SPARKS will take place on January 31st from 10 am. to 6 pm

The SPARKS Literary Festival was founded in 2009 by poet and professor Mary Dalton, who served as the festival’s director for the first 6 years. As she steps down this year, MUN’s English Department will more collectively take its reigns and keep the good thing going.

The one-day festival – split up in to 4 sessions with breaks in between – has always been a great showcasing of new and established voices, and of all genres coming out of the island. Or as the SPARKS website puts it, it is “meant to catch writers at various stages of their creative lives.”

There’s also a pop-up bookstore of sorts on hand, selling all participating authors’ books, and then some. The Seventh annual SPARKS festival will take place where it always does: The Suncor Energy Hall in MUN’s Music Building. There’s free parking and a free reception afterwards.

Session 1: 10-11:40

Session 1 will be chaired by Dr. Joel Deshaye, who will host readings and brief discourse with veteran heavyweight Joan Clark; multi-award-winning filmmaker and now author Jacqueline Hynes; Andrew Peacock, a former veterinarian who turned his tales of vet life in rural NL into an acclaimed non-fiction book called Creatures of the Rock; and Elisabeth de Mariaffi, a Giller Prize nominee whose novel The Devil You Know was one of the best Canadian novels of 2015.

Session 2: 1 – 2:20

Session 2 will be chaired by Dr. Larry Mathews, who will host readings and brief discourse with Journey Prize & Winterset Award nominee, Libby Creelman; short story scribe and Fresh Fish Award winner,  Dave Andrews; internationally acclaimed poet and critic Mary Dalton; and Megan Gail Coles, whose collection of short stories, Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome, made headlines and shortlists all year long.

Session 3: 2:40-4

Session 3 will be chaired by Dr. Danine Farquharson, who will host readings and brief discourse with non-fiction powerhouse Robert Finley; the poet-turned novelist, and witty prober of humanity, Patrick Warner; the innovative and award-winning and multi-disciplinary Sara Tilley; and as a special treat from Dublin, Nuala ní Dhomhnaill, “Considered the greatest living poet in the Irish language, she has won every major prize in her field.”

Session 4: 4:15-5:30

Session 4 will be chaired by professor and author Lisa Moore, who will host readings and brief discourse with; George Murray, currently making headlines for stepping down as St. John’s Poet Laureate in the wake of Arts Budget cuts; rising star Sharon Bala, whose year has included multiple award wins and publications; perhaps the province’s most acclaimed playwright, Robert Chafe; and visting from up in Canada, one of the country’s most exciting and acclaimed fiction writers, Heather O’Neill. O’Neill has won CBC’s Canada Reads with Lullabies for Little Criminals, and received extreme acclaim for The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Daydreams of Angels (both Giller finalists).

Award to Be Given Out + A Poetry Contest!

The Cox & Palmer SPARKS Creative Writing Award was established in 2012 by law firm Cox & Palmer to acknowledge outstanding achievement in any genre in the field of creative writing by a current or recent participant in Memorial’s creative writing courses. It’s a sizeable award, now worth $4000. And they really get it right, previous winners include: Randy Drover, Dana Evely, Iain McCurdy, Melissa Barbeau.

The deadline to submit to their poetry award is January 22nd. To read more about it, visit: