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The 41st edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors starts today! We’re bringing you an expanded lineup of over 200 free virtual events and activities throughout the Festival’s 11-day run. Here are just some of the opening day events you won’t want to miss.

Launching Between the Shorelines: Storytelling Indigenous Presence in Toronto

11am ET

Learn about Toronto’s Indigenous history through a virtual storytelling tour across the contemporary shorelines of the city. In partnership with First Story Toronto and the University of Toronto, join TIFA for a look at the city of Toronto through the lens of Indigenous storytelling.

Register Now

 

Skin Hunger: Francesca Ekwuyasi

12pm ET

Join Francesca Ekwuyasi as she reads an original piece created for TIFA’s Skin Hunger series. The series was named after the Dutch concept of “skin hunger” capturing the longing of many people around the world to connect with each other once again in person. The series will feature numerous international authors sharing a new original piece of writing reflecting the times we are living in right now.

Register Now

 

An Evening with Margaret Atwood

7pm ET

Get up close and personal with literary great Margret Atwood from the comfort of your own home. Join The Handmaid’s Tale author as she spends an evening with TIFA Director Roland Gulliver talking about the inspirations of her highly acclaimed work. Audience members will also be given a special treat when she introduces her new poetry collection, Dearly.

Register Now

 

Critical Conversations: China Relations

7:30pm ET

As China seemingly accelerates its path to becoming the world’s largest economy, and the Canadian government continues to navigate several diplomatic disputes, join TIFA for an exploration of the complexities of this rising superpower. Featuring panelists Nathan Law, Jonathan Manthorpe and Margaret McCuaig-Johnston as part of TIFA’s Critical Conversations series.

Register Now

 

Poetry on the Front Lines

Screening daily at Union Station Oct. 22–Nov. 1

TIFA has partnered with A.F. Moritz, Toronto’s sixth Poet Laureate, and the Toronto Writers Collective to bring a video installation highlighting TWC’s newest anthologies: Front Lines: Bent, Not Broken and Front Lines: Until the Words Run Pure. The video installation will be showcased at Toronto’s Union Station in the West Wing during the entirety of the Festival.

Learn more

The 41st edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors kicks off in just a few days. With over 200 free virtual events and activities to experience over the Festival’s 11-day run, we’ve created this handy guide to help you navigate and make the most of #FestofAuthors20. Here are our insider recommendations:

1) Register in Advance

Get ready to attend the 41st Festival edition from the comfort of your own home. Start by signing up on our website to create your FREE account. If you already have a Harbourfront Centre account, use that to log in.

2) Create your Digital Itinerary

Find your events and activities in the Festival Calendar or by browsing the full Event Listing or Participant Listing. When you see an event you’d like to watch, add it to your personal Itinerary by clicking the yellow button to register. Your registered events will appear on your personal Itinerary page. Most events will be available to view for up to 72 hours after they launch, so feel free to double up on overlapping events.

3) Keep an Eye on your Email

All Festival event reminders and notices will be communicated to you through email, so please be sure to add us to your safe senders list (enews@festivalofauthors.ca). Otherwise, these alerts might go to your spam folder.

We will also be emailing you an event reminder notice one day prior to each registered event. Although most events will be streamed directly on the TIFA website, some select events will require a special link to view them on an external platform. If an event requires a special link, we will indicate this on the event detail page, and we will email you the link one day prior to the event.

4) Tune in On Time – Or not!

We will make our best efforts to start all events on time, so if you wish to experience an event at its launch time, please give yourself enough time to log in to the website and click your way to the event video stream (from your Itinerary page) before the event’s scheduled start time, so you don’t miss a thing. If you can’t make an event when it launches, have no fear, most events will also be available for viewing for up to 72 hours after they launch, so they can be enjoyed at your convenience. Exceptions to this rule will be indicated on the event details page.

5) Join us Daily

In addition to daily author talks and interviews, this year, we’re also proud to present a series of special Performances happening each day of the Festival. Each evening will offer a dose of creative storytelling expressed through theatre, music, film or dance. A series of Critical Conversations, covering the hot topic social and political events of the day.

6) Listen to a Podcast

Take a break from your screen during the Festival and plug in to a new original podcast. TIFA has commissioned several new limited edition podcast series this year, including Any Night of the Week: A Walking History of Toronto Music, produced by indie musician and writer Jonny Dovercourt; and Write in the Neighbourhood: Audio Walking Tour, featuring Toronto authors discussing the local neighbourhoods that inspired their writing. After they launch, podcasts will stay live on the website for the duration of the Festival.

7) Invite the Entire Family

The new TIFA KIDS! Weekend will take place October 31 – November 1, with special events and activities catered towards young audiences and the children’s publishing community. Don’t miss these family-friendly events, which include readings by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards winners, a panel discussion between the nominees of the 2020 Governor General Literary Awards for Young People’s Literature, and much more.

8) Experience a New Language

Several Festival events this year will take place in languages other than English. Tune in to experience storytelling in Bengali, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

9) Follow Us on Social Media

Interact with us on social media for the full Festival experience!

Follow @FestofAuthors on:
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

Don’t forget to use #FestofAuthors20 on social media to join the conversation.

10) Buy a Book

No Festival experience is complete without the addition of a new book (or more!) to your bookshelf. TIFA’s official Bookseller, the UofT Bookstore, is ready to take your online orders, and is offering free shipping on domestic orders of over C$100. All purchases will include a free TIFA bookmark (while supplies last). There is also a limited selection of signed copies. Support the writers participating in this year’s Festival with a visit to the virtual book store.

For more details and Festival support, please visit our FAQ page.

We look forward to giving you a warm, virtual welcome to #FestofAuthors20!

There are many ways the 41st edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors will be different this year, but one of the perks of going virtual is that it has made it easier for us to connect you with more authors from around the world. From Australia to Japan, we have a worldly lineup of international talent willing to share their experiences and bring you into their homes. 

Here are nine international authors to check out during #FestofAuthors20:  

Shokoofeh AzarShokoofeh Azar 

Shokoofeh Azar moved from Iran to Australia as a political refugee in 2011. She is the author of essays, articles and children’s books. Originally written in Farsi, Shokoofeh’s book The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is her first novel to be translated into English. The book has been shortlisted for Australia’s Stella Prize for Fiction and the 2020 International Booker Prize. 

Shokoofeh Azar will participate in the following events:

Home Sweet Homelands: Ayad Akhtar & Shokoofeh Azar
Thursday, October 22, 2020  – 9pm (ET) 

Skin Hunger: Shokoofeh Azar
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 – 12pm (ET)


Billingham, Mark - Headshot_Square copyMark Billingham 

British author Mark Billingham’s novels have been translated into 25 languages and have sold over six million copies. Cry Baby, his 20th novel, is part of the Detective Inspector Tom Thorne series and is a prequel to Sleepyhead, a Sunday Times bestseller that was made into a hit TV series on Sky 1. Mark lives in north London with his wife and two children. 

Mark Billingham will participate in the following event: 

First Piece of the Puzzle: Mark Billingham
Friday, October 23, 2020 – 5pm (ET) 

Photo credit: Steve Best


Roy JacobsenRoy Jacobsen 

Roy Jacobsen is a Norwegian novelist and short-story writer. Born in Oslo, he made his publishing debut in 1982 with the short-story collection Fangeliv (Prison Life), which won Tarjei Vesaas’ debutantpris. He is a winner of the prestigious Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature, and his novel The Unseen was shortlisted for the 2017 International Man Booker Prize and the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award. 

Roy Jacobsen will participate in the following event: 

The Landscapes of Us: Catherine Bush & Roy Jacobsen
Sunday, October 25, 2020  3:30pm (ET) 

Photo credit: Agnete Brun


Kawakami, Mieko - Headshot_Square

Mieko Kawakami 

Born in Japan, Mieko Kawakami made her literary debut as a poet in 2006. Her first novella, My Ego, My Teeth, and the World (2007) was awarded the Tsubouchi Shoyo Prize for Young Emerging Writers. The newly expanded Breasts and Eggs, originally published as a novella, is her first novel to be published in English. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Tsubouchi Shoyo Prize for Young Emerging Writers, the Granta Best of Young Japanese Novelist and the prestigious Akutagawa Prize. 

Mieko Kawakami will participate in the following events: 

Overcoming Expectations: Mieko Kawakami on Breasts and Eggs
Saturday, October 24, 2020 – 7pm (ET) 

Mieko Kawakami has also written a new work, commissioned by TIFA for the Festival. A reading of the work will be presented as follows:   

Skin Hunger: Mieko Kawakami
Thursday, October 29, 2020 – 12pm (ET)

This author’s appearance is supported by The Japan Foundation, Toronto. 

Photo credit: YUTO KUDO/ Madame Figaro Japon


Daniel KehlmannDaniel Kehlmann 

German author Daniel Kehlmann’s works have won many awards, including the Candide Prize, the Hölderlin Prize, the Kleist Prize, the Welt Literature Prize and the Thomas Mann Prize. This year at the Festival, Daniel will present Tyll, a retelling of the German myth of Tyll Ulenspiegel. The novel, a story of the 17th-century vagabond performer and trickster, was shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize.   

Daniel Kehlmann will participate in the following event: 

The Devil Plays the Best Tunes: Daniel Kehlmann’s Tyll
Sunday, October 25, 2020 – 11am (ET) 

Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan


Maalouf, Amin - HeadshotAmin Maalouf 

Amin Maalouf is a Lebanese-French author. Since publishing his first book in 1976, he has won many awards for his work, including the Prix Goncourt, the most prestigious literary award in France, for The Rock of Tanios. His work has been translated into 50 languages, and his newest nonfiction book, Adrift: How Our World Lost Its Way, tackles how civilizations have drifted apart throughout the 20th century. 

Amin Maalouf will participate in the following event: 

Our World Adrift: Amin Maalouf
Saturday, October 31, 2020 – 11am (ET)

Photo credit: JF PAGA-Grasset


Melchor, Fernanda - HeadshotFernanda Melchor 

Fernanda Melchor, born in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1982, is widely recognized as one of the most exciting new voices of Mexican literature. Her book Hurricane Season takes readers on an intense journey as a witch is found dead in a small village and speculation runs wild about her life and death. It has been shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize and longlisted for the National Book Award, and was the winner of the German literary award, the Internationaler Literaturpreis. 

Fernanda Melchor will participate in the following event: 

Tradition on Trial: Farzana Doctor & Fernanda Melchor
Thursday, October 22, 2020 – 6pm (ET)


Marta Orriols Orriols, Marta - Headshot

Marta Orriols is a Catalan writer based in Barcelona. Her novel Learning to Talk to Plants is the story of a young neonatologist whose partner dies in an accident and her attempt to rebuild her life. It has been translated into 11 languages and won the Òmnium Award for the best Catalan Novel in 2018. 

Marta Orriols will participate in the following event:  

Unpacking Grief: Marta Orriols & John Elizabeth Stintzi
Friday, October 23, 2020 – 6pm (ET) 

This author’s appearance is supported by Institut Ramon Llull. 


Gonçalo M. TavaresGonçalo M. Tavares - Headshot_Square

Gonçalo M. Tavares is considered one of the Portuguese world’s most critically acclaimed writers, and has won multiple national and international literary prizes. His books have been published in more than 50 countries, and his recent work, Plague Diary, provides a personal view of the COVID-19 pandemic through daily written entries. 

Gonçalo M. Tavares will participate in the following event, presented in Portuguese with English subtitles: 

Gonçalo M. Tavares: Plague Diary
Saturday, October 31, 2020 – 1:30pm (ET)

Photo credit: Alfredo Cunha

  

You can find more international guests in our full 2020 participant listingDon’t miss these additional special events being presented in the authors’ own language:  

 
Life Through Language: CanLit to Bengali (Presented in Bengali)
Thursday, October 22, 2020 – 6pm (ET)

 
Life Through Language: Bengali writers in Canada (Presented in Bengali)
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 – 6pm (ET)

 
Juan Pablo Villalobos in Conversation (Presented in Spanish)
Wednesday, October 28, 2020 – 2pm (ET)
 

Life Through Language: Marie-Andrée Gill & Chloé Savoie-Bernard (Presented in French)
Wednesday, October 28, 2020 – 5pm (ET)

Skin Hunger: Donatella Di Pietrantonio (Presented in Italian)
Friday, October 30, 2020 12pm (ET)

 

Running October 22 – November 1, 2020, #FestofAuthors20 will be the largest Toronto International Festival of Authors yet. While we have many well-known authors joining us throughout the Festival, we also have an incredible lineup of emerging authors telling stories through fiction, poetry and memoirs. 

Here are nine emerging authors to watch:  

Samantha M Bailey

Samantha M. Bailey

Toronto-based novelist, journalist and freelance editor Samantha M. Bailey became a national bestselling author with her debut novel, Woman on the Edge. Released in March 2020, the novel has reached #1 on the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail bestseller lists and has left readers longing for more.

Samantha M. Bailey will participate in the following event:

Maternal Mysteries: Samantha M. Bailey & Marjorie Celona
Saturday, October 31, 2020 – 2pm (ET)

Photo credit: Dahlia Katz Photography


Eva Crocker

Eva Crocker 

Eva Crocker is a freelance writer, poet and editor based in Quebec. In 2017, her debut short story collection, Barrelling Forward, won the Alistair MacLeod Award for Short Fiction and CAA Emerging Writer Award and was a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ writers. Her debut novel, All I Ask, was published in June and many consider it a defining novel of a generation.

Eva Crocker will participate in the following event:

Finding our Ways: Eva Crocker & Marlowe Granados
Sunday, October 25, 2020 – 9pm (ET)


Francesca Ekwuyasi

Francesca Ekwuyasi

Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer and multidisciplinary artist from Lagos, Nigeria. Her work explores themes of faith, family, queerness, consumption, loneliness and belonging. Her debut novel, Butter Honey Pig Bread, deals with food, family and forgiveness as it tells the interconnected stories of three Nigerian women: Kambirinachi and her twin daughters, Kehinde and Taiye. It was longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Francesca Ekwuyasi will participate in the following events:

Skin Hunger: Francesca Ekwuyasi
Thursday, October 22, 2020 – 12pm (ET)

Duty and Consequence: Francesca Ekwuyasi & Annabel Lyon
Sunday, November 1, 2020 9pm (ET)

Photo credit: Mo Phung


Louise Hare

Louise Hare

In Louise Hare’s debut novel, This Lovely City, she tells the heartbreaking but hopeful story of Lawrie Matthews, a Jamaican immigrant living in postwar London. Exploring race, community and love, the novel takes readers on a journey through the anger and fear of searching for a place to belong. Hare is a London-based writer and editor with an M.A. in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London.

Louise Hare will participate in the following event: 

Love & Sacrifice in Storytelling: Janie Chang & Louise Hare
Friday, October 26, 2020 – 5pm (ET)


Ethan LouEthan Lou

In January, Ethan Lou travelled to Beijing to visit his dying grandfather and while there, he unexpectedly witnessed the early stages of COVID-19 and the shockwaves it made around the world. As he tried getting home, Lou ended up in other hot zones in Asia and Europe, giving him a unique perspective on the crisis and providing the inspiration for his debut novel, Field Notes from a Pandemic: A Journey Through a World Suspended.

Ethan Lou will participate in the following event:

Critical Conversations: The Pandemic Paradox
Friday, October 25, 2020 – 7:30pm (ET)

Photo credit: Ke Yan


Naga, Noor - Headshot_SquareNoor Naga

Noor Naga, an Alexandrian writer who was born in Philadelphia, raised in Dubai, studied in Toronto and now lives in Cairo, was the winner of the 2017 Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Her verse-novel Washes, Prays (McClelland & Stewart) is about a young woman’s relationship with a married man and her ensuring crisis of faith. Her debut novel American Girl and Boy from Shobrakheit is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in Fall 2021.

Noor Naga will participate in the following event:

Modern Love, Betrayal and Ourselves: Shani Mootoo & Noor Naga
Saturday, October 31, 2020 4pm (ET)


Reva, Maria - Headshot_Square copyMaria Reva

Maria Reva’s enthralling debut, Good Citizens Need Not Fear, is a collection of short stories that gives readers a look into the interconnected lives of those living in a single crumbling apartment building in Soviet-era Ukraine. Reva was born in Ukraine and grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia. She currently lives in Austin, Texas, and works as an opera librettist.

Maria Reva will participate in the following event:

Entanglements: Sidura Ludwig & Maria Reva
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 – 7:30pm (ET)


Stuart, Douglas - Headshot_Square copyDouglas Stuart

Shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize and longlisted for the National Book Award, Douglas Stuart’s debut novel, Shuggie Bain, is a heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality and love. It’s a story that Stuart has been working on for over 10 years to provide readers with an intimate look at a young boy in a dysfunctional family as the bad gets increasingly worse. Douglas Stuart was born and raised in Glasgow and now resides in New York City.

Douglas Stuart will participate in the following event:

Coming of Age: Alex Pugsley & Douglas Stuart
Saturday, October 31, 2020 – 12pm (ET)

Photo credit: Martyn Pickersgill


Thistle, Jesse - Headshot_SquareJesse Thistle

Jesse Thistle is Métis-Cree, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Jesse chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction in his memoir, From the Ashes. Detailing his tumultuous experience with the foster-care system, abuse and racism, the book became an instant bestseller and was shortlisted for 2020 Canada Reads. He is a finalist for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, won a Governor General’s Academic Medal in 2016 and is a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholar and a Vanier Scholar.

Jesse Thistle will participate in the following event:

Family, Identity and Future: David A. Robertson & Jesse Thistle
Friday, October 30, 2020 – 8pm (ET)

 

You can see more emerging authors joining us this year by browsing the full 2020 participant listing.

A Warm Welcome to the 41st edition of TIFA

I am delighted to welcome you to the 41st Edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors, my first as Director. Creating a literary festival is always special, always different, with each journey of creation a response to the world. This year has been a year like no other, challenging us all. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt, leading to immense trauma and loss, and a new way of life that we are cautiously working our way through. The wave of protests in response to George Floyd’s death brought racism and discrimination into stark focus, demanding that the time for change is now, that we all must work better and harder to create real social and cultural change.

The literary and publishing communities have had to adapt and respond as our traditional spaces for live events and activities have been lost, and we have discovered new digital spaces. And we as readers have turned to books even more to give us solace and strength, inspiration and understanding, entertainment, and escapism. Authors are who we turn to to find meaning, about where we are and where we go next; they enable us to feel rooted in our sense of place while showing us the rest of the world.

The power of reading and the need for connection and community has inspired the creation of this year’s Festival. We have brought together an incredible 11 days of Canadian and international authors for this year’s programme. You will find many of your favourites, and you will discover exciting new voices from Toronto, Canada and around the world – all of which will be presented to you through our Festival website.

You can watch authors in conversation, discussing the issues of the day, presenting performances, sharing their favourite books or leading a writing masterclass. Like any literary event, you will be able to ask questions and buy a book. Plus we have created a special programme of digital content and commissions with podcasts, walking tours, maps and animations for you to experience and enjoy.

We are excited to be able to offer our digital programme for free so you can experience the wealth of stories in the Festival safely! If you are able, we hope you can support and donate to the Festival to help us to keep bringing the best stories to our audiences, live and online.

My thanks go to my TIFA team who have responded brilliantly to create and deliver this year’s Festival, to the fantastic support of the Festival Board and to Harbourfront Centre colleagues; to the publishers and partners who have helped inspire our programme; and to all our friends and supporters who have made me feel very welcome and believed in what we are doing. And finally, to the authors and to you dear readers, long may we continue to share in the celebration of books and stories as we bring our new world into focus.

Roland Gulliver
Director

Building Unity book cover

“Build an organization that is growth-minded, values-based and innovative using the six steps to ‘responsible impact’”, says Michael ‘Piecez’ Prosserman author of Building Unity: Leading a Non-Profit from Spark to Succession. An instructor at the University of Toronto, and having travelled the world winning over twenty-six B-Boy battles, Prosserman,  a professional B-Boy (breakdancer) at 16 soon found new opportunities grow from his passion for Hip Hop. His team grew UNITY: an international mental health charity focused on helping over a quarter of a million young people around the world. (more…)

We had a virtual sit down with Gap Riot Press Co-founder Kate Siklosi to discuss the local small press scene. She introduced us to new authors, explains the significance of Canadian writers and shares her future hopes for the industry.

As the co-founding editor of Gap Riot Press, what sparked your interest in entering the world of small press publishing? Why is it important and what did you hope to achieve when you set out on this endeavour?

Gap Riot started, as the best things always do, in conversation. In the early months of 2017, Dani Spinosa and I were discussing how too often, writers of formal or experimental poetry in Canada (including ourselves) had to go through a white man to publish a chapbook. So, we wanted to change that up a little and provide a space for writers to publish experimental, formal, political, feminist, and/or genre-blurring poetry that wasn’t governed by a dude. We sought out to break down cliques and barriers in the poetic community, and open more spaces for people to practice the poetry we love, with the hopes of bringing a community together in collective action in this work.

So, after months and months of batting the idea of starting a press around, we got one massive push from the late, great, incomparable, and dearly missed poet extraordinaire Priscila Uppal, who wanted a run of chapbooks made for the poems in her SummerWorks play, What Linda Said. We did those and then three more chapbooks by the most incredible first season we could have asked for: Adeena Karasick, Margaret Christakos, and Canisia Lubrin. And with the support of all these beautiful and fierce wimmin, we grew and grew into the unstoppable Gap Riot Press.

We’re always learning, and always challenging ourselves and others. Gap Riot was born out of the need for shouty, unapologetic, collective amplification. And, as white wimmin, we’re trying to do that in a way that decenters ourselves; for us, this work is about uplifting other voices and giving space to folks to try stuff on and play.

What exciting projects can we expect next from Gap Riot Press?

We just released our fifth season of chapbooks in the early summer featuring the luminous Terese Mason Pierre, Ashley Hynd, Zoey Morris, and Franco Cortese. We have some really awesome titles already lined up for our fall season, which will be out sometime in October or November. And, we’re thinking about the idea of an experimental poetry anthology, which will be fun!

We’re also looking to lean more into the creative, hands-on aspect of creating. But, we generally try to do something different each season, whether it’s a plantable excerpt of poetry, a wax-sealed ribbon, etc. Time doesn’t always allow us to add the most hands-on touch to our work that some small presses like The Blasted Tree and Puddles of Sky Press do, but we’d love to do more of that to make each publication that much more special, and really lean into that hand-to-object care we so love about small press publishing.

What has been the biggest surprise or learning experience you’ve encountered while running Gap Riot Press?

That the learning never stops! This is an ongoing project. We’re lucky in that Dani and I are best friends, and basically the same person, so we work really well together without much structure or headaches. But it’s tough work, especially with both of us working full-time, demanding jobs, and sometimes there’s a struggle to find balance and stay sane. Also, the small things: we learned this past season that our new website shop had a bit of a learning curve to it and so we weren’t charging the right amount of shipping, for example. We’re always learning, in big ways and small.

What is your process for selected authors?

We don’t have a formal selection process per se; our mantra lately is “burn it down, but make it fashion”—we seek to publish work that ignites, dismantles, unsettles, and does it with style. We get a lot of submissions, so we select work that moves us the most, that is necessary, urgent, responsive, and beautiful all the same.

You joined us last year for Small Press, Big Ideas: Roundtable to discuss the strengths and challenges of the small press scene. Since then, have you noticed any major shifts, growth and or new challenges? How would you describe these strengths and challenges in today’s pandemic world?

When it comes to small press, there is always growth! That’s been one of the most amazing things for me to experience while putting together the small press map of Canada for this year’s festival, is seeing how much the community continues to grow year after year with new people, new ideas, new modes of production. It’s awesome and inspiring to see.

In terms of the pandemic, we’ve seen a spectrum of effects across the small presses we’ve been in contact with—some are experiencing a lot of growth and success, others have reported incredible loss. One of the biggest drawbacks has been the absence of small press markets across the country, which a lot of presses rely on for sales and exposure. Fortunately, for us, it’s been mostly smooth sailing. People have been mostly staying home, and wanting to read books, so our most recent season was incredibly successful. We sell most of our work online these days anyway, and promote through social media. We also had an online launch for our fifth season, which worked out beautifully because one of our authors is American, so we could include them in the launch. While we miss in-person launches and readings and markets so much, we’re also trying to think about the upsides and possibilities of the virtual world, creative-wise and accessibility-wise, now that we’re in it for the foreseeable future.

Why do you feel it’s important to focus on Canadian poets?

Is it that important?! I’m somewhat kidding—it is, and I get why you’re asking this question, but historically, small press began with pretty small communities and geographic locations, which is great. But one of the awesome things to happen over the last decade, in particular, is the rise of a global community of small presses. Folks like Petra Schulze-Wollgast (psw) in Germany, and Joakim Norling in Sweden, to name just a few, are helping to grow and sustain this global community with their small presses. So, while we have such a rich history of small press in Canada, and while we of course like to support Canadian writers and publish mostly Canadian writers, we also like to connect and tap into that larger community of writers across the globe.

Any other independent publishers you admire, want to work with?

There is such a wealth of inspiring presses that it’s hard to limit those we admire to only a few. Honestly, if you run a small press, we automatically admire you because we know dang well that this is hard, exhausting, beautiful, sustaining work that you/we are doing only because we love it and can’t imagine not doing it.

To name a few, though: internationally, we’ve been blown away by the works coming out of Petra Shulze-Wollgast (psw), Timglaset, and Penteract Press, among others. On home soil, we take a lot of influence from bill bissett and his work with Blew Ointment Press; he fought relentlessly for the right to create and sustain communities through uncensored publishing and we owe a lot of our work today to his efforts. We’re also continually astounded at the ingenious creativity of The Blasted Tree, the gorgeous works of Baseline Press, and of course the indefatigable Rob Mclennan and his above/ground press, who has been a tireless mentor, connector, and community-builder for small presses and poets across Canada and beyond.

What are your hopes for the future in regards to Gap Riot Press and the publishing community at large?

MORE WIMMIN RUNNING THINGS. We love how many wimmin and women and womyn and femmes and nbs and queer friends are starting their own presses and publishing some really beautiful, urgent, and necessary voices and works. We need more of that. We can never have enough of that! And in terms of Gap Riot, we hope to just continue breaking, dismantling, burning down and building up to make more room for others to come in, play, experiment, fail, try again and grow.

You can reach Gap Riot Press online at gapriotpress.com, where you’ll find their shop, archives of work, and their online Season Five Launch Party. You can also connect on Twitter @gapriotpress.

 

Kate Siklosi lives, writes, and thinks in Toronto. Her criticism has been featured in various journals and magazines including Canadian LiteratureJASTThe Walrus, and The Puritan. She has published five chapbooks of poetry, and her work has also been featured in various magazines and small press publications across North America, Europe, and the UK. She is the co-founding editor of Gap Riot Press, a feminist experimental poetry small press. 

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020 marks the 53rd anniversary of International Literacy Day. Created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) back in 1967, the day is meant to spread awareness about the importance of literacy worldwide. As students and teachers prepare to go back to school this fall, they are stepping into a whole new world of trying to learn during a global pandemic. This year, UNESCO is using International Literacy Day to highlight educators and the role they play in advancing literacy among youth and adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to UNESCO, the push to a more virtual society during the pandemic has only made the divide between the disadvantaged and the rest of the world deepen, hampering efforts in increasing literacy rates among the world’s less fortunate. In celebration of International Literacy Day, the Toronto International Festival of Authors spoke to two teachers about their experience teaching in the Spring of 2020 and preparing to enter the classroom in September 2020, and their efforts trying to advance literacy in the classrooms. 
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Olympic Strength & Unity: A Reading List 

Every four years, hundreds of thousands of people come together from around the world to cheer for their countries as they compete at the Summer OlympicsLike many events, this year’s iconic international sporting competition was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and consequently postponed until 2021 (July 23–August 8)In the 124-year history of the Olympic Games, this is the fourth time that they have been postponed; once prior in World War I and twice during World War II. 

Although we will have to wait another 12 months to watch The Games of the XXXII Olympiad unfold in Tokyowe can still share in the highs and lows of the Olympic Games through the stories written in books. We created this reading list that explores the ultimate tests of athletic ability, dedication, strength and unity since the Olympics’ inception: 

Gold
by Chris Cleav
e 

Gold is the story of Kate and Zoe, world-class athletes who have been friends and rivals since their first day of elite training. In the ultimate test of a mothers’ love, Kate’s eight-year-old daughter is battling a recurrence of childhood leukemia just as she is about to compete for her last chance at an Olympic gold medal. How can she do what is right for her daughter without abandoning all of her dreams?  

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
by Daniel James Brown
 

The #1 New York Times bestselling story about American Olympic triumph in Nazi Germany and the inspiration behind PBS documentary The Boys of ‘36Out of the depths of the Great Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times. The Boys in the Boat is the dramatic tale of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics. 

For the Glory
by Duncan Hamilton 

Many people will remember Eric Liddell as the Olympic gold medalist from the Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire. Famously, Liddell would not run on Sunday because of his strict observance of the Christian sabbath and so he did not compete in his signature event, the 100 meters, at the 1924 Paris Olympics. For the Glory is a story of athletic heroism and faith in the darkest of circumstances. 

Just Don’t Fall: A Hilariously True Story of Childhood, Cancer, Amputation, Romantic Yearning, Truth and Olympic Greatness
by Josh Sundquist 

Just Don’t Fall is the astounding story of Paralympian Josh Sundquist and his heroic struggle through numerous hospitalizations to become an award-winning skier (Italy 2006) and renowned motivational speaker. When he was just 9-years-old, Sundquist was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a virulent cancer strain that eventually claimed his left leg.  

The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory
by Julie Checkoway 

The New York Times bestselling inspirational story of impoverished Japanese-American children in Maui who transformed themselves into world-class swimmers in the 1930s. The malnourished children, who trained in irrigation ditches, outraced Olympic athletes twice their size, made headlines and broke world records. With the dawning of a world war and the cancellation of the Games, they would still go on to become the 20th century’s most celebrated heroes.  

Foxcatcher
by
 Mark Schultz 

New York Times bestseller and riveting true story of Olympic wrestling gold medalist brothers, Mark Schultz and Dave Schultz, and their fatal relationship with the eccentric John du Pont. On January 26, 1996, Shultz was shot three times at Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania. After a tense standoff, du Pont became the wealthiest convicted murderer of all time. Shultz’s memoir is now an Oscar-nominated motion picture. 

Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women
by 
Roseanne Montillo 

Fire on the Track is the inspiring true story of the women who broke barriers and finish-line ribbons in pursuit of Olympic gold at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Montillo traces the fascinating story of American high-school student Betty Robinsonwho became an Olympic track and field trailblazer, and the fastest woman in the world. 

This year marks the Centennial of late sci-fi fantasy legend Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012). Over his 70-year writing career, Bradbury sparked imagination in the minds of his readers, transporting them to worlds like no other. 

Bradbury grew up in the golden age of science fiction, getting his first taste for the genre when he was eight-years-old. In what was to be his final written piece, Take Me Home, Bradbury said that the creative beast within him first grew when he discovered space opera character Buck Rogers in 1928.

Admittedly, he went a “trifle mad that autumn”, Bradbury proclaims, “It’s the only way to describe the intensity with which I devoured the stories[…] You rarely have such fevers later in life that fill your entire day with emotion.” Years later, this would be the same effect that Bradbury would have on his readers.

It seems only fitting that it was a carnival magician named Mr. Electrico that opened Bradbury’s eyes to immortality and inspired him to start writing when he was twelve-years-old. From that moment on, he didn’t stop. Bradbury went on to become the mastermind behind The Martian Chronicles (1950), Farenheight 451 (1953), Dandelion Wine (1957) and Something Wicked Comes This Way (1962). 

“Without Ray Bradbury, there would be no Stephen King.” – Stephen King 

For renowned Canadian author Margaret Atwood, Bradbury’s stories “really sunk in.” Martian Chronicles is her favourite Bradbury novel. In an article written for The Guardian, Atwood said that Bradbury’s enthusiasm for his many devoted readers and his fellow writers never waned. 

I was greatly looking forward to meeting a writer who had been so much a part of my own early reading, especially the delicious, clandestine reading done avidly in lieu of homework, and the compulsive reading done at night with a flashlight when I ought to have been sleeping,” she wrote. Atwood explains that, “Stories read with such enthusiasm at such a young age are not so much read as inhaled […] They sink all the way in and all the way down, and they stay with you.”

His contribution to American fiction in the 20th Century has made him one of the most well-known writers of our time. In 2007, Bradbury received a Pulitzer citation for his “distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.” (Pulitzer)

“In an age of writing classes, he was self-taught; in an age of spin, his was an authentic voice, straight from the heartland; in an age of groomed images, he was a natural.” – Margaret Atwood 

In A Man Who Won’t Forget Ray Bradbury, accomplished fantasy writer Neil Gaiman said that Bradbury made him dream, taught him what words could accomplish and never let him down as a reader, even as an adult. “He left the world a better place, and left better places in it: the red sands and canals of Mars, the midwestern Halloweens and small towns and dark carnivals. And he kept writing,” Gaiman recalls. 

“He was a genre on his own, and on his own terms.” – Neil Gaiman

Beyond books, Bradbury scripted television programs and screenplays, including John Huston’s 1956 film version of Moby Dick. Bradbury is also the inspiration behind Elton John’s song, The Rocketman. 

“If he hadn’t existed, science fiction would have been a well-kept secret in literature instead of a widely consumed phenomenon” – Robert J. Sawyer 

And for that, we say thank you.  

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You can celebrate Ray Bradbury’s Centennial at events across the world at raybradbury.com/centennial