get involved with the EMWF?
SR: A friend of mine and I started volunteering on the gate in 1997 and I enjoyed it so much that I kept going back.  

MW:  Which authors you are particularly excited to be hosting in 2016?  
SR: I just finished Cordelia Strube’s book,  On the Shores of Darkness There is Light, and that was quite an amazing book so I look forward to meeting her.  Also Alissa York and Guelph’s Nicholas Ruddock.

MW: What is the selection process like for festival authors?
SR: We try to balance the established writers who have a following with the new ones.  We are especially interested when someone has read at the Fringe or has done the MFA program at Guelph, because that’s a great encouragement to local writers.  Kim Lang has been really great about getting the winner of the Giller Prize in past years.

MW: Do you have a favourite place and time to read?   
SR: Usually I read before I go to bed; it’s my favorite time.  I just started Nicholas Ruddock’s new book, The Night Ambulance -- I’m about 30 pages in. 

MW: What is your all-time favourite Canadian book?
SR: My favourite book is The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed by John Vaillant. It’s a wonderful story of Haida people … It’s amazing the way he weaves in the story of the First Nations, changes in Canada and the logging industry.  

MW:  You were a columnist at The Guelph Mercury, which folded this year.  Can you talk about the decline of print media and its relationship to books?  
SR: You know, the demand for ebooks seems to have levelled out.  People read them who are traveling or carrying a tablet anyway; most people I talk to want the print book. But it’s very sad about The Mercury and papers like it, it just had its 149th year. Losing the voice of Guelph is a tragedy, as it is for every community that loses their paper -- without a paper, the records are ephemeral.  Who knows what will happen to those digital copies.   

I still like to sit down in the morning with my newspaper and my coffee in my chair.  -- I have a chair by the kitchen door, the patio door, and so I can watch outside. That’s my quiet time.

Mill Musings

The Special Treatment: Why you should enter the EMWF Literary Contest and Fringe Competition
Longtime festival goer Lisa McLean won the EMWF competition for her short story, “Dwall” in 2012 and won again for her story “But her face” in 2015.  Although she has a business in writing and editing, she tries to make space for creative writing.   Before winning the 2012 competition, she had published just one story in This Magazine, placing third in their Great Canadian Literary Hunt for her story, “This side up.”  Both her EMWF winning stories have since found homes -- “Dwall” at The Antigonish Review and “But her face” in a forthcoming anthology.

“[The award] gave me some confidence to keep going,” says Lisa, “because once you start submitting and you’re getting positive feedback you feel encouraged. Writing can be a pretty lonely hobby, especially the creative stuff.” 

Lisa is a freelance writer and editor originally from London, Ontario, who spends summers in Newfoundland. She lives with her three children and husband in Guelph, Ontario. She has a piece forthcoming in Riddle Fence out of Newfoundland in spring, 2016. Last fall she won the Room Magazine contest for her story “Clenched.”  

Says Melinda Burns, one of this year’s judges, “We look for well-written, superbly crafted, beautifully rendered stories and poems that will read well on a sunny Sunday afternoon. We want to discover and present the new best writers on their way to the main stage.” Aspiring poets, novelists, short story writers, and playwrights can apply to either the competitions, The 
Fringe, or both. “The Fringe is an important venue, as it gives aspiring writers a voice and an audience, reading at a small but prestigious festival,” says Jane Hastings, Fringe manager. New this year, up and coming authors of creative nonfiction can also submit to a new, juried category.

“Give us your best-edited work. For stories, catch us right away with the first paragraph, keep up the momentum and end at the just right place. That's it,” says Burns. Former Fringe readers often come back as to the festival as published authors, including Alison Pick, Ania Szado, Cathy Marie Buchanan, Julie Wilson, Grace O’Connell, Nicholas Ruddock and Erin Bow.

Alison Pick, author of acclaimed novels Between Gods (2014) and Far to Go (2010), said reading at the Fringe in her early days as a writer allowed her “to feel part of a community of writers and readers, and to practice what it feels like to stand behind a microphone with my words. Many years later I'm still grateful to have participated.”

“The Eden Mills contest, in particular, is a friendly contest,” says Lisa. If nothing else, as any EMWF Fringe or competition winner, can attest, “It’s just nice to get a little bit of the special treatment.”

Margin Notes

Contest Information
The Eden Mills Writers’ Festival (EMWF) is pleased to announce it is now accepting submissions to this year’s Literary Contest, The Fringe, and the Teen and Children’s Poetry Competitions.

The EMWF is committed to providing a venue for unpublished or modestly published writers to showcase their work. The EMWF Literary Contest and Fringe Competition are open internationally to aspiring and/or modestly published writers over the age of 16.  

Writers can submit a short story, poetry collection, or NEW this year -- creative nonfiction.  The best entry in each category will win a $250 prize. Winners will be invited to read a short selection from their work at the Eden Mills Writers Festival on Sunday, September 18, 2016.  

See our website for submission details.

Submission Deadline: June 30, 2016

Young Writers

This year’s EMWF is pleased to continue to invite young people to enter the EMWF youth poetry competition.  This year’s youth competition theme is Roads and Journeys.  
Desmond Beddoe, contest coordinator and this year’s festival manager, says the jurors are looking for originality as well as “a poetic use of words to convey emotions, images and actions. For older youth, we look for writers who show an appreciation of metaphor.”  
Last year’s Teen poetry competition was won by Arianna Zimmerman for her poem, “Dreams of Conversion.”  “The contest offers young aspiring writers the opportunity to be part of a Canadian writers’ festival that has been host to every major Canadian writer of the past 20 to 30 years,” says Beddoe.  Check our website for submission details. 

Submission Deadline:  June 30, 2016
Dreams of Conversion
by Arianna Zimmerman
In my sunlit sleep
I sit here forever
Have my hip bones sink and liquefy
Then fuse to the rock as moss crawls
up my shins
and cedar finds fertilizer under my skull
then grows, cracking the top just a little bit
(they will soak up the blood)
Goldenrod would sprout up
through my fingers,
stretching sunlight imitations, towards the sky
slowly skin would crack and fall,
shedding a thin layer to reveal the shell
(rough, it’s seen—the rock covers slowly)
and finally, lichen would cover eyes, nose and mouth
(so I could do nothing but listen)

The Millwright Bookclub

Looking for something to read?
We're featuring popular books from the 2015 Eden Mills Writers' Festival this month.
Naomi Klein
This Changes Everything
Lawrence Hill
The Illegal
Anakana Schofield
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