PORT HARDY—The Port Hardy branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library is hosting a series of readings and discussions on remarkable women in literature.
The readings, which are run once or twice a month by event facilitator Jan Armbrust, look at the different strengths of women by focusing on a particular book by a female writer.
Last week’s event, called “Strength in Silence,” looked at Sara Maitland’s A Book of Silence. Maitland, a feminist writer, was already a mother and successful novelist when silence called to her. She completely disconnected from all outside contact, even turning off her clock, to take a “deep plunge” into silence.
Armbrust began the reading last Thursday by giving a fifteen-minute overview of Maitland and her story. She then drew attendants of the workshop into an open discussion by asking, “What is your experience with silence?”
After arranging their chairs in a circular formation, members of the group took turns sharing their own personal stories with silence and isolation. They talked in equal parts about the power and pleasure of silence, an angry kind of silence versus a joyful kind.
“These readings are really to explore what the strengths of women are, and share their experiences about those strengths,” said Armbrust after the discussion.
Armbrust encourages both women and men to attend the workshops, to voice their own thoughts and experiences. It is not necessary to have read the novel ahead of the discussion.
“These first two discussions have been good,” said Armbrust. “No one is frightened to speak up, even if we get diametrically opposing viewpoints. I think it really feels like a protected environment.”
The next event, which will take place next Thursday, Oct. 30, is called “Strength in Partnership,” featuring Madeleine L’Engle’s novel Two-Part Invention.
The series will continue until mid-December.