Richard Van Camp brings his storyteller’s voice to the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s All-Star Event on July 10 and also offers a talk on writing for children on July 8. Photo: William Au

FESTIVAL TALES: Starstruck at the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival

Anne DeGrace on the festival's All-Star Event on July 10

One of Chaucer’s characters wondered if he might become “stellified.” Shakespeare coined the term “star” for notable achievers. And so that celestial moniker entered our lexicon thanks to writers who never imagined a future of social media stardom based on “likes.”

There’s a lot to like in the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s All-Star Event on Saturday, July 10 at 7 p.m., and it’s a whole lot more substantive than any Kardashian. These featured writers have earned their stellification through hard work, skill, and talent. All events at this, EMLF’s 10th anniversary year, are online, free of charge (donations welcome), and accessible anywhere. All you have to do is register at

For this signature event we take four authors representing the breadth of literary accomplishment, invite them to strut their stuff in one stellar evening, and let the dulcet tones of everyone’s favourite CBC arts show host tie it all together. Read on.

Richard Van Camp is star to a swath of readers from teethers to long-in-the-toothers. A member of the Dogrib Nation, he brings his indigeneity and his storyteller’s voice into every book, from Welcome Song for Baby, to Moccasin Square Gardens. Richard has written more than a dozen books for babies, children, teens, and adults, and his work can be read in English, French, and Cree. In addition to enjoying this stellar storyteller at the All-Star Event, Richard offers a free talk, “Writing for children,” on Thursday, July 8 at 5 p.m.

Carla Funk grew up in Vanderhoof, which is where she set her beautiful new memoir Every Little Scrap and Wonder: a Small-Town Childhood. She told the Victoria Festival of Authors that: “as kids, our days rise and fall with the sun and moon, are marked by stars and snow and a birch tree’s leaves going to fire.” If that sounds poetic, it’s no surprise: Carla has also published five books of poetry and was the City of Victoria’s inaugural Poet Laureate — which is why it’s so great that she is also teaching the workshop “Poetry in Motion” at EMLF.

Clem Martini has more than 30 plays and 10 books of fiction and nonfiction to his credit, including the award-winning Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness and the internationally acclaimed young adult trilogy The Crow Chronicles. In addition to acquiring star status amongst connoisseurs of the craft, he helps others reach for their astral best through his books on playwriting and as the Chair of Drama in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary. He teaches a playwriting workshop at EMLF called “Curtains Up!” and will wow us with his words at the All-Star Event.

Jenna Butler’s research into endangered environments has taken her from Tenerife to the Arctic Circle, and her explorations have given rise to three critically acclaimed books of poetry, a travelogue, an award-winning book of ecological essays, and her recent essay collection: Revery: A Year of Bees. She’s a professor of creative writing and environmental writing at Red Deer College, and she lives on an off-grid organic farm where the night sky, unfettered by city lights, undoubtedly provides inspiration (how could it not?). Jenna also teaches EMLF’s nature writing workshop “Wild Words” and offers Blue Pencil critique sessions.

And those dulcet tones? That’s Sheryl MacKay, host of CBC’s North by Northwest, where for 20 years she has interviewed artists of all kinds. She talks to stars both established and rising about their creative journeys with grace and passion, and she’ll chat with our authors after their presentations.

We have enjoyed a universe of inspiration through a decade of literary luminaries at the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival, with more to come — and for that, we thank our lucky stars.

EMLF 2021 has a chock-full schedule of talks and readings by fascinating writers, panel discussions, and workshops. Follow this weekly column leading up to the festival and go to for all the details.

Nelson Star