The Squamish Chief, a local newspaper, recently published an article about the Quest Writers Conference happening this summer! They interviewed Jessamyn Smyth – the founder of the Conference – who gave insights into the fantasy that this conference will be for artists. Check out the article below:
“It is meant to be a writers’ fantasy week.”
Jessamyn Smyth, founding director of the first Quest Writers’ Conference, imagines the five-day June event as a chance for want-to-be scribes to gather in the majestic setting of the university for inspiration from international poets and authors, she said.
“My primary goal, especially for the first conference, was to be hiring faculty who were as gifted in teaching and as gorgeous human beings as they are writers,” said Smyth, herself a poet, author and teacher. “It will absolutely be a prima donna-free zone. Only the most generous teachers are the gifted writers that I want to bring.”
The conference will include workshops, editing, free time to write, agent and manuscript consultation and field trips, such as up the Sea to Sky Gondola.
Instructors will include poets Joy Harjo, Oliver de la Paz and Alicia Ostriker, essayist Rebecca Brown and author Gregory Orr.
Smyth said while it will be a generous atmosphere, attendees will be challenged to grow as writers and as people.
“They will be tough and they will be challenging and they will push people very hard, but they will do so with immense investment in the work on its own terms,” she said.
There will be about five fellows in addition to the conference faculty. The conference will accept a maximum of 100 writers.
“So there will be a faculty and fellow paired with 20 participants in the morning workshops,” Smyth said.
Smyth said the hope is that the conference will expand every year, but she said she never wants it to grow too big.
“Never to go above 300 or 350 at the most,” she said. “Once you grow past that, the intimacy is lost.”
According to Smyth, there is a community of hidden artists in Squamish and she hopes the conference will bring them out into the open.
“Almost everybody I run into, at a certain point when you get to know them, they are secretly a painter or they are secretly a sculptor, or they don’t call themselves an artist but they say, ‘I make stuff sometimes,’ or ‘I weld a little bit.’ And then you look at what they are talking about and it is this astonishing sculpture that they are building in their garage, and so there is all this hidden art here and I am hoping this can be one more place where all of the creative spirits can feel like, ‘Here is something that will nurture me,’” she said.
All of the conference’s evening activities are free and open to the public.
“It is this opportunity to hear these world-class readings that are really unusual to get to in a really intimate, beautiful environment – for free,” Smyth said.
The conference runs June 21-28. The application deadline is April 20.”
“The Quest Writer’s Conference, held at the intersection of sea and sky, glacial mountain and temperate rainforest, is itself a crossroads for each writer who attends.
Faculty of the conference are chosen for their generosity and ethics as teachers as surely as for the brilliance of their art. These poets who also write prose, hybridizers of fiction and non-, startlers of memoir, essay assayers, masters of sound, image, and style offer their experience writing at crossroads to open unlimited possibility for participants writing in all forms. Fellows and Scholars offer their unique and expert gifts to all participants. Every conference attendee is invited to both give and grow in a vibrant, intensive atmosphere of radically transformative community and joyous development of individual craft.
The Conference’s intentional and explicit focus on place as wellspring is amplified by the expressive power of British Columbia, where First Nations art is alive and thriving in hundreds of forms, Mount Garibaldi and Howe Sound fjord create daily awe, and powerful rivers and moss-drenched forests sing epics.
Through intensive classes with faculty, small workshops with editors and publishers, craft classes designed for QWC by Fellows and Scholars, and wide exposure to artists working at the top of their form, Conference participants will be energized and supported in their existing work, while also being challenged to transform in the new.
We look forward to meeting you and your art, and seeing what is created with each new convergence of writers in this astonishing and liminal place.
Learn more at: http://www.questu.ca/quest_writers_conference.html