Each summer the Klondike Visitors Association (KVA), working with the Dawson Community Library and the Writers’ Trust of Canada, honours the memory of four writers who have meant a great deal to the public profile and history of Dawson City and the Klondike: Jack London, Robert W. Service, Pierre Berton and Dick North.
The event begins with a writing contest, the rules of which were announced on May 30 in a press release inviting all writers to showcase their writing talents by writing “a northern-inspired piece of poetry or prose.” The contest will end on July 31, 2018, and winners will be announced at the annual Authors on Eighth Walking Tour on August 16.
In a news release, the KVA noted, “The contest features two categories (poetry and prose) and invites participants to be inspired by the writings of Pierre Berton, Robert Service, Jack London and Dick North—all authors who themselves have allowed the North to influence their writing.
“Prizes include real Klondike gold nuggets!”
Last year there were 29 entries in the event, from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and several countries in Europe. The Klondike Sun has been publishing the entries, beginning with the winners (alternating prose and poetry) since last September, and hopes to have them all in print before it’s time to begin the 2018 entries.
“Dawson City has inspired people to dream and create for years. Authors on Eighth celebrates the rich literary history of the Klondike and showcases current talented writers from around the world,” said Paul Robitaille, marketing and events manager of the Klondike Visitors Association.
Submissions are judged blind by a panel of local writers, including the current writer-in-residence at Berton House, who will be Giller Prize-nominated novelist Anakana Schofield at that time.
Contestants are asked to keep their submissions to 2,500 words, email them to the KVA at KVA@Dawson.net and to have their names and identifying information on a separate cover page.
The contest winners are announced during the annual Walking Tour, the walk known locally as the Writers’ Block, which stretches along Eighth Avenue. It is a collaborative effort of the KVA, which manages the Jack London Museum; Parks Canada, which manages the Robert Service Cabin; and the Writers’ Trust of Canada, which finances and manages the Berton House Residency with the assistance of the KVA and the Dawson Community Library.
This year’s Walking Tour will be on August 16, which is the actual date for the anniversary of the discovery of gold on Rabbit Creek (now Bonanza Creek) and, so, will be one of the opening events for this year’s Discovery Days weekend. The tour includes free admission to short forms of the usual presentations at the London and Service sites, an introduction to Berton House and the program there, a reading by the current resident writer and a tour of the residence, which happens only during this event.
The two-hour celebration generally attracts between 40 and 50 people.