Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

3rd Annual L3: Writers' Conference Dazzles Again

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By B. Adduono (iDeology teacher)

In only three short years, the L3: Writers’ Conference, organized and run by North’s iDeology students, has made history. It is now Ontario’s largest high school literary event and one of the bigger writers’ conferences in the province – period! iDeology has put Barrie, and especially Barrie North, on the literary map.

On April 15th & 16th, Barrie North hosted 25+ of Canada’s top novelists, poets, journalists, broadcasters, publicists, professors, activists and publishers.

Thursday kicked off with a rousing “Oh Yeah!” from the spirited Barrie’s official Town Crier, followed by our 2 keynote speakers, Y/A novelists Kelley Armstrong and Deborah Ellis. Close to 600 students received valuable information about how to write and insider details about what authors do to get their ideas, plan their books, write and revise and publish. This was followed by a Question/Answer period where students gained valuable insights and reinforced their enthusiasm for reading. Armstrong and Ellis graciously stayed an extra 30 min. in order to sign books and meet with students individually.

The next element of the conference was the 20 workshops where students met authors and publishers in smaller groups. Highlights included PEN Canada who talked about "freedom of expression" and made it real with Aaron Berhane from Eritrea, Africa and Petronila Cleto from the Philippines – two writers who had to flee their countries and found asylum and protection in Canada; PenguinGroup taught students how to go from idea to publication with 4 presenters: author, editor, marketing agent and publicist; Stephen Brunt, one of Canada’s most respected journalists, gave insider information about the Olympics and various sporting events; Dave Bidini talked about writing, writing songs, writing lyrics and his lifelong experience in Canada’s music industry. Every workshop was informational and attended by 220 students from all over Simcoe County and as far away as Bracebridge.

Thursday evening saw impassioned readings on the main stage. Each of the professional authors was bookmarked by terrific poem readings by iDeology students, Chris Gattrell, Jacob Cadenhead and Gavin Pounds. Students Lindsay Bell, Dan Paterson and Sam Heaman acted as emcees. The evening concluded with a dazzling reading, complete with imitations, by Stephen Brunt; Brunt read a scene from his latest book, Gretzky’s Tears, that had the crowd on the edge of its seats.

Friday we hosted a reading at Barrie’s Downtown Theatre, spotlighting local authors. Then Friday night, at Georgian College Theatre, five more authors presented their work. Lisa Foad was first with an edgy, urban tale; Lauren Kirshner stole our hearts with a mother-daughter dialogue; Rebecca Eckler bemoaned, humorously, the perils of a new baby; Ray Robertson presented an interesting look at the life of an ex-slave in Southwestern Ontario; then Kim Echlin, Giller Finalist, showed a video companion to her novel, The Disappeared, followed by an emotional reading.

The L3: Writers’ Conference is an annual event, so look for us in April 2011.

The conference is a unique and exciting way to promote literacy, get students excited about reading and writing, and offer the community a chance to experience some of Canada’s most admired writers and journalists.

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