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Tri-City Wordsmiths hosts free writers, readers' fest during May Days

JJ Lee, Rob Taylor and Richard Dal Monte to speak at the inaugural Readers and Writers Festival in Port Coquitlam on Saturday, May 6.

For novelists, poets, journalists, editors and book lovers looking to be surrounded by fellow writers and words, a feast for the eyes and ears is on the way this weekend.

And it’s tied to the City of Port Coquitlam’s 100th anniversary of May Days.

On Saturday (May 6), Tri-City Wordsmiths will host its first Readers and Writers Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Port Coquitlam Community Centre (2150 Wilson Ave.).

Sponsored in part by the municipality, the PoCo Community Foundation and the Port Coquitlam Arts Council, the inaugural event will see workshops, blue pencil sessions, a book fair, readings and an open mic, as well as arts and writing activities during the day.

Pandora Ballard, past president and co-founder of the Tri-City Wordsmiths, told the Tri-City News that the upcoming gathering is gaining a lot of buzz in writing communities that are eager to meet in person again after three years of pandemic restrictions.

“It’s very exciting getting writers together,” Ballard said. “There’s a lot of energy and it’s great to hear what everyone is working on. It’s also a great place to find inspiration.”

Ballard, who started the Tri-City Wordsmiths a decade ago with Stefano Mazzega and Anna Raasveldt, said the nonprofit now boasts 50 members who meet every other month in the Terry Fox Library, which is also inside the PoCo Community Centre.

For the literary fest, there is “something for everyone,” Ballard said, noting the program will flow between the Mabbett Room and Wilson Lounge on the first floor and the JB Young Room and Laking Room on the second floor of the rec centre.

Here’s the line up:

  • 9:45 a.m.: Opening remarks (JB Young Room)
  • 10 a.m.: The History of Tri-City Wordsmiths (JB Young Room)
  • 10 a.m.: Book fair and market hall open (Mabbett Room)
  • 11 a.m.: The Writer–Narrator–Main Character Split: Memoir work with JJ Lee (JB Young Room)
  • 1 p.m.: It is Never too Late to Start Writing, for seniors with Gisela Woldenga (Wilson Lounge)
  • 1 p.m.: Poetry Reading and Panel, hosted by Rob Taylor with Jude Neale, Dr. Bonnie Nish and Winston Le (JB Young Room)
  • 1 p.m.: Blue pencil sessions, 30 minutes of editing with Rhea Rose, John Mavin and Margie Taylor (Laking Room; registration required for paid feedback)
  • 2 p.m.: The Road to Publication with Colleen Van Niekirk, Farida Somjee and Bill Arnott (JB Young Room)
  • 3 p.m.: News Writing is a Career Choice with Angela Sterritt and Richard Dal Monte (JB Young Room)
  • 3 p.m. Slam Poetry Workshop and Telling our Truths, for youth with Izzy Hébert (Wilson Lounge)
  • 4 p.m.: Mystery writer discussion with Iona Whishaw about her new novel To Track a Traitor (JB Young)

Meanwhile, Ballard said the festival will also include entertainment, raffles and a silent auction.

For details or to sign up for a blue pencil session, visit