Ireland @ IFOA


The 37th International Festival of Authors is welcoming five contemporary Irish writers for our festival focuses: Ireland @ IFOA! With partners Poetry Ireland and Culture Ireland, we invite Canadian audiences to immerse themselves in Irish Literature and discover new favourites!


Win a trip to Ireland, courtesy of Tourism Ireland & Trafalgar! Discover Ireland’s UNESCO Cities of Literature, and see the literary landscapes and majestic scenery that have inspired writer for centuries. Ireland’s literary romance really is one for the books. The stories are written into the land and the ancient traditions and authors are celebrated all over the world. To enter click here!

Thursday, October 27, at 2pm in the Lakeside Terrace

Encounter contemporary Irish poets Julie Morrissy and Ciarán O’Rourke and discover Poetry Ireland’s Rising Generation.

Purchase tickets by clicking here


Friday, October 28, at 5:30pm in the Lakeside Terrace

Learn more about the writer’s creative process in Paul Muldoon’s Artist Talk. This event is partnership with Quill and Quire.

This event is FREE


Friday, October 28, at 8pm in the Fleck Dance Theatre

NOW Magazine’s book editor Susan G. Cole will sit down with Emma Donoghue for an intimate interview.

Purchase tickets by clicking here


Saturday, October 29, at 7pm in the Brigantine Room

Meet the Irish at Ireland @ IFOA! Catriona Crow, Emma Donoghue, Julie Morrissy,  Paul Muldoon, and Ciarán O’Rourke read from their latest works.

Purchase tickets by clicking here


Sunday, October 30th at 5:15pm in the Studio Theatre

Catriona Crowe will discuss Ireland’s violent revolution in her lecture, as  part of the Stranger Than Fiction series.

Purchase tickets by clicking here


The Ireland @ IFOA programme is curated by IFOA and Poetry Ireland with the generous support from Culture Ireland.

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Special thanks to the following organizations for their support:






The Nuts and Bolts of Writing


Sometimes, as a creative writing instructor, I feel like the squisher of dreams. It’s nothing I’m doing intentionally, but as I lead students through the building blocks of good fiction writing, I can’t help but imagine what some of them might be thinking: “Dude is killing the magic.”

For many writers, part of the allure of our craft is its mystery. Who knows what compels us to sit at the keyboard and transform our thoughts and ideas into words? Who knows why we spend our subway rides thinking about scenes and plot twists and people who don’t exist in real life? Who knows why we tear things down only to build them up again and again and again?

That mystery is what draws many of us into writing. Speaking for myself, I have no idea what compels me to write, other than the need to do it. And, for many of us, this is why the magic of writing is so appealing. It’s as though the writing is in control of us, rather than the other way around.

Writing should feel intuitive and personal. It’s a room we inhabit even when we’re not sure why we’re there. It’s an obsession of finding precise language. It’s a mystical experience, especially when our writing takes flight and surprises us in the best kinds of ways.

And while that magic needs to inhabit your writing, there’s another, non-magical side that isn’t quite as fun. That’s what I call the nuts and bolts of writing. In other words, our conscious writing. Nuts and bolts are the practical tools of the trade that you need to factor into your writing. I’m talking good dialogue, evocative settings, believable plot points, compelling characters and more. The nuts and bolts side of writing isn’t glamourous. It involves a lot of tedious work. Nuts and bolts aren’t always in sync with our imaginations and can sometimes interrupt our creative flows. But without the nuts and bolts, the magical side of your writing can’t flourish.

© Paula Wilson

© Paula Wilson

In my course, Becoming a Better Writer and the two workshops I co-present, Improving Your Writing and Publishing 101, I try to help emerging writers understand the importance of being conscious of their writing. And while some writers are resistant to completely letting go of their magical, intuitive sides, embracing the conscious side of writing doesn’t kill the magic. In fact, the best writers are highly aware of every aspect of their writing, both the conscious and subconscious elements. It’s only when you understand the relationship between the magical and practical sides of your writing that you can achieve the heights that all writers strive for.

Shakespeare Lives at IFOA



As part of William Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, the British Council and IFOA are celebrating his enduring legacy as one of the UK’s greatest cultural icon with an innovative and unique programme at the 37th edition of IFOA. These events will fall under the Shakespeare Lives banner, an unprecedented global programme celebrating his work. Without further ado, here are the list of events:


Shakespeare Lives in Poetry workshop

Friday, October 21, 2016 | All Day | Main Loft, Harbourfront Centre

Local spoken word poets, whether beginners or veterans, can sign up for the Shakespeare Lives in Poetry workshop on Friday, October 21st lead by Deanna Rodger, former UK Poetry Slam Champion. Participants will explore how Shakespeare’s sonnets can be utilized by contemporary voices in fresh and unexpected ways. The workshop will culminate in a performance by the participants. Download the Sign up form and e-mail us at to participate in the workshop!

Lunatics, Lovers and Poets

Saturday, October 22, 2016 | 5:00PM | Lakeside Terrace

For our Shakespeare Scholars, IFOA has partnered with both the British Council and the Embassy of Spain to present Lunatics Lovers and Poets, a reading from an anthology of short stories inspired by Shakespeare and Cervantes. Internationally renowned authors Hisham Matar and Marcos Giralt Torrente will read and discuss their work with author C.C. Humphreys on Saturday, October 22nd at 5pm. This event is co-presented with the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain. Purchase tickets to this event HERE.

Graphic Sonnet Exchange

Sunday, October 23, 2016 | 3:30PM | Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre

For those who prefer their Shakespeare abridged, graphic novelists Jonathan McNaught from the UK and Toronto-based John Martz, will create their own illustrated responses to a Shakespeare sonnet in the graphic novel form. They will discuss their process during the Graphic Sonnet Exchange on Sunday, October 23rd at 3:30pm where everyone in the audience will receive a copy of their creation. Purchase tickets to this event HERE.

Slave to Mortal Rage

October 25-27 | 6:00-9:00PM on Tuesday and 4:00-8:00PM on Wednesday & Thursday | Main Loft, Harbourfront Centre

IFOA is also thrilled to welcome the Slave to Mortal Rage virtual reality installation, making its Canadian premiere at the Festival from October 25th-27th. Inspired by Shakespeare’s sonnet 64, it is the third virtual reality installation by CiRCA69, a company described by Cineuropa Magazine as “one of the most notable names in Europe to be dealing with VR”. This is a FREE event.


Five Questions with…Nick Drnaso

Drnaso NickIFOA: How long did it take you to complete Beverly?

Nick Drnaso: About three years. Then a few months were spent editing and revising some of the artwork and dialogue, and laying out the book with a lot of assistance from Tracy Hurren and others at Drawn and Quarterly. The release date was just about four years after I started the first page.

IFOA: What comes first, the written story or the drawings?

Nick Drnaso: I always begin with the written story in a document on the computer, but I usually start drawing pretty soon after the writing begins, so it’s sort of like the art is always trying to catch up to the written story. In a way, it’s good that comics take so long to draw. Moments of tedium – ruling out panel borders and scanning artwork – are actually the best times to really critically examine what you’re working on, to try and catch any overlooked opportunities or unexplored avenues.

IFOA: As you probably know, this year the Festival is highlighting graphic novels. What do you love most about graphic novels?

Nick Drnaso: That’s a wide open question. I’m actually having trouble answering that. Some of the best comics stir a feeling in me that is similar to a great film, sometimes they’re more akin to a great album, and some feel more in line with literature or poetry. Come to think of it, there are some graphic novels that read similarly to a photo album or a yearbook. Or a fine art monograph. So I guess that’s my answer. They’re great because they’re malleable. They can adapt to fit the whims of the artist.

IFOA: What artist or writer inspires you?

Nick Drnaso: A few weeks ago I visited Roger Brown’s home and studio in Chicago, which has been preserved since he died in 1997. He’s one of my favorite painters. It was surreal to walk through his home and see the way he adorned nearly every inch of his walls with unusual artifacts, pieces from friends and fellow artists, strange outsider art, toys, and other ephemera.

A short list of things I’ve read recently: Showa: 1926-1939 by Shigeru Mizuki, The Fiancee and Other Stories by Chekhov, Deep Blues by Robert Palmer and Bright-Eyed at Midnight by Leslie Stein.

IFOA: What’s next for you?

Nick Drnaso: I’ve been working on another book since January of 2015. So far it’s going pretty well. I’ll hopefully be finished by the end of 2017, but that’s just an estimate.


Nick Drnaso is part of the Five Ways exhibit opening tonight at Harbourfront Centre and will take part in the Five Artists Five Ways: The Modern Graphic Novel round table at the Festival.

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