Convergence 2016 Writers Weekend

Looking for a way to use your writing talents to inspire and guide a progressive 21st century? Join renowned Canadian authors J. Edward Chamberlin and Sharon Butala for Convergence 2016: The Spirit in the Landscape, a special weekend writers’ retreat held in Silverton, BC, May 13-14 at the Silverton Memorial Hall on Highway 6.

J. Edward Chamberlin is one of our featured guests at Convergence 2016.

J. Edward Chamberlin is one of our featured guests at Convergence 2016.

Subtitled “If this is your land, where are your stories?” from Chamberlin’s book of the same name, this year’s Convergence explores the growing worldwide movement to make sacred again our relationship with Nature, to return us to a sense that all beings are sacred and we are merely one strand in that web.

All stories, songs and poems teach values. This is an understanding inherent in many First Nations mythologies. Now at the other end of the industrial and technological revolutions, it’s time to allow ourselves to be re-absorbed into that sense of the sacred. And often it’s our storytellers, poets and indigenous elders who lead the way in crafting the narratives that point us in the direction of such a sacred relationship.

As Chamberlin writes in his book, “Other people’s stories are as varied as the landscapes and languages of the world; and the storytelling traditions to which they belong tell the different truths of religion and science, of history and the arts. They tell people where they came from, and why they are here; how to live, and sometimes how to die. They come in many different forms, from creation stories to constitutions, from southern epics and northern sagas to Native American tales and African praise songs, and from nursery rhymes and national anthems to myths and mathematics. And they are all ceremonies of belief as much as they are chronicles of events, even the stories that claim to be absolutely true.” (J. Edward Chamberlin, If This is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?, Vintage Canada 2003-2004, pp. 1, 2.)

Sharon Butala will speak on the theme of 'The Spirit in the Landscape.'

Sharon Butala will speak on the theme of ‘The Spirit in the Landscape.’

Our other guest at Convergence 2016 is renowned author Sharon Butala, whose memoir The Perfection of the Morning has become a Canadian classic. Written on the cusp of transitioning from a promising university career to life on a Saskatchewan ranch with her husband, it beautifully develops the ‘spirit in the landscape’ featured in this year’s Convergence theme: “Surrounded as I was by miles of prairie still in the state it had been in since the glaciers had melted back ten thousand years before, with mirages hovering in the distance, the nights filled with the distant wail of coyotes, and with the canopy of stars, and the wind a constant, whispering companion, I began to have the first intimations that there was in Nature, much more than met the eye, something that existed in back of it. I did not know what that something was. I didn’t even expect ever to know, but nevertheless I strained every day to catch a glimpse of it. I thought if I could just see it, maybe I would understand it and that understanding would show me how to live.” (Sharon Butala, The Perfection of the Morning, Harper Perennial, 1994/2004, pp. 23, 24)

Convergence was founded in 2012 by author Sean Arthur Joyce with a mandate to help writers concerned with social and environmental justice to polish their skills and engage in stimulating discussion with world-class authors and thinkers. Chamberlin writes that, “It is only through the pressure of our imagination that we can resist the pressure of reality,” and, arguably, to stoke the fires of transformation at this critical juncture in human history. “In this sense, all stories are resistance stories and all songs are songs of resistance, pushing back against the tyrannies of the everyday as well as the terrors of the unknown.”

Convergence since its inception has been hosted by Heart’s Rest Retreats in New Denver, British Columbia, operated by United Church ministers George Meier and Therese DesCamp, advocates for progressive, inclusive spirituality. Included on the Convergence board as advisor is renowned Canadian poet Tom Wayman.

Beautiful Slocan Lake, just a block from Silverton Memorial Hall, will provide plenty of inspiration. Photo Sean Arthur Joyce

Beautiful Slocan Lake, just a block from Silverton Memorial Hall, will provide plenty of inspiration. Photo Sean Arthur Joyce

Located 100 km. north of popular small arts town Nelson, BC, Silverton and New Denver are inspiring communities in the gorgeous Valhalla mountain range on the shores of pristine Slocan Lake—a truly inspiring setting. Local accommodations are affordable and the strong organic farming ethic in the Slocan Valley means you’ll eat healthy while here. Meals will be catered on Saturday so those registering are asked to let us know your meal preferences. Evening meals can be a problem during the off-season for tourism here so have your meal options planned for Friday evening and Sunday. (See webpage registration form at

SCHEDULE: Friday, May 13, 7 p.m.

Presentation by Sharon Butala and J. Edward Chamberlin followed by audience Q&A. Open to the public.

Saturday, May 14: Writing workshops

Open to registrants only; registrants can take one or both workshops.

  • 9:30 am – 12:30 pm: Sharon Butala
  • 2:00 – 5:00 pm: J. Edward Chamberlin
  • 7:00 pm: Spirit in the Landscape panel discussion with Sharon Butala, J. Edward Chamberlin, Therese DesCamp, and Sean Arthur Joyce.

Full registration (online or at the door) covers Friday night and Saturday night events, plus Saturday writing workshops: $35.

Saturday only admission (writing workshops and/or evening panel discussion): $35.

Friday evening only admission: $5. 

  • To register in advance contact Sean Arthur Joyce at and let us know your preferences for writing workshops and meals.

NOTE: While we are happy to provide links to area accommodations, Convergence is not providing accommodations for registrants.

About seanarthurjoyce

I am a poet, journalist and author with a strong commitment to the environment and social justice. If anything, I have too many interests and too little time in a day to pursue them all. Film, poetry, literature, music, mythology, and history probably top the list. My musical interests lie firmly in rock and blues with a smattering of folk and world music. I consider myself lucky to have lived during the great flowering of modern rock music during its Golden Age in the late 1960s/early '70s. In poetry my major inspirations are Dylan Thomas, Rilke, Neruda and the early 20th century British/American poets: Auden, Eliot, Cummings. My preferred cinema includes the great French auteurs, Kirosawa, Orson Welles, and Film Noir. My preferred social causes are too numerous to mention but include banning GMOs, eliminating poverty (ha-ha), and a sane approach to forest conservation and resource extraction. Wish me—wish us all—luck on that one!
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