George Ryga was an influential Canadian playwright, novelist and poet who spent much of his life in Summerland. The literary and musical legacy he left behind is astounding.
While a lot of artists of his calibre might uproot themselves and move to a big city, Ryga stayed, raised his family and worked from the small community of Summerland, proving a point that many of us have come to discover during the pandemic, that you can work from home successfully.
His house was known to be a haven for visitors who liked to engage in lively discussions and play music. Most of Ryga’s plays were written at the old wooden table in the kitchen, which must have been a beehive of people coming and going. The open invitation to an artists home is somewhat similar to the public library in the sense that everyone is welcome. Lifelong learning happens here and we do enjoy a lively discussion about books and music.
It’s a natural fit for the library to be partnered with the Ryga Festival again this year which runs from Aug. 14 to 22, and the lineup is amazing. Here are just a few of the events happening this summer:
• Memoir in multiple mediums — online workshop, Saturday, Aug. 14, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Do you want to write an article, memoir or movie? Mark Leiren-Young has the tools to help you.
• How we tell stories — online community conversation, Saturday, Aug. 14, 3 to 5 p.m. Enjoy a rich exploration in this conversation about how we “send” and “receive” stories and why the way we share is so connected to why we share.
• Travis Lupick — online author reading, Sunday, Aug. 15, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Winner of the George Ryga Book Award for Social Awareness in Literature. Join us for a compelling conversation as Lupick shares selections from Fighting for Space, highlighting the revolutionary approach to drug addiction that is saving lives.
• Extended Play — online words and music, Monday, Aug. 16, 7 to 9 p.m. Features readings from three inspiring Okanagan authors Corinna Chong, Brian Thomas Isaac and Joanna Chiu, interspersed with music selections from Kelowna folk duo Josh + Bex.
• Can we do better? Erasure and Myths of Ukrainian-Indigenous relations in Canada — online presentation Wednesday, Aug. 18, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. We seek to answer the question, can we do better when telling the stories of these lands?
• Moira Dann — online author reading, Sunday, Aug. 22, 12 to 2 p.m. Moira’s book Craigdarroch Castle in 21 objects, takes readers into the family history, local lore and oddities of one of Victoria’s most famous landmarks. Readers are invited to join her imaginary journey into the castle’s occupants through the years.
• Activism and the Arts — online community conversation Sunday, Aug. 22, 3 to 5 p.m. George Ryga was an advocate and activist for social justice. Join these diverse, multi-disciplinary guest artists as they explore the relationship between art and activism.
Get your tickets early to these online and in-person events at rygafest.ca or drop by the library for more information.
Caroline McKay is the Community Librarian at the Summerland branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.