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Gala screenings for Why We Write: Poets of Vernon showcase work of OC faculty

English Professor Hannah Calder reads while sitting in her home office by a window

A documentary that began in 2017 will screen next week with its first screenings. 

The project, produced and directed by OC English Professor and self-proclaimed budding filmmaker Hannah Calder and Curtis Emde is having upcoming gala screenings at the end of the month in Vernon. 

Why We Write: Poets of Vernon features the thriving writing community in the North Okanagan community. Calder and Emde wanted to showcase poets who were born in Vernon, who have chosen to live their lives in the valley and the Syilx storytellers who have long been on this land.  

Calder acts as the viewer’s guide through the rich writing landscape as she speaks to writers, bookmakers and storytellers.  

“It feels like a really nurturing community and a supportive one as far as my experience goes,” says Calder. “I think John Lent probably has had a lot to do with some of it. He’s fostered writing in this community in a big way.” 

Lent is a poet, novelist and singer/songwriter. He taught creative writing and literature courses at Okanagan College in 1979 and inspired many writers before his retirement in 2011. 

Lent is one of many subjects in the film, including Bill Cohen, Michelle Doege, Kerry Gilbert, John La Greca, Laisha Rosnau, Harold Rhenisch, Sharon Thesen, Clare Theissen, Tom Wayman and Gerry William. Many individuals have connections to OC’s English and Fine Arts Department. 

Calder mentioned that she is thinking about taking the documentary to writing festivals, as she imagines that writers will resonate with the film. 

"One of our goals was to show the feeling I had when I arrived here, that I was moving to a sort of cultural desert, was wrong -- on so many levels," Calder explains, looking back upon her experience making the film. "I discovered a rich, vibrant writing community here that has sustained me since my arrival." 

Tickets are sold out for the first three gala screenings, starting April 29. You can follow the documentary at The Orange Lamphouse Studio on Facebook or on their website at for more information on future screenings. 

You can view the trailer here.

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