Island writers — local literature and lore

Author Arthur Black reading during a Salt Spring event.
Author Arthur Black reading during a Salt Spring event.

Many renowned poets and writers of both fiction and non-fiction works call the Gulf Islands home.

Salt Spring Island is where you’ll find people like award-winning humour writer and CBC broadcaster Arthur Black, who shares his wit and generous spirit at various events throughout the year.

Other Salt Spring literary names to watch for include Brian Brett, Ron Wright, Kathy Page, Robert Hilles, Mona Fertig, Kevin Patterson, Derek Lundy, Peter Levitt, Roger Brunt and George Sipos. As of December 2012, their books are part of the collection at the new Salt Spring library on McPhillips Avenue in Ganges, which has quickly become a community hub.

Salt Spring is also the centre for a publishing company specializing in B.C. art history, fine art and literature titles. Among Mother Tongue Publishing’s titles is 111 West Coast Literary Portraits — photos of B.C. writers by Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright with some words from each writer. An accompanying exhibition travelled around B.C. after its launch last year.

Mayne Island writers include Robert Harlow, who in 2012 released Faraday Comes Home: A Novel, and Grant Buday, whose 2011 novel Stranger on a Strange Island – From Main Street to Mayne Island is an enlightening and humourous read for city dwellers pondering a move to the islands.

Galiano Island is a rich literary centre, with writers such as Audrey Thomas and Linda Richards, and Galiano Island Books hosted its fourth annual Galiano Literary Festival in February of 2013.

Pender Island’s authors include crime novelist and Dashiell Hammett award-winner William Deverell, Zoe Landale, and Andrea and David Spalding. The Spaldings’ latest book is a beautiful cookbook and celebration of Gulf Islands food called Seasonings: Flavours of the Southern Gulf Islands.

Stephen Hume now calls Saturna Island home, with his latest work the 2011 book of essays called A Walk with the Rainy Sisters: In Praise of British Columbia’s Places.

Gabriola Island is home to one of Canada’s most celebrated authors of literature for young people. In 2011, Iain Lawrence won the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children’s Literature, acknowledging his entire body of work. He also won the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature for his book called Gemini Summer.

Books by Gulf Islands authors are available at local bookstores and other retail outlets.

As well, watch for free or by-donation literary events put on by groups such as the Salt Spring Forum, Theatre Alive!, the Salt Spring Public Library or ArtSpring on Salt Spring Island, Poetry Gabriola on Gabriola Island, or bookstores on the islands.

Photo/media credit: Shari Macdonald