Wild Cards

The fourth edition of the Dawson Daily News Print & Publishing Symposium, part of the annual Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, is taking a walk on the wild side.

This year, the symposium’s popular Dawson Daily News Postcard Story Competition will challenge writers to capture the theme of “gone wild” in just 150 words scratched out on the back of a postcard. “We shy away from technology a bit more than similar competitions elsewhere,” explains Dan Dowhal, one of the organizers of both the symposium and the postcard story competition. “We actually make writers mail in a physical postcard with their work written on the back.”

Dowhal explains that the format for the postcards is openended. “They can write fiction, nonfiction, prose, or a combination; they can interpret the theme literally or metaphorically; we’re really looking for the artistry of the writing – not to lock people into a specifi c genre or style.”

The submissions will be judged by the current Berton House writer-in-residence, Emily PohlWeary, along with a previous Berton House writer.

The deadline for submissions of this year’s postcards was set earlier than in previous years to accommodate a new element of the program – the inclusion of a number of the postcards in a short-run booklet that will be physically produced during the symposium. “In the past, the symposium has had a strong focus on the publishing side. We have been working to expand the literary arts side of the programming as well,” Dowhal says. “Part of how we’ve been doing that is by tying portions of the programming together with the Dawson Writer’s Circle.”

Several years ago Governor General’s award-winning playwright Colleen Murphy set up a writer’s circle during her Berton House residency, to help encourage Dawson’s community of writers.

Since then many of the writers-in-residence have volunteered their time as mentors for this group. “It takes them out of their ivory tower,” Dowhal explains, “and they all seem to really enjoy the opportunity to become more involved in the community by helping to foster the local writing movement.”

The creation of the handmade booklet during the symposium is a way to bring more attention to that community of writers, he says. “Dawson’s musical and visual artists get a lot of attention, but we also have a thriving literary community that tends to fl y under the radar a bit more.”

Along with a selection of postcard competition entries, the booklet will feature short submissions from the local literary community along with some locallyproduced visual art. “In the past we’ve had the ability to produce a couple of pages or a few hand-cut images during the symposium, but we’ve always been limited by both time and technology to create anything more substantial,” Dowhal says. “We’re incredibly excited to actually create and publish a complete handmade piece of work in our time together.”

The Dawson Daily News Print & Publishing Symposium will take place August 14-16 in the historic former hub of publishing in Dawson City, the Dawson Daily News.

The 15th annual Yukon Riverside Arts Festival, co-ordinated by the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, takes place at various venues over the Discovery Days long weekend, August 13-16.

More information is available at http://www.kiac.ca/artsfestival/

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