The Word Vancouver festival is set for its 2016 edition with a massively inclusive lineup of authors, appearing at venues around town from September 21 to 25.
We asked a group of these much-admired writers to tell us about their finest reading experiences. Which books put a stamp on their imaginations early on? Which ones revealed to them the full powers of the written word?
Here’s what revered Vancouver musician and social advocate Bif Naked told us. She’s the author of the memoir I, Bificus, which she’ll discuss at 2 p.m. on September 25, on the fest’s Lions stage at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
Living in Vancouver, for a Good Prairie Kid like me, meant I had a great affection for Seattle, Washington. This was due to proximity and relatability. Post-punk, new-metal, thrash-grunge, Pacific Northwest Self-Identity Blossoming, I suppose. My first band, GorillaGorilla, opened for No Means No at Seattle's OK Hotel, sealing my fate as a “professional vocalist”, and I was hooked for good. In Seattle, I ate at Rocket Pizza, hung out with boys who shot drugs and rode sport bikes, learned about American cops, and was in the hellish place that the Gits’ Mia Zapata was murdered.
Five years later, in 1998, I was on my second solo record, really felt like I was coming into my own as a “feminist”, and then I learned about Seattle writer Inga Muscio and her book Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. My brain exploded. Her book educated and empowered me in a way no other writer, at that time, had. Cunt had such a huge impact on my feminism and self-awareness. I began to shed my shame and self-consciousness, and blossom as a female.
I felt like I was evolving into a more positive woman (read: a “cuntlovin” woman!) and wanted to change the world! And I still relate to Inga's writings, and her important, powerful words definitely lead me down a path of new self-respect, and lead to my learning to love myself, today.