Getting a new, multifaceted literary event off the ground is a challenge, to put it mildly. But the immediate success of Growing Room, the local feminist literary festival that had its inaugural five-day run last March, was no surprise. Like the fast rise of the #MeToo movement in a news year clotted with Trumps and Weinsteins, the gathering had an air of something long overdue.
Organizers are looking to build on this strong start with the lineup of Growing Room’s second edition, set to take place from March 1 to 4 in venues around Mount Pleasant. Joining luminaries from last year’s festival (such as celebrated poet and essayist Betsy Warland and fellow City of Vancouver Book Award winners Amber Dawn and Carleigh Baker) will be a powerfully diverse group of authors that includes Gurjinder Basran, Maggie de Vries, Ijeoma Oluo, Bev Sellars, Gwen Benaway, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Casey Plett, Farzana Doctor, and Caroline Adderson, to name just a few.
They’re the focus of a program comprising nine workshops and 16 panels and readings (many offering admission by donation). And when you’re not attending special events like the recording of Fainting Couch Feminists (a new podcast from the legendary Vancouver-based journal Room, whose publisher operates the Growing Room festival), you can, for a reasonable fee, run your own work past a team of writing mentors and editors featuring Anna Ling Kaye, Chelene Knight, Jen Sookfong Lee, and Adèle Barclay.
Like last year, the whole thing follows a big opening-night party at the Fox Cabaret.
Complete details will be revealed on January 15, and registration starts on February 1.
“Although the festival is branded as feminist,” the organizers’ announcement declares, “events are open to anyone with a passion for literature.” It’s a telling note of welcome that runs directly against the current of the times.