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‘Turn up the heat’

Seventh SPARKS to light up January

Campus and Community

By Janet Harron

Recently named St. John’s favourite literary festival/reading series by local media outlet The Overcast, the annual SPARKS Literary Festival will be held at the Suncor Energy Hall in Memorial’s School of Music on Sunday, Jan. 31.

There are some changes afoot to the seven-year-old festival. In 2015 Mary Dalton stepped down from her duties as festival founder and director; the festival is now being organized by the Department of English. Department head Dr. Jennifer Lokash worked with the department’s caucus of creative writers to put together this year’s program of 16 authors.

“I love how SPARKS brings together an incredibly talented community of writers and readers to turn up the heat on an often blustery January day,” said Dr. Lokash. “We are so excited about the lineup and events at this year’s festival, which promises to crackle with the same kind of energy as it has in past years.”

Irish poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill looks to the left of the frame.
Irish poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill will attend this year’s SPARKS Literary Festival.

As in previous years, the lineup for SPARKS includes a wide range of writers from promising students to award-winning playwrights and novelists, translators and poets. This year poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, considered by many to be the greatest living writer in Irish, will visit St. John’s for the first time to attend the festival. The complete list of writers includes David Andrews, Sharon Bala, Robert Chafe, Joan Clark, Megan Gail Coles, Libby Creelman, Mary Dalton, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Robert Finley, Jacqueline Hynes, George Murray, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Heather O’Neill, Andrew Peacock, Sara Tilley and Patrick Warner.

The festival will continue to be organized into four sessions, each of which will feature readings in a variety of genres and voices.

The event also features various displays reflecting the variety of ways literature is produced in Newfoundland and Labrador. ISER Books, the Newfoundland Quarterly and literary journals Riddle Fence and Paragon will be among those displaying work. The Memorial University Bookstore will be on hand to sell books by all participating writers.

With the support of Brown Fitzgerald Morgan & Avis, SPARKS is once again sponsoring a poetry competition. This year submissions are welcome on any subject in any style or form. Cash awards for three poems will be awarded at the festival and the deadline for submitting entries (sparkspoetry@mun.ca) is Jan. 22.

The $4,000 Cox & Palmer SPARKS Creative Writing Award was established in 2012 and acknowledges outstanding achievement in any genre in the field of creative writing by a current or recent participant in Memorial’s creative writing courses. The winner will be announced during the festival’s closing events.

The SPARKS Literary Festival will be held from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31, at the Suncor Energy Hall in the School of Music. An evening reception will follow the daylong event. Admission is free and parking will be available in lot 15B.

Further details on the festival, the poetry competition and a complete schedule can be found here.

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