WIN Hearts and Souls for Literary Harmony: 2012 Awards

First inaugural Literary Festival of

Writers International Network (WIN)

held Saturday, March 24 at Richmond Cultural Centre.

This event brought together over 150 people including writers of diverse backgrounds and genres. The objective of this event was to recognize talent and to bring writers of all Colours into mainstream Canadian literature, and to provide an opportunity to network.

Ashok Bhargava, founder of Writers International Network says:
‘WIN will strive to unite the hearts and souls of writers to bring creativity, knowledge and joy to them. An artist’s gift to the world is a poem, story, painting, sculpture or dance. WIN will seek, nourish and recognize all sorts of artists so that together they can make this world a better place to live. Writing is an art that is deeply rooted in self-reflection. Self-reflection is the human capacity to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about our fundamental nature, purpose and essence. In other words, self reflection is who we see when we look in the mirror. Self reflection is also about taking the time to figure out who we are, both as individuals and as leaders.  WIN is created to fulfil the need of an environment where the work of an artist is appreciated and recognized no matter what background, what language or what cultural heritage that artist belongs to.’

Mr. Bhargava’s personal conviction is to create an organization where poets, writers and artists can connect with each other and with the community at large. ‘If you are a writer you belong here’, he says. ‘There is no membership and no fees and WIN is there to recognize and appreciate your creativity. Wow, that sounds great! The essence of writing is in giving to the world something to read. We write without knowing if someone would read it or not. It doesn’t matter if they love or hate it; you are going to write it anyway. If we appreciate a writer’s work and recognize it on its own merit, it would lift an incredible weight off his/her shoulder and make him or her happy.’

Bhargava’s greatest dream is to see the results of his creative work and everyone else’s work to realize their utopia in this world. To realize that a writer’s immediate environment is the training ground for the soul and the spirit of his or her writing world. Every day there’s work to be done to improve thoughts, actions and writing skills. He says, ‘If WIN could inspire just one person through appreciation and recognition that would be a true moment of miracle for it’s existence.’

WIN believes that we must write what we want to write not what others want us to write. Writing is self expression and must not be driven by commercialism though of course being successful commercially does not hurt at all.

WIN awards are to recognize, appreciate and understand the author. These awards are not based on comparing one’s work with others and determining the winner but understanding what a writer is saying and recognizing the message the author is trying to convey. In other words, writers are recognized for the real merit of their work.

Award categories are – Published writers and poets, Unpublished writers and poets, Emerging Artists (poets, writers, artists, dancers, painters etc), People’s Laureate, and Outstanding Citizens.

This year’s award recipients are: Evelyn Lau, Ariadne Swayer, Ashok Bhargava, Joanne Arnott, Ahn Bong Ja, Manga Basi, Fauzia Rafique, Janet Kvammen, Brajinder Dhillon, Tomothy Shay, Alan Hill and Mahendra Kwatra.

WIN’s First Literary Festival was hosted by Writers International Network in collaboration with India Club of Vancouver. WIN is also thankful for support provided by:
Indo-Canadian Association of Abbotsford
South Asian Literary Society of Canada
Urdu Association
Hindi Literary Society
Panjabi Lekhak Munch
Kendriya Lakhari Sabha Uttari America
BC Kavya Kendra
Chetna Association
Group of Poets International
Tagore Society of Vancouver
Nepali Writers Group
Pandora’s Collective
Poetic Justice
World Poetry Reading Series
Global Poetry
Poetry Beyond Cultures

Short biographies of 2012 winners will follow.

Contact Ashok Bhargava at:

First Annual Literary Festival – Canada’s Best 2012 Awards: March 24







The 1st Annual Literary Festival
Writers International Network
Saturday, March 24, 2012
12.30 PM to 4.30 PM
Richmond Cultural Centre/Library
7700 Minoru Gate Richmond, BC

The event brings together writers of diverse backgrounds and genre to develop better appreciation and fuller awareness of the art of creative writing. The objective of this event is to provide an opportunity to network, socialise and to recognize talent.


More info:
Call Ashok Bhargava

Invocation and welcoming address
Ashok Bhargava
Featured Poets/Writers
Candice James, Bonnie Nish, Manolis Aligizakis, Eva Waldauf, Sylvia Taylor, Meharoona Ghani, Bernice Lever, Michelle Rickaby, Bernice Lever, Theresa Chevalier, Ben Nuttal-Smith, Patricia Donahue and Alejandro Mujica-Olea
South Asian features
S.P. Dwivedi, Suresh Kurl, Ehsan Choudhary, Inderjit Sidhu, Madhu Varshney, Mankajee Shreshtha, Surjeet Kalsy and Hardev Sodhi “Ashk”
Open Mic
Bonnie Quan Symons, Avia Mana, Farina Reinprecht, Angela Edwards, Ibrahim Honjo, Una Bruhns, Sho Wiley, Patricia Donahue, Jacqueline Maire, Lilija Valis, Selene Bertelson and Ceri Naz
Award Presentations
Evelyn Lau, Joanne Arnott, Brajinder Dhillon, Ariadne Sawyer, Manja Basi, Bong Ja Ahn, Timothy Shay, Janet Kvammen, Fauzia Rafique and Alan Hill
Readings by Award Recipients
Evelyn Lau, Joanne Arnott, Brajinder Dhillon, Ariadne Sawyer, Manga Basi, Bong Ja Ahn, Timothy Shay, Janet Kvammen, Fauzia Rafique and Alan Hill
Lucia Gorea and Reese McBeth

Tagore Dance by Arno Komalika
Award Presentations
Snacks and Socialize

For more information
Ashok Bhargava 604-327-6040
Lucia Gorea 604-441-0169
Alan Hill 604-276-4391

Surrey Muse – Fri feb 24

Friday Feb 24, 2012
5:30 – 8:30 PM
Room 418 – City Centre branch
Surrey Public Library
Phone: (604) 598-7420
(Surrey Central skytrain)

Guest Author Ben Nuttall Smith
Featured Poet Candice James, Poet Laureate New Westminster
Featured Filmmaker Tabatha Visutskie
Book Signing Ibrahim Honjo
Open Mic opens with Jason Sunder
Host Mariam Zohra-Durrani

Book Table

Free event
Donations welcome

Download Poster in PDF Colour

Download Poster in PDF Black&White

More about Surrey Muse Gatherings

Jan-June 2012 Program


‘Thanks for the 10 Years’‏ by Bonnie Nish

Who would have thought that 10 years ago when Sita Carboni approached me, after the last session for the season of the West End Writers, about starting a writing group around my kitchen table (Kits Writers), that we would still be hanging around doing the same old thing now. Seriously it has been an honour to work with her all these years. To build Pandora’s into something that goes far beyond us and to have maintained a wonderful friendship through all the ups and downs. This is just as much about friendship as it is about words.

Our words feed us. We all know that. But so do these dear relationships some of which come and go with time. I have had the honour of working with and becoming friends with so many people through Pandora’s over the years. I feel that for me in some ways it has been a selfish endeavor to keep it all going, just to be in touch with all these amazing people. I have so many incredible memories from this journey and I would like to share a few with you.

Sita and I working side by side at her apartment when she and Mike lived in the Westend. I would come over after working all day and she would make pasta. We would talk and share and there she was on-line building the website or finding us a new board member. Always looking out for our needs. I will never forget one of the first festivals sitting at her dining room table folding hundreds of programs in three because we didn’t yet know we could pay someone a dollar to do this. Suddenly bursting into tears realizing how long it was taking and how painful a job it was. Then Sita appeared with pasta to soothe the soul, as always, keeping us going.

Twisted Poets began even before Pandora’s. Anand Thakral, another west end writer poet, approached me about starting an open mic with him. I had the experience having run one while I lived in California. He had a friend Elizabeth, who owned the ElCocal on Commercial, who was looking for someone to start an event. Our first night both Anad and I had our families there, mine as audience, his helping in the kitchen and serving. We never looked back. This night was full of life. Elizabeth was partly responsible for that. You never knew what you would get at the El Cocal. Her wonderful homemade cooking was a guarantee. Mary Duffy and I always split Elizabeth’s scrumptious burritos. But there was another side to Elizabeth as well. With her fiery temper she could be in the back having an argument with her boyfriend that you would have to settle before knives went flying. At the same time there could be people singing on stage or yelling or sharing wonderful works. It was magical. Then John Frem came into the picture. He wanted our time, as he was running Bolts of Fiction, a reading series that ran the Monday nights we weren’t there. He was getting pressure from publishers to have an extra night especially near christmas. We agreed to share the stage just at Christmas. We would be off by nine and he could start. This worked so well, that it became our format from then on until John stopped running his reading series.

Eventually we wanted to expand what we were doing with Pandora’s. Sita saw a need to take Kits Writers (our weekly writing group) to the public and so Word Whips began. John had been talking about starting a Story Slam and so we decided to start them together. Just like Twisted Poets and Bolts of Fiction back to back. And so the two events were born.

Eventually Bolts of Fiction stopped, Elizabeth closed her doors and we moved Twisted Poets around for a bit: The Bump and Grind, the Cambie Street bakery and finally the Prophouse which we now call home (and there have never been any fights with knives in the kitchen that we have seen). Word Whips and Story Slam grew and needed their own time and space and so we moved in different directions. Word Whips moved around until we found our home at Britannia Library.

Many friends came across the stage of Twisted Poets. Christy Hill, Leanne Paget, Neil Atkins, Daniela Elza, Trina Ferguson, April, Tenaka, Warren Dean Fulton, Timothy Shay. The list goes on and on.

I can only say thank you for making it what it was and what it still is. Now there are Word Whips run on the North Shore by Fran Bourasa, and in White Rock by Taslim Jaffer. Mary Duffy and Sita run Book Talks a monthly book club free to the public at Britannia Library.

We have brought groups of poets in to read at all sorts of places over the years. Van Dusen Gardens, The Roundhouse, Bowen Island, Word on the Street, The Culture Crawl and lots of other places some more obscure than others.

There have been parties, picnics (the poets picnic) beach parties (Sita’s idea), boat days, readings everywhere one could think of (ok not elevators but Timothy Shay has that one covered).

Over the years we have collaborated with so many wonderful people such as James Mullins and Chris Rooney for Under the Elephant a reading series we ran for years at Tigers on Granville (there actually was a painting of an elephant on the wall which we read under. They still exist go check it out). We ran the open mic portion once a month and James then had features once a month. Again so many friends were made here. James McCann, David Campbell, Steve Duncan the list could go on for hours.

As does the list of events:
– Zap Kids a word whips for Kids we ran with John Frem in a coffee shop on Cambie.
– All the wonderful nights we have run out of the Zack and Gertrude Stein gallery at the JCC with the gallery, the jewish library and the jewish book festival. Thanks Reisa and Nicole. They are so much fun and bring word whips to another level.
– Poets and Painters who brought together so many artists with writers in a huge show in Delta.
– Books for Zimbabwe with Connie Linder of Insight Creative Communications and Doug Anty of Rotary international. With a team of volunteers we packed up 35,000 books in one afternoon from the VPL. This then lead into the Loonie back pack drive where we put backpacks into classrooms and asked kids to bring in loonies to send to Africa.

And speaking of kids, I could never forget Writers in the Making the weekly workshop I have been running at Eric Hamber along side Joan Muir for the last 4 years. These kids inspire me.

And of course the number of kids we have given scholarships to for the Vancouver Public Library Book Camp year after year.

For me there is one thing that we do that stands out the most. Going into the Drug and Rehab centers has been the thing that has been the most rewarding. Watching as people from all walks of life and backgrounds come together to create and share some of the pain, laughter and love of their incredible journey has been an honour. A few years ago I was walking up the drive. It was Christmas time and I was off in my head making lists of one kind or another. Suddenly I thought I heard my name. When I looked around there was one of the girls from our workshops. She was so excited. She came up and told me she was still writing ever since our workshop and that she had stayed clean because of it. Her friends had been encouraging her to keep going. It was so exciting.

And years of workshops in libraries, schools, community centres. For years Sita and I went into Covenant house and did a bi-weekly workshop with the kids there. Every other week for a time we were at The Gathering Place facilitating workshops there. Workshops for the public with Warren Dean Fulton or Shannon Rayne at the Helm.

There are of course our contests with at times entries from as far away as Egypt and Italy.

And then there is the festival now going into its 9th year. Nine years ago I had an idea I would like to start a festival to bring together the community. I wanted to showcase all the on-going events around town and their hosts who worked so tirelessly and often never got recognition. We approached the city that first year and they turned us down. I told them we would do it with or without them and we did. With a modest budget we opened the first Summer Dreams Reading Festival as it was then called, on the Georgia Street side of the art gallery. With one stage we were a go for the entire day. The following year with the city financially behind us we moved to Robson Square just down the stairs from the art gallery. The last two summers we were there were the hottest days of the summer. With all concrete and no shade our audience came and went with the sun. We decided to move to Stanley Park where we could grow to two stages, and be cool by the water. Of course that first year it rained all day. I have never been so wet as I was during tear down. From here we grew to three stages and two days. We now have the gala night at the CBC, workshops, panel discussions, readings and music all day long. We are funded by the City, The BC Arts Council and The Writers Union of Canada as well as The Burnaby Writers Association, The Federation of BC Writers, The Canadian Authors Association and a number of private individuals and organizations that continue to fund us year after year.

But at this time all I want to say in closing is a big thank you. I just want to thank our board – those past and present. You keep us going and we appreciate all that you do. Mike Peacock our president from the start. Along with our present board, Mary Duffy, David McGuire, Ruth Kozak, Rob Taylor, Diana Huang, Gwen Murray. And those in the past Edmond Chow, Rhonda Milne, Tara Harris, Don Simpson, Joanne Kim and Carson Tipper.

And my children for putting up with tents, meetings, late dinners, the list goes on and on. Ali, Seb and Reb you wonderful.

So from me to you let us celebrate and toast. Because really this is about all of us. This great community we all come together to create in our own ways. And I thank you for the privilege of working side by side with you. All of you. From the beginning to now it has been a blast. You are all a part of my family now and that is what this is all about. I salute you. Bonnie

Bonnie Nish, Executive Director of Pandora’s Collective, delivered this talk at a fundraiser in Vancouver earlier this month.

View slide show ‘Who We Are’ by Sita Carboni

If you have pictures of the evening or Pandora’s events please send them to Sita Carboni at:

Salon Sundays @ Kogawa House‏

Salon Sundays are a treat, largely because of a willing audience. Each week a different dynamic; each time a little bit of magic.

There are Sundays left. I look forward to seeing you.

December 4th — Shirley Bear
2pm – 4pm
Shirley Bear returns to Vancouver to read from her 2006 collection Virgin Bones – Belayak Kcikug’nas’ikn’ug at Kogawa House. A visual artist, writer, and activist she was honored last week at Rideau Hall with the Order of Canada.

December 11th – Open House
1pm – 5pm
Please come to visit Kogawa House for a celebration of the people who created it and keep it running. Can I ask you to bring along something hand-made and simple like a jar of jam, a sheaf of paper, a holiday ornament? We’ll have a craft table with proceeds going to the House.

Place: 1450 W. 64thAve east of Granville
To reserve a seat email

Other Kogawa House Events
Special Screening of Winds of Heaven
Emily Carr was born 140 years ago in Victoria this December 13th. I will host a screening of Michael Ostroff’s documentary film that was featured at the Vancouver International Film Festival last year. It was based on my book, The Laughing One. And similarly explores Carr’s legacy and First Nations’ history. John Walker was cinematographer, Peter Raymont, producer with Michael Ostroff.
Wednesday, December 7th , 7:00pm
VPL Central Library, Peter Kaye Room, Lower Level.

From Susan Crean

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