• Past Festivals


Angie Abdou; Caroline Adderson; Antonia Banyard; Jill Barber; Richard Cannings; Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm; Elena Banfield; Amy Bohigian; Bob Bossin; Gail Bowen; Marilyn Bowering; Dave Butler; Jane Byers; Geordi Campos; Andrew Chesham; Kristin Cochrane; Linda Crosfield; Deryn Collier; Leesa Dean; Anne DeGrace; Eileen Delehanty Pearkes; William Deverell; Slava Doval; Robin DuPont; Esi Edyugan; Marina Endicott; Terry Fallis; Arin Fay, Stephen Fearing; Stephanie Fischer, Marya Follinsbee; Camilla Gibb; Pascal Girard; Allison Girvan, Gary Gottfriedson; Douglas Gibson; Susan Andrews Grace; R.M. Greenaway; Ernest Hekkanen; Tracy Hurren; Sarah Ivany; Ian Johnston; Vici Johnstone; Sean Arthur Joyce; Brian Kalbfleisch; Murray Kimber; Ross & Will Klatte; Joy Kogawa; Paul & Laura Landsberg; John Langille; Grant Lawrence; David Lawson; Marsha Lederman; Rayya Leibich; John Lent; Emma Leslie; Melanie Little; Thomas Loh; J.B. MacKinnon; Lee Maracle; Sid Marty; Ashok Mathur; Rolf Maurer; Micheline Maylor; Brendan McLeod; Rita Moir; Lisa Moore; Donna Morrissey; Jordan Mounteer; Barbara Curry Mulcahy; Susan Musgrave; Roz Nay; Greg Nesteroff; Rose Nielsen; Emily Nilsen; Dan Obradovic; Callum David Pengelly; Briony Penn; Kristene Perron; Mary Pinkoski; Steven Price; Kate Pullinger; Robyn Read; Verna Relkoff; Bill Richardson; Genevieve Robertson; Julian Ross; Whitney Rothwell; Craig Shemilt; Natasha Smith; Fred Stenson; Eija Stephenson; Samuel Stevenson; Ray Stothers; Clinton Swanson; Margaret Tessman; Deb Thompson; J.G. Toews; Magpie Ulysses; JohnVaillant; M. J. Vassanji; Eleanor Wachtel; Fred Wah; BessieWapp; TomWayman; Ian Weir; Calvin Wharton; Howard White; Sheri-D Wilson; Iona Whishaw; Nancy Wise; Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine & Kootenay Literary Competition & Richard Carver Award Winners.

Stephen Fearing brought his words and compositions as a singer-songwriter to the Fest, and even collaborated with poet Marilyn Bowering.


It was a year of words, music, and a bit of cross-pollination that left us intriqued, inspired, and satisfied. We introduced two workshops aimed at emerging writers: Lyric-crafting with Stephen Fearing, and Write for the Screen with Ian Weir. Both were fully subscribed, and participants had a great time–Lyric-crafters strutted their stuff for the rest of us, and yes, we really did sing along. Write for the screen drew both those writers looking to hone that skill as well as fiction writers looking for insight into plot and character development. Writer-in Residence Marilyn Bowering mentored, inspired, and gave us plenty to think about. Crime writers Judy Toews, Iona Whishaw, and William Deverell were good sports when being paired with BC wines, and rewarded us with their words. Saturday Night Live! presenters Marilyn Bowering, Stephen Fearing, and Ian Weir were riveting. Our panel discussions, as always, offered up great food for thought with topics around education, dark stories, and the “state of the art across” the disciplines. Bill Deverell enthralled writers and readers alike in his talk on his own craft entitled “Guilty as Charged.” Holly Hyatt and Stephen Fearing both brought musical sensibilities to EMLF 2019, along with the poetry of their words in song.


Creative Couples was the theme of EMLF 2018, offering us lots to think about: what sort of dynamic exists when creative people cohabit? And when both are a on a roll, who takes out the garbage? We invited Giller winner for fiction and fascinating literary personality Esi Edyugan and her husband, novelist and award-winning poet Steven Price, who charmed us with their words and humour. And we invited multi-genre, multi-award-winning writer Susan Musgrave and her husband, novelist, essayist, and erstwhile bank-robber Stephen Reid–and we were saddened, along with the rest of the country, when Stephen passed away shortly before the Festival. Susan, also our writer-in-residence, showed strength and courage as she chose to honour her commitment to the Fest, and we were thrilled to have her to meet with local writers, offer a talk on the writing craft, and join us for the Saturday Night Live! event. We mixed things up quite hoppily with the 100-Mile Opening Gala, pairing Nelson Brewing Company beers with authors Art Joyce, Jordan Mounteer, and Rayya Liebich, and we carried the beer theme through some micro-brewery hopping with Selkirk creative writing students offering readings on site and our own Clinton Swanson adding a dash of sax. Panel discussions went deep into creative coupledom, considered risk and resilience, and offered a glimpse into the world of mystery writing, not quite answering the question of whodunit, but coming pretty darn close.

Beer pairings with local authors at the 100-mile Opening Gala were a great culmination of a wonderful afternoon listening to words and music in some of Nelson’s microbreweries.


What an interesting mix we had in 2017. Headliners were celebrated Sto:Loh author Lee Maracle; Joy Kogawa, whose novel Obasan is a Canadian classic; and multi-talented Fred Stenson, who doubled as our 2017 Writer-in-Residence. Globe and mail Western Arts Correspondent Marsha Lederman interviewed all three on stage after their readings, which was such a nice addition that we invited her back in 2018. The 100-Mile Opening Gala celebrated four recently-published local authors—poets Jane Byers and Emily Nilsen, fiction writer Leesa Dean, and creative nonfiction author Eileen Delahanty Pearkes—with each hilariously paired with a Kootenay wine. Panel discussions focused on creativity and featured Calgary poet laureate Micheline Maylor, local arts movers and shakers, and our visiting writers. In 2017 we said goodbye to Executive Director Lynn Krauss (off to new things in Vancouver) and welcomed incoming ED Natasha Smith.

Folks had an awful lot of fun at the 2017 Opening Gala. Here Renee, Leesa, Natasha and Samara take a few moments out to pose for the camera.


New at EMLF 2016 (July 6 – 10) was the Holley Rubinsky Memorial Blue Pencil Sessions with our Writer-in-Residence, novelist and children’s author Caroline Adderson. Ten writers benefited from one-on-one critique, and nearly 100 people packed the Nelson Public Library for a free talk on the writing craft. More readers and writers than ever enjoyed presentations and panels: the 100-Mile Opening Gala–a festival favourite–at the Hume Hotel featured songstress/author Jill Barber, author Grant Lawrence, and local award-winners along with food and Creston wine pairings. Friday night’s Reading the Earth panel at the Capitol Theatre enhanced great words with great images on the big screen brought to us by Richard Cannings, Briony Penn, and J.B. MacKinnon, Daytime Saturday panels with guest presenters and local experts explored ecological writing, children’s writing, and publishing. Saturday Night Live! brought us back to the Hume, where Caroline Adderson and CBC broadcaster, author, and all-around funny guy Bill Richardson charmed the house.

Children’s author and jazz chanteuse Jill Barber was a 100-Mile Gala highlight.


Creativity was highlighted at the 4th Elephant Mountain Literary Festival, July 10 to 12. The 100-Mile Gala at the Adventure Hotel celebrated the local with readings, food, and Creston wine pairings in an event that has become a festival favourite. Daytime Saturday panels explored the creative process with local luminaries and special guests, including the celebrated authors who also appeared on stage at the Capitol Theatre at the Saturday night All-Star Reading. These were: Governor-General’s Literary Award-winner Kate Pullinger, Commonwealth Writer’s Prize-winner Marina Endicott, and beloved songwriter and memoirist Bob Bossin. A pre-festival writing intensive with Fred Wah and a youth storytelling workshop rounded out EMLF’s 2015 offerings.

GG-award winner Kate Pullinger illuminated audience members on writing in a multi-media world.


An all-star cast of visiting authors in 2014 included Angie Abdou (The Canterbury Trail), First Nations poets Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm and Gary Gottfriedson, mystery novelist Gail Bowen, publishing legend and author Douglas Gibson, author and musician Sid Marty, Donna Morrissey (The Deception of Livvy Higgs), poet Barbara Curry Mulcahy, spoken word poet Mary Pinkoski, and CBC host of Writers & Company Eleanor Wachtel, joining West Kootenay authors Jane Byers and Deryn Collier. From the publishing side of things we welcomed Craig Shemilt (Island Blue Print).

The Opening Social was a mix of visiting authors and locals, and as ever, a lot of fun. Eleanor Wachtel and Gail Bowen rocked the Capitol Theatre. Audiences were engaged by our Mystery and Indigenous Publishing panels, a self-publishing presentation, a youth storytelling workshop, and Douglas Gibson’s multimedia presentation, Stories about Storytellers, on the Civic Theatre stage.

Panel discussions get to the heart of literary matters.


Building on the success of our inaugural year, we reached out to notable Canadian authors and were met with enthusiasm from Terry Fallis (Best Laid Plans), Camilla Gibb (Beauty of Humanity Movement), award-winning graphic novelist Pascal Girard, Okanagan College dean and celebrated author John Lent, spoken word artist Brendan McLeod, and Governor General’s Award and Giller Prize winner M.G. Vassanji. Visiting publishers were Kristin Cochrane (McClelland & Stewart), Tracy Hurren (Drawn & Quarterly), and Howard White (Harbour Publishing).

Our lovely locals included Elena Banfield, Jane Byers, Linda Crosfield, Art Joyce, Will Klatte, Magpie Ulysses, Tom and Wayman. We had lively panels, illuminating discussion, great inspiration, and a lot of fun.

The Gala crowd gets ready for a night of unforgettable readings.


What a literary celebration our first year was! We knew we’d started something good when some of Canada’s foremost authors, editors, and publishers agreed to join us. They were authors: Lisa Moore (February), John Vaillant (The Tiger), parliamentary poet laureate Fred Wah, and “the mama of Dada” spoken word poet Sheri-D Wilson, and publishing professionals: Vici Johnstone (Caitlin Press), Melanie Little (House of Anansi), and Sarah Ivany and Robyn Read (Freehand Books).

Our talented local authors were the queens and kings of the Gala Opening, and included Elena Banfield, Geordi Campos, Jennifer Craig, Anne DeGrace, Susan Andrews Grace, Ernest hekkanen, Kindredheart (la marie), Will Klatte, Laura Landsberg, Paul Landsberg, Rita Moir, Eileen Delehanty Pearkes, and Samuel Stevenson.

Special events and courses included our Gala Opening (in which we paired fine wines to fine words), a Spoken Word Cabaret, a gala Reading, a spoken word workshop with Sheri-D Wilson, panels on publishing, writing the local, and shaping the local, and the opportunity for writers to pitch their projects to a literary agent.

Sound poet Sheri-D Wilson captivated the crowd.

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