Denman Island, a small Gulf Islands community of 1200 people between the coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, hosts the Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival in July every summer. The festival had its beginnings in the 1980s with community gatherings of local writers and poets to present their work. This expanded in 2003 to include professional authors. In 2005, the festival began to be organized around two evening panels consisting of various authors, moderated by a host. In 2007, a new organizing committee under the umbrella organization of Arts Denman brought the festival to its present format, which is a four-day event comprised of workshops, evening panels, solo readings and paired readings. That year a dozen invited authors joined local writers in making presentations of their work. CBC Radio's Sheryl MacKay acted as moderator and broadcasted her weekend show live from the festival. In 2008, a Writer-in-Residence program was added under the direction of well-known Canadian author Jack Hodgins. Also, with the intention of fostering writing in the immediate community, a Young Denman Writers section was added for children from the Denman Island Community School. In 2010 a new feature was a Manuscript Assessment program in which participants could bring their work for a one-on-one, hour-long interview with a professional writer.
The mandate of the Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival is to create a community-based, intimate opportunity for the intermingling of readers and writers. Visiting writers are hosted by Denman Island families and share in locally catered meals with other festival participants. The festival is located in a beautiful natural setting of forests and ocean and has attracted many well-known writers such as Bill Bissett, George Bowering, Brian Brett, Sharon Butala, Ivan E. Coyote, William Deverell, M.A.C. Farrant, Steven Galloway, Terry Glavin, Des Kennedy, Joy Kogawa, Daphne Marlatt, Ruth Ozeki, John Pass, Brian Payton, Bill Richardson, Eden Robinson, Jen Sookfong Lee, Tom Wayman, Carol Windley, and Ronald Wright, among others. The Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival continues its success in connecting writers with their audience in a relaxed and natural setting.