Joana Lilley will be the featured reader at Words on Fire on May 27. (PHOTO COURTESY MICHAEL EDWARDS)

Yukon writer reads at virtual Alberni Valley Words on Fire

Joanna Lilley will make her appearance on May 27

Yukon writer Joanna Lilley will pay a visit to the Alberni Valley Words on Fire open mic on Wednesday, May 27 at 7 p.m.

Lilley will make her appearance via video conferencing in the new digital version of Words on Fire hosted by Char’s Landing. She will be joined by regional feature reader Stephen Novik, the host of Alberni Valley Words on Fire.

READ MORE: Alberni Valley Words on Fire goes digital

Lilley is the author of three poetry collections: Endlings (2020/Turnstone Press), If There Were Roads (Turnstone Press) and The Fleece Era (Brick Books), which was nominated for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. She’s also the author of a novel, Worry Stones (Ronsdale Press), which was longlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award, and short story collection The Birthday Books (Hagios Press).

Lilley has given readings all across Canada and in the US and UK and has delivered workshops as far afield as Alaska and Iceland. Originally from Britain, Lilley moved to Canada in 2006, 15 years after cycling alone across the country from Nova Scotia to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. She lives in Whitehorse, Yukon, where she co-founded the Yukon Writers’ Collective Ink. Her work can be seen online at www.joannalilley.com.

Endlings takes readers across continents and through the long expanse of aeons to give voice to the dead. In poems that are lyrical, exact, and deeply melancholic, Lilley demands audience for the final moments of animal extinction. From the zebra-horse quagga and chiding dodo, to the giant woolly mammoth and delicate Xerces Blue Butterfly, the haunting, urgent words of these “endlings” cut to the bone to expose the brutality of nature and the devastating repercussions of human ignorance and intent, while giving hope that our humanity will help save what remains.

David Suzuki praised the book.

“We are so disconnected from nature, we think it’s the economy that makes our lifestyles and lives possible,” he said. “In fact it’s the complex web of nature within which we are inextricably linked and on which we are utterly dependent. When a species disappears, that complex web of life loses resilience and productivity. This book is a call to what we have lost within human memory. It’s a frightening reminder that Nature is our Mother and source of life.”

The regional feature reader will be Port Alberni’s own Stephen Novik, who got his start as a poet in Edmonton.

In 2013, Stephen self-published his first chapbook of poetry, WordSlinger’s Poemfolio, following that up two years later with his second chapbook, I Kill Me Sometimes. In 2015, Stephen became the Alberni Valley’s Words On Fire show host and co-producer. Whimmill Product, his third chapbook of unique, wacky light verse and humour, was released in 2017 to mark the fifth anniversary of his family moving to Vancouver Island.

Stephen has animatedly performed at other “open mics” around Vancouver Island, including Fanny Bay’s “Fat Oyster” Reading series, the Qualicum Acoustic Café in Qualicum Beach, Courtenay’s Poetry @ Red Tree, as well as both WordStorm and 15 Minutes of Infamy in Nanaimo.

He has appeared on stage at the Capitol Theatre in three Portal Players Dramatic Society productions and has appeared in fabulous and fun radio plays put on by the Art Matters Society and a few other theatrical productions under the banner of the Art Rave and the Solstice Festivals.

“I hope I inspire audiences to play and have fun with language, and that they too will someday soon step up to the mic to tell their stories, poems, jokes, songs, etc.,” said Novik. “You really can do anything you want. We are extremely blessed with so much hidden talent and creativity here in the Alberni Valley, and it’s time to show and grow.”

Words on Fire will be held on Zoom via links from Alberni Valley’s “WORDS ON FIRE”!! and Char’s Landing on Facebook and will be moderated on May 27 by Derek Hanebury. This will be an open-mic event, with readers welcome to sign-up to read starting at 6:30 p.m.

Participants can tune in using Zoom videoconferencing on their computers and phones. Links to the events can also be found on the Char’s Landing website and on the Federation of BC Writers’ website: BCwriters.ca.

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