(L to R) Maxime Raymond Bock, Deputy Director Christine Saratsiotis, Alissa York and Shari Lapena
“From the taxi that brought me from the airport to Thessaloniki, I looked into the distance, in the heat, at dark, undulating mountains, at stocky houses under ochre sandstone shingles, wondering what surprises awaited me in a country of which I knew only a few philosophers, and the somewhat intricate families of its mythical gods. I looked for points of reference that might draw me closer to these unfamiliar parts, and I was excited to come speak about a literature that, I suspected, would be equally as unfamiliar.”
—Maxime Raymond Bock
This past May, our director, Geoffrey E. Taylor and deputy director, Christine Saratsiotis, took three Canadian authors to Thessaloniki, Greece for the Thessaloniki International Book Fair as part of our International Touring programme. Upon their return, we asked Maxime Raymond Bock, Alissa York and Shari Lapena about their most surprising travel experiences and general perceptions of Canadian literature in Greece.
In 1994, the Ontario Library Association (OLA) founded the Forest of Reading programme as a way to promote literacy in Ontario and celebrate Canadian literature with the help of public and in-school librarians. Today, it’s Canada’s largest annual literary festival for young readers, and offers eight programmes – all named after trees – for kids and adults alike.
Every May, students are invited to vote for their favourite Canadian title. Winners are announced in multiple age groups during the Festival of Trees. With the programme’s 24th instalment fast approaching (May 15-18, 2018), we spoke with children’s author Wesley King, who not only won the Silver Birch Award for his book OCDaniel but also participated in the Forest of Reading programme when he was a child. We asked King what it was like to win an award for something so closely tied to his childhood:
IFOA 2015’s Drawing (Graphic) Conclusions panel © Julian Bynoe
May is the season of comics in Toronto thanks to the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (May 12-13). As spring weather draws you out and about, we wanted to recommend some titles to read on your commute.
Last week, the Between Words and Worlds: New Canadian Women’s Writing panel had a great conversation at the Harbourfront Centre as part of the IFOA Weekly. We wanted to continue the discussion here by allowing the authors to share their thoughts on “in-betweenness” starting by revisiting the moderator, Soraya Peerbaye’s, answer to the question: “What does in-betweenness mean to you as someone juggling identities, and whether or not you feel yourself engaged in a diasporic conversation?”
I don’t believe that my experience of in-betweenness is about juggling identities, about strategies or positions of identity. For me it’s relational; relations not only between places, cultures, and experiences, but also between what is known and unknown; relations with time, who we were, how we are catalyzed, how we awaken to new senses of ourselves.
If anything, I think the critique of CanLit,that is now at the fore, emerges from a sense that white/settler literature is sometimes isolated; asleep to the way its material is animated by tensions of history, of contemporary movements; asleep to the overtones in the voices of its characters. Yes, I feel myself engaged in a diasporic conversation, deeply – but that is a conversation I’ve sought to be a part of, and to be changed by. It isn’t inherent to identity.
You can read more over at Between Words and Worlds with Soraya Peerbaye.