Yellowknife writers of all genres and skill levels are invited to the first NorthWords open mic in more than a year, and only the second since the beginning of the pandemic.

For more than 15 years, the NorthWords Writers Festival has been Yellowknife’s main forum for up-and-coming writers to showcase their work. On Saturday, April 2, the festival will present Gather: A Spoken Word and Storytelling Open Mic. Writers of all backgrounds are invited to present written works of any kind before a live audience. The festival society will also announce the winners of the 2021 NorthWords Book Awards.

“It could be somebody who has a novel excerpt, or it could be a really experienced poet or novelist from our community, or it could be somebody who just, you know, thinks they’re funny and wants to get up and tell a couple of jokes,” says NorthWords board president Robyn Scott. “As soon as I found out that the (Covid) restrictions in one way or another will be lifting April 1, I told my employees, ‘Find us a stage. We need one as soon as possible.’ And it was challenging, but we found one.”

The Elk’s Club will serve as the venue this time around.

The last in-person NorthWords event was the Northern Love open mic in February 2021.

“And even then it was a very different experience,” says Scott, “We had it at NACC, we had limited seating — it was, you know, a very, very pared down version of what we’ve had (previously).”

This makes the April 2 event only the second in-person NorthWords festival since the beginning of the pandemic.

Aside from the 19-and-up age limit due to the Elk’s Club being a licensed establishment, there are no barriers to entry for performers.

“And so I hope that somebody who’s never taken the stage before is willing to give it a go and brings all of their friends with them,” says Scott. “It’ll be so nice to get together again and celebrate writing and storytelling as as we used to. So I’m looking forward to that.”

Performers will take the stage at Elk’s Club on April 2 at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:30 p.m. The deadline to sign up is March 31, and performers get free entry to the event. For non-performers, tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.

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