The Mississauga Writers Group is to be commended for another successful run of the Write On! Festival, which was held last week in the Noel Ryan Auditorium in the Central Library.

While the inaugural festival, in part, celebrated the release of the MWG’s latest anthology, the 2017 Write On! Festival doubled down by celebrating the release of two anthologies this year.

Word Fest: Celebrating Who We Are, is a collection of works submitted by Mississauga writers focusing on their personal lives and experiences, defining their individualism. These accounts drove home the MWG’s desire to celebrate the diversity of a city such as Mississauga, bringing together many cultures and histories to form a diverse metropolis.

This aim was continued with the second anthology. Canada, Our Home was prepared and released to coincide with Canada’s year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary. The MWG reached out to its members, as well as two different Mississauga schools, to assemble a collection of diverse views of Canada, ranging from a multitude of ages in an unprecedented move for the MWG.

The Write On! Festival 2017 continued its predecessor’s approach with special guest speakers. Councillor John Kovac well-crafted speech drew attention to the importance of creating an environment that nurtures the growth of culture and arts, highlighting the work of the City’s Culture and Arts Committee. The MWG members were delighted and honoured that Councillor Kovac as able to enjoy the entire Festival from start to finish demonstrating his strong commitment and support to local grass roots artists. Additionally, Diana Krawczyk represented the Mississauga Library system, in keeping with the MWG’s close ties with said system. Philip Pocock Catholic Secondary School’s Vice Principal Joe Zammit gave a touching account of the development of Canada, Our Home, involving his students’ entries into the anthology. Finally, tireless activist and noted MWG member Catherine Soplet spoke at length about her role as a strategist for Civic Engagement, and its role in the communities of Mississauga, and how this story found its way into Canada, Our Home.

Another returning feature of the Write On! Festival was the presentation of a short comedy piece, written by MWG members Kyle Climans and Jasmine Sawant. A sequel to the first festival’s “AA Meeting”, the play featured a large cast made up of MWG members as well as professional actors, many of whom are involved with Sawant’s Sawitri Theatre Group. Directed by Sid Sawant, the play surpassed the success of the first one, serving not just as a continuation of the first play, but surpassing the former’s scope.

The festival featured readings from both anthologies, with several of the writers on hand to personally read out their works. One of the entries came from a student at Philip Pocock, which Zammit read out with his student’s blessing. The entry was an emotional poem detailing the student’s immigration to Canada, and his adoption of Canada as his home. Noted poets and MWG members Michelle Hillyard and Susan Ksiezopolski read out works that they had submitted to both the anthologies. The final entry read by Vidya Vassant Gopaul – a powerful and tearful tribute to his father’s passing – was unquestionably an emotional highlight of the evening.

The festival’s MC John Fraresso paid tribute to the death of the Tragically Hip’s frontman, Gord Downie, by. Returning to the MC position from the previous year, Fraresso sported brazenly patriotic clothes to suit the occasion. He maintained a high level of energy, delightedly sharing anecdotes as the evening unfolded. Special credit for the evening’s success also belongs to the event’s caterer, Sandy Gmitrovic, who provided the food for attendees.

Overall, the 2017 Write On! Festival was a clear indicator that the MWG has tapped into a desire among Mississauga’s populace to continue to increase support the city’s art and culture scene. The efforts of everyone involved, at all levels, deserves praise for a successful continuation of what is surely to be a new tradition for both the MWG and Mississauga’s art community in general.

Author: Kyle Climans

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