Words are a gift, and though we use them every day, Edmontonians aren’t prone to calling themselves “writers” unless their passion for words actually hit a page. The thing is, we’re all writing history ‘write’ now. We’re all taking part, and adding our voices to a grander narrative that future generations will look back on. Even moreso, those of us with a penchant for pens are capturing it for those of us without, ensuring that we can all learn from the goodness we’re exhibiting together, right now!
That’s why we at The Local Good want to take today to celebrate literacy, literature, and knowledge, as well as the Edmonton writers whose minds have been brewing behind the closed doors of quarantine. We all know a few of them, these storytellers and poets and wordsmiths who have been finalizing manuscripts, collections, and individual tales, and we think they’re all worth celebrating today, for their words, and for the efforts they’ve made to keep us all looking forward through this pandemic.
Here are just some of the examples of the goodness that #yegwriters bring to Edmonton, and how to give back today:
Literary Literacy with Pandemic University
While in quarantine, a lot of us found ourselves looking to our bookshelves, tired of the netflix shuffle. Parents were in the same boat, becoming teachers to their children at home with teacher’s support from afar. Perhaps reflecting on the good that literature brings, and these strange and sudden changes, one literary local felt that a little extra creative education may be just what our city needs!
Yes, Omar Mouallem, Edmonton-based writer, journalist, and filmmaker just this year took to his network and found a series of writer, publishing, and journalism leaders who agreed to host a completely new online academic experience in Edmonton: Pandemic University: Pop-Up School of Writing (hashtag #unaccreditedAF).
Not only does the school provide excellent online courses for those learning to write, or upskill as they look for continued work, but by ‘attending’ a course, you’ll also be helping to support the many Canadian writers whose contracts have been delayed or cancelled entirely due to travel restrictions and public health protocols. Why not spend some time today perusing the school’s course-list, or use some spare cash to improve Edmonton and Canada’s literary outlook by signing up? You can also donate directly to the Canadian Writer’s Emergency Relief Fund or other similar causes like PEN Canada’s Writer in Exile program, that supports refugee writers forced to leave their countries due to the risks of their freedom of expression.
The Bookstores Bringing Writers Home
While we already celebrated some of our local book-loving businesses earlier on during The Local Goodness Project, we don’t know where we’d be if we didn’t have local bookstores who made sure to support the local writers we want to read. You can read that post here, but these great places are worth mentioning again, not just for their community building, but because they have been giving writers a platform long before our ‘new normal’:
“A great place to get started is at the iconic burgundy clad Audrey’s Books, located in the heart of Edmonton’s downtown. Audrey’s isn’t opening it’s doors right at this moment but they are still offering curbside pickup for shoppers who want choose books in advance!
If you would like to continue shopping safely online, it is also worth checking out what the Edmonton Book Store has to offer in their online store. The Glass Bookshop, a new favourite among Edmontonians thanks to an outstanding collection of both local and national queer, Indigenous, and BIPOC-friendly texts, is also still open online, and are continuing to offer delivery for clients.
The Wee Book Inn is another favorite among locals, regardless of whether they prefer it’s Whyte Ave or Jasper Ave locations. Regular clients will know that Edmonton’s premier used bookstore has the best vintage finds (another way you can shop local, but make it vintage). While both locations are now open with reduced hours, they are still open online offering unique packages of specially curated items from their shelves.
Open now to the public, you can also peruse the shelves of Mandolin Books in the Highlands neighborhood. Over on 124 St., you might also drop by The Prints and the Paper, who have an excellent selection of fun weird books and writing paraphernalia!”
Read Edmonton Writers
One of the absolute BEST things you can do to support Edmonton’s greatest story-tellers? Buy their books! Use your money today and get the best of both worlds: buy an Edmonton-local book purchased from an Edmonton-local bookstore!
Aren’t sure where to start? Click here for a great list of Edmonton books–though one of our team members says we should explicitly recommend Etta and Otto and Russell and James by local author, Emma Hooper! (It’s a real treat, she says). You can also be sure to check out LitFest‘s website for updates on how they’ll be tackling closures during their annual literary non-fiction festival this year, and make sure to help support local non-fiction writers and journalists as well!
Dust Off the Old Manuscript
Now, we talked about the writers who are already writing, but what about those who are aspiring writers only? Well, there’s no better time to start. Whether you have something to publish, want to get writing, or are looking to support local publishers in Edmonton, make sure to check out the list from Hingston & Olsen, based out of both Edmonton and Calgary, and to explore their publication process, as well as the processes of other canadian publishing houses. This can provide some great inspiration and focus for projects that may have been gathering dust. The house also provides some great gift ideas for Halloween and Christmas, all written by local and Canadian writers!
So why not? Put your Pandemic University courses to use and write a short poem about how you’ve dealt with quarantine. Pick up a blank piece of paper and just start writing. Even putting a pen to paper can be a great tool for your mental health, and it can allow you the freedom to explore the thought-spaces you wouldn’t (or couldn’t) otherwise. As they say, writing soothes the soul!
Who Are Your #YEG Good Reads?
If you’re looking for some other ways to support local writers, why not tell us what great works you’ve been reading by local and Canadian authors? Share your current pick, or choose a great quote from a recent read and link it behind our hashtag, #LocalGoodnessYEG!
Happy Reading Edmonton!