TIFA colour divider

Whether you are looking to complete a reading challenge, or just seeking an enjoyable way to pass the time, Canadian authors have a lot to offer your 2022 TBR (To Be Read) pile. From thrillers to memoirs, and poetry to stories for young readers, the Toronto International Festival of Authors has selected 10 books that showcase some of the incredible diversity and talent being published by Canadians this year. Read on, for our suggested new releases.

People Change book coverPeople Change by Vivek Shraya (Penguin Canada, January 4)

Canadian storyteller Vivek Shraya has embraced many roles throughout her work in music, literature, visual art, theatre and film. In People Change, Shraya explores this desire to change, the impulses behind doing something new, and the many ways people are drawn to change. Through the lens of her own life experiences, Sharya presents a new perspective, one that encourages you to celebrate the past, and to look forward to what will come next.

The Other Ones book coverThe Other Ones, written by Jamesie Fournier & illustrated by Jared Boggess (Inhabit Media Inc., March)

Featuring two stories that blend the elements of traditional Inuit mythology with the modern horror genre, debut author Jamesie Fournier’s The Other Ones is a dark, thrilling exploration into the monstrous forces awakened in a secluded cabin. How does a simple game with leftover string turn into a visit from the horrifying Inuunngittut? Be forewarned, this heart-pounding book is not for those easily spooked.

Burning Questions book coverBurning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004–2021 by Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart, March 1)

Margaret Atwood is back with even more powerful insight. This time, it’s an expansive collection of essays full of humour and curiosity. From asking why people everywhere tell stories to what zombies have to do with authoritarianism, Atwood explores a wide range of burning questions throughout the 50+ pieces published in this new book.

And a Dog Called Fig book coverAnd a Dog Called Fig: Solitude, Connection, the Writing Life by Helen Humphreys (HarperCollins, March 8)

Canadian poet and novelist Helen Humphreys’ latest work is a celebration of the loyal four-legged companion of writers everywhere. Through Humphreys’ own stories about her dog Fig, and additional tales from other writers like Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein and Thomas Hardy about the impact of their own dogs, And a Dog Called Fig mixes important lessons about the craft of writing and a life shared with a loving friend.

Jameela Green Ruins Everything book coverJameela Green Ruins Everything by Zarqa Nawaz (Simon & Schuster Canada, March 8)

Zarqa Nawaz, the creator of the hit CBC series Little Mosque on the Prairie, is back with another book called Jameela Green Ruins Everything. This time it’s a hilarious satire about an American Muslim woman named Jameela as she gets caught up in a chain of absurd and unfortunate events. From the simple wish of getting her memoir on The New York Times bestseller list, Jameela suddenly finds herself on a rescue mission involving the CIA and an international terrorist organization. It’s promising to be full of adventure, humour and heart. 

Cane | Fire book coverCane | Fire by Shani Mootoo (Book*hug, March 15)

Poetry enthusiasts are in luck with Shani Mootoo’s new collection, Cane | Fire. After a long-awaited return to poetry, Mootoo explores the past and present, going on a journey through Ireland, San Fernando, Canada and many more places along the way. The deeply personal poems challenge the idea of self, and how life can be shaped and reimagined.

What is Written on the Tongue book coverWhat Is Written on the Tongue by Anne Lazurko (ECW Press, April 26)

What Is Written on the Tongue is a new transportive historical novel by Saskatchewan-based author Anne Lazurko. Fans of her first novel, Dollybird, a winner of the WILLA Award for Historical Fiction, will be immersed in the throes of war and colonization as a drafted soldier recently released from Nazi forced labour finds himself lost between love and the horrors of battle.

This is How We Love book coverThis Is How We Love by Lisa Moore (House of Anansi, May 3)

East coast author Lisa Moore is known for creating incredibly complex and rich characters, and her latest book, This is How We Love, delivers in spades. Through the story of 21-year-old Xavier’s brutal attack during a snowstorm in Newfoundland, Moore showcases the sacrifice, pain and joy of family. As the events of Xavier’s night unfold, so do the stories of the generations before him that led to that unthinkable moment.

Young Readers

Martin and the River book coverMartin and the River, written by Jon-Erik Lappano & Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon (ages 3–6) (Groundwood Books, March 1)

A perfect book for young kids, Martin and the River is about a young boy’s experience having to move to a new home in the city, away from his favourite river in the country. While it’s a big change for Martin, he learns along the way that big changes also come with new places to explore. With beautiful illustrations, the book celebrates the wonderful connection kids can have with nature wherever they live.

The Queen of Junk Island book coverThe Queen of Junk Island by Alexandra Mae Jones (ages 16–18) (Annick Press, May 3)

Set during a humid summer in the mid-2000s, Alexandra Mae Jones’s debut novel follows 16-year-old Dell as she takes a much-needed escape at the family cabin. But with a lake filled with trash and having to navigate the suffocating expectations of everyone around her, Dell finds herself struggling with new feelings, family secrets and troubling dreams.

Woman with protective face mask reading a book in the bookstore

During the 42nd Toronto International Festival of Authors, writers of all genres of literature spoke about their experiences with the writing process. From first novels to exploring new topics, advice and experiences were shared that would benefit many aspiring writers. Whether you are taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November, or you simply enjoy learning more about a writer’s experience, here are six personal stories transcribed from Festival events, below.

Mateo Askaripour, author of Black Buck

Mateo Askaripour headshotBlack Buck was my third manuscript. I had written two manuscripts, one partially while I was still in the world of startups and sales. Writing for me at that time, back in 2016, became an outlet, and then I turned from writing essays and articles to writing fiction. And I found that, beyond an outlet, it was a very specific form of salvation. So, I tried my hand at writing a novel. I did. No one wanted it. And then at that point, I wasn’t even working at that company anymore, but I didn’t want to feed into this ‘starving artist’ cliché, you know. So, I was consulting with tech startups to make money, helping them build and maintain sales teams. I’d learned a little bit more about writing with the assistance of a book called Plot & Structure and just a lot of trial-and-error. I wrote a second book, which I thought was going to get me in, get me an agent. Nah, no one wanted that one as well. And then I said, you know what, I’m going to write the book that I want, in the way that I want, for the people I want it to resonate with, and that was Black Buck that I began in January 2018, and it worked out.”

Transcribed from: A New Way Forward: Mateo Askaripour & Natasha Brown (October 27)
Photo credit: Andrew FifthGod Askaripour.

S. Bear Bergman, author of Special Topics in Being A Human

S. Bear Bergman headshot“I would say that I have a bit of a tendency toward constant self-improvement, which is a mixed bag for a writer. Sometimes it’s very hard for me to decide ‘okay, this is done now’ and send it in. There’s a writer named Anne Lamott and she wrote a great book about writing called Bird by Bird and in it she talks about how, you know, finishing a draft is a little bit like putting an octopus to bed. At a certain point, you just have to get like most of the tentacles under the covers and then that’s it. You turn out the light and called it a happy day.”

Transcribed from: Special Topics in Being a Human: S. Bear Bergman (October 23)
Illustration credit: Saul Freedman-Lawson.

Tziporah Cohen, author of No Vacancy

Tziporah Cohen Headshot“I can tell you that my biggest challenge was believing that I could do it. I mean, I think I was my own worst enemy in the process. I had never seen myself as a novel writer. I came to writing to write picture books. I started my MFA to write picture books. And even when encouraged to write a novel, I kept saying I don’t write novels, and so I think that was the biggest hurdle for me, was just having the confidence to overcome that hesitancy. And of course, the next biggest challenge, which I’m sure everybody can relate to, is then finding the time and plugging through ’cause it’s hard.”

Transcribed from: The Jean Little First-Novel Award Shortlist (October 27)

Michelle Good, author of Five Little Indians

Michelle Good headshot“I think one of the most important things is ‘don’t use too many words’, you know, and I know it sounds simplistic, but know what your story is before you start. Know what your story is, and that doesn’t mean you need to know everything that’s going to turn, but know the heart of your story and then stay true to the heart of your story and, you know, don’t get lost in the weeds. Be true to your story and that applies to developing your characters too.”

Transcribed from: 2021 Evergreen Award™ Winner Michelle Good in Conversation (October 22)

Shari Lapena, author of Not a Happy Family

Shari Lapena headshot“I think it’s really good to write in secret. If that works for you. It worked for me. I think that everybody, I think a lot of creative people tend to censor themselves too much, and I think if you’re worried about pleasing other people or pleasing someone that knows that you’re writing that can put a lot of pressure on you. . . I don’t really believe in writer’s block, I just think it’s perfectionism getting in the way. So, I think what you should do is forget about perfectionism, forget about people knowing what you’re doing. If you are worried about people judging you, just don’t tell anyone what you’re doing so you can free up your creative impulse. And, you know, don’t worry about it being any good. You really have to get through a bunch of crap before you get the good stuff. And I think if you start writing, you’ll soon find that you start to find your own voice.”

Transcribed from: Kobo in Conversation with Shari Lapena (October 25)

Jesse Wente, author of Unreconciled

Jesse Wente headshot“It took me a while to figure it out. I had never written a book before, obviously. It was a new medium for me. I start the book with the first moment where life of an Indigenous person came up against the myth of Indigenous people in Canada, but really for me, the decision to write the book came at a time I sort of figured it out, or that’s not quite correct, because I haven’t figured that much out. You know, I’ve been asked to write a book several times before, and I always said no. I didn’t know what I would write about, what I had to say. You know, I was doing radio, it felt like I had the space to say whatever I wanted to already. I think it sort of took realizing, coming to a point in that journey of understanding my place in this world, my place within my community, how those two things are both connected, but also at times, at odds. It took that long to get comfortable, to give me the material to write a book. I never thought I would write a book about myself. I always imagine I would write about something else.”

Transcribed from: Unreconciled: Jesse Wente (October 25)
Photo credit: Red Works

Jesse Wente on stage at Harbourfront Centre during #FestofAuthors21

During the 42nd edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors, over 300 Canadian and international authors and artists generously shared their stories and the inspiration behind them. We heard from many viewers about all the ways these conversations and performances inspired their own creative work. Local Toronto artist Kaz Ogino started sharing with us the drawings she created while listening to authors, poets and performers share their passion of storytelling.

 Explore Kaz’s drawings below, and read what inspired them, in her own words.

Alan Cumming Talks About His Baggage

Art by Kaz - Two line drawings with half faces, shadows and shapesArt by Kaz - Three line drawings with leaves and shapes.

These pieces were drawn during the reading by Alan. I move my pen in a continuous line to the sound and sense of the words I’m hearing. This stage I call ‘taking a line for a walk’. The finishing work is about image, often but not always, envisioned by the content piece read. Here I used two images: Alan’s portrait by Christian Hood including the colours of the tartan in the portrait, and the second images are falling leaves, from Alan’s earliest memory and maybe influenced too by the season happening outside my window 🍁🍂😊.

Toronto Poetry Slam

For drawings making up the word POET. This piece is from the TIFA & Toronto Poetry Slam event. My 22 drawings from this event suggested the alphabet and with a bounty of performance poetry events offered, I’ll have material for several versions and to keep my ‘line walking’ 😊

I am also a hobby numerologist. Each letter is represented with a number from 1 to 9. For example, S is 1, and I surprisingly found a home for the drawing of the poetry from slam poet Symbolik. These serendipitous connection are ramping up even higher through my enjoyment of the TIFA events.

The World of Upside Down, Inside Out Superheroes with Sophy Henn

A shadow drawing of a child reading a book. Surrounding the child is swirls and colour loops

Kid’s books are among my favorite genres, both for their perspectives and art. I think that the Pizazz series is right up there with Shel Silverstein for excellence of story, illustration and design. Sophy’s playful page layouts are so inspiring and seem to literally animate the story.

A famous Picasso quote, also echoed in different ways by many well known artists goes: “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

Bonus: Toronto Festival of Authors 2021 (an English Madrigal poem)

A festival of authors on parade
11 days of brilliance to hear and inhale
Spell binding, head scratching and ideas to scale

Authors, performers, and teachers by trade
Wisdom, experience, and concepts unveiled
A festival of authors on parade
11 days of brilliance to hear and inhale

Readings, interviews and spoken word played
A cornucopia of talent on a large scale
And from the word smiths, a holiest of grails
A festival of authors on parade
11 days of brilliance to hear and inhale
Spell binding, head scratching and ideas to scale

Kaz Ogino headshotKaz Ogino is a Japanese-Canadian artist living in Toronto, Canada. See more of Kaz’s art at artbykaz.ca or on Instagram @artbykaz.ca.

While these events are no longer available to watch for free, you can still check out the events from the last three days of the Festival here.

A shadow drawing of a child reading a book. Surrounding the child is swirls and colour loops

The 42nd edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors is almost here! If you have browsed the 200+ events with Canadian and international authors, artists and performers, but aren’t sure how to make the most of it, you have come to the right place.

Here are some tips and tricks to make your virtual visit at the Festival a fantastic one:

1) Register, register, register

Once you have created a TIFA account, it’s time to register for as many Festival events as you would like! Whether it’s attending the first event of the day, the last one, or each one in between, be sure to add the events to your personal itinerary by clicking the yellow ‘Sign up/in to register for this event’ button on each page. Unless it’s a Humber Masterclass or an event taking place on Zoom, you can enjoy the reading, conversation or performance for 72 hours after it launches, so don’t worry about any overlapping events.

2) Share the news

Once you’ve signed up for events, share the news with friends and family! Whether it’s your favourite author or a panel discussion on a shared interest, let them know so they can join in on the conversation. If you share the news on social media, be sure to follow and tag us using:

Facebook, Instagram & Twitter: @FestofAuthors
Hashtag: #FestofAuthors21 and #TIFAKids

3) Keep an eye on your email

Once you have signed up an event, TIFA will provide all updates and reminders to you via email. Be sure to add us to your safe senders list (enews@festivalofauthors.ca and support@festivalofauthors.ca) to avoid missing important information about your events. If you haven’t received anything, be sure to check your spam folder.

Your event reminder emails will provide a direct link to your TIFA Account page, where you select the day’s events from your personal itinerary. If an event will be taking place on Zoom or another platform, we will indicate this on the event page, and email you the direct link prior to the event.

4) Tune in live or watch on your own time

With most of the events being available to watch for 72 hours, you can tune in at the scheduled time or enjoy at your convenience. No matter how you watch, be sure to log in and access the event through your personal itinerary in your TIFA Account.

Humber Masterclasses and events taking place on Zoom will only be available to watch live, so be sure to check the event description for those details.

5) Have some family fun

With over 30 TIFA Kids events taking place from October 21–31, you can settle in together and enjoy readings, activities and conversations with the creators of today’s leading books for young people. There are events for all ages that explore stories of love, quests, friendship and family. You can browse #TIFAkids events here.

6) Learn from the pros

Humber Masterclasses are back this year, and whether you are a new writer or just looking to pick up new techniques from world-class authors, there are sessions every day of the Festival for you to check out. Pick your favourite or attend all 11 classes with instructors like recent #ScotiabankGillerPrize shortlisted authors Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill. Classes are $56 to join. Browse the classes here.

7) Tune in daily for recurring mini-series

In addition to exciting author talks and interviews each day, there are also daily performances, Can You Hear Me Now? commission readings and Critical Conversations. Authors, artists and performers will be sharing their talents each day, and then each night, hear from the experts in a wide range of fields as they discuss important social and political events during the Critical Conversation series.

8) Experience a new language

During the Festival this year, 14 events will take place in languages other than English. Tune in to experience storytelling in Bengali, French, Greek, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil and more. English captions will also be provided.

9) Explore special offers

Support local businesses with special offers from Raven Rising, The Green Jar, The Westin Harbour Castle Toronto and UofT Bookstore. The promotional offers will be available from October 19–31, 2021, here.

10) Buy the books

Whether you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or a physical copy for reading, TIFA has you covered. Our official Booksellers are UofT Bookstore and Rakuten Kobo, so you can read the Festival titles however you wish. You can purchase the books directly from each event page, or feel free to browse UofT Bookstore and Kobo online.

UofT Bookstore is offering 15% off all TIFA Festival titles and free shipping on domestic orders of over C$100.

Need more guidance?

Visit the Festival FAQ page here or email our customer support team at support@festivalofauthors.ca.

Check out the full schedule of #FestofAuthors21 events here.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson on stage at Harbourfront Centre. There is a big screen lit behind her with TIFA logos and red and blue lights shining down. She is joined on stage by her band members.

Exceptional stories are being told all around the world, by masterful writers with fascinating perspectives. Every year, the programmers at the Toronto International Festival of Authors scour the globe to uncover brilliant writers beyond our borders, who are creating work that book lovers here at home need to read. This year’s 42nd Festival edition, taking place October 21 to 31, 2021, features award-winning and chart-topping authors from over 60 countries.

From Jamaica to Japan, and many nations in-between, here is a small selection of the international sensations you can meet virtually at #FestofAuthors21:

Rabih Alameddine headshotRabih Alemeddine (Lebanon / US)

Born in Amman, Jordan to Lebanese parents and raised in both Lebanon and Kuwait, Rabih Alemeddine is a National Book Award and National Book Critics’ Circle Award finalist. His highly acclaimed work has focused on topics that include AIDS and the Lebanese Civil War. Alemeddine’s most recent novel, The Wrong End of the Telescope, was released in September 2021 and follows an Arab American trans woman’s journey among Syrian refugees on the island of Lesbos.

Rabih Alemeddine will participate in the following event:

Finding Humanity in Crisis: Rabih Alemeddine & Omar El Akkad
Tuesday, October 26 at 5:30pm ET

Photo credit: Oliver Wasow.

Tahmima Anam (UK / Bangladesh)

Tahmima Anam is a Bangladeshi-born British writer whose first novel, A Golden Age, debuted in 2007. In addition to being a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, she has been awarded the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and has been named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists. Her most recent novel, The Startup Wife, was selected as one of the best books of 2021 by The Observer, Stylist, Cosmopolitan, Red and the Daily Mail.

Tahmima Anam will participate in the following event:

When Love and Technology Collide: Tahmima Anam & Genki Ferguson
Sunday, October 1 at 1pm ET

Photo credit: Abeer Hoque.

Karl Ove Knausgaard headshotKarl Ove Knausgaard (Norway)

Karl Ove Knausgaard is a Norwegian author best known for his six autobiographical novels and has been described as “one of the 21st century’s greatest literary sensations” by the Wall Street Journal. His work has won a number of awards, including the Jerusalem Prize, the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature and the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize. At this year’s Festival, Knausgaard will present his 2020 novel The Morning Star.

Karl Ove Knausgaard will participate in the following event:

The Morning Star: Karl Ove Knausgaard
Saturday, October 23 at 6pm ET

Kei Miller headshotKei Miller (Jamaica)

Kei Miller is a highly acclaimed Jamaican poet, novelist and essayist who has won major awards for his poetry, fiction and non-fiction work. Miller is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been named as one of 20 “Next Generation Poets” by the Poetry Book Society. At this year’s Festival, Miller will present Things I Have Withheld, his newest collection of essays, which explores conversations on race, sex and gender.

Kei Miller will participate in the following event:

The Disorientation of Discrimination: Kei Miller & Ian Williams
Thursday, October 21 at 3pm ET

Photo credit: Naomi.

Eto Mori headshotEto Mori (Japan)

Born and raised in Tokyo, Eto Mori has been a literary star in Japan for over 30 years. Initially released over 20 years ago, Mori’s beloved and bestselling novel Colorful was released in English in July 2021 to great critical acclaim. Since its original 1998 release, Colorful has become a crucial part of the international literary canon, adapted into three different films and translated into seven languages.

Eto Mori will participate in the following event:

Colorful: Eto Mori
Friday, October 29 at 4:30pm ET

Eto Mori’s Festival appearance is generously supported by The Japan Foundation.

Photo credit: Toshiharu Sakai.

Sofi Oksanen headshotSofi Oksanen (Finland)

Born and raised in Central Finland, Sofi Oksanen is an internationally critically acclaimed writer whose work has been translated into more than 40 languages, sold more than two million copies, and been adapted into two films. Oksanen’s work has been compared to that of Margaret Atwood and Stieg Larsson, and she has been called the “Finnish-Estonian Charles Dickens.” At this year’s Festival, Oksanen will present her most recent novel, The Dog Park.

Sofi Oksanen will participate in the following event:

Dark Secrets of History: Roy Jacobsen & Sofi Oksanen
Sunday, October 24 at 4pm ET

Sofi Oksanen’s Festival appearance is generously supported by Nordic Bridges.

Polly Samson headshotPolly Samson (UK)

Born in London, Polly Samson is an author, lyricist and journalist. In addition to her three novels and two collections of short stories, she has written lyrics for four different number-one albums, including works by Pink Floyd. Published in 2021, Samson’s most recent novel, A Theatre for Dreamers, reached number two on the Sunday Times bestseller list.

Polly Samson will participate in the following event:

Breaking Free: Polly Samson & Zoe Whittall
Sunday, October 24 at 1:30pm ET

Photo credit: Harry Borden.

Maria Stepanova headshotMaria Stepanova (Russia)

Russian poet and novelist Maria Stepanova has been described as “Russia’s next great writer.” Born and raised in Moscow, her work has been translated into English, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Hebrew and Finnish. Stepanova’s most recent work, In Memory of Memory, received international critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize.

Maria Stepanova will participate in the following event:

In Memory of Memory: Maria Stepanova
Sunday, October 24 at 5pm ET

Photo credit: Andrey Natotsinsky.

Colm Toibin headshot Colm Tóibín (Ireland)

Colm Tóibín is an Irish author, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic and poet who splits his time between Dublin and New York. Called “a champion of minorities” after his reception of the 2011 Irish PEN Award, Tóibín has been included in The Observer’s list of Britain’s 300 figures “leading our cultural discourse.” At this year’s Festival, Tóibín will present his tenth novel, The Magician.

Colm Tóibín will participate in the following event:

The Magician: Colm Tóibín
Friday, October 22 at 6:30pm ET

Photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe.

You can learn more about all the 2021 authors, performers and artists joining the 42nd Toronto International Festival of Authors here. Also be sure to check out events being presented in French, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese and more here.

Rabih Alameddine headshot

Over the years, thousands of authors have launched careers on the stages of the Toronto International Festival of Authors, from the world’s most established voices to captivating debuts. As we enter the 42nd edition of the Festival, taking place October 21 to 31, 2021, we are delighted to welcome back many esteemed bestsellers, but are equally excited to celebrate dozens of new stories and perspectives being shared by emerging authors whose stars are on the rise.

With memoirs, novels and poetry collections, here is a selection of just some of the new voices you won’t want to miss at #FestofAuthors21:

Kerri Arsenault headshotKerri Arsenault

After leaving her childhood home of Mexico, Maine, Kerri Arsenault began to understand the hazards caused by the working-class town’s primary business — an environmentally destructive paper mill that earned the area the nickname “Cancer Valley.” Mill Town is Arsenault’s debut investigative memoir, following the rise and fall of the working class, and ultimately posing the question: What are we willing to sacrifice for our own survival?

Kerri Arsenault will participate in the following event:

The Human Cost of Big Industry: Kazim Ali & Kerri Arsenault
Sunday, October 24 at 6:30pm ET

Photo credit: Erik Madigan Heck.

Mateo Askaripour headshotMateo Askaripour

After quitting his sales job in 2016, Mateo Askaripour became a writer, starting with essays. His debut novel, Black Buck, is a satirical commentary on racism in the American workforce and is loosely based on Askaripour’s real-life experiences. Initially struggling with the novel, a trip to the Rhode Island Writers Colony helped him realize that his book needed to address his own unresolved issues with startup corporate culture.

Mateo Askaripour will participate in the following event:

A New Way Forward: Mateo Askirapour & Natasha Brown
Wednesday, October 27 at 3pm ET

Photo credit: Andrew FifthGod Askaripour.

Kavita Bedford headshotKavita Bedford

Shortlisted for the 2021 Queensland Literary Awards, Australian-Indian writer Kavita Bedford’s debut novel, Friends & Dark Shapes, is a story of grief, gentrification, youth and friendship. Released in March 2021, Bedford’s novel takes place in inner-city Sydney, exploring the city’s vibrancy while simultaneously using it as a stand-in for gentrification worldwide, and following a nameless narrator as she processes the loss of her father and navigates her changing life.

Kavita Bedford will participate in the following event:

Edges and Changes: Aimee Wall & Kavita Bedford
Friday, October 22 at 8pm ET

Asha Bromfield headshotAsha Bromfield

Asha Bromfield is an actress, singer and writer currently based in Toronto. Known for her roles on The CW’s Riverdale and Netflix’s Locke and Key, Bromfield’s debut young adult novel, Hurricane Summer, was released in May 2021. The young adult novel is a coming-of-age story exploring family secrets, colourism and classism against the background of the protagonist’s time spent in Jamaica.

Asha Bromfield will participate in the following event:

Loss, Heartbreak & Hurricanes with Asha Bromfield & Courtney Summers
Sunday, October 24 at 2:30pm ET

Maisy Card HeadshotMaisy Card

Maisy Card’s debut novel, These Ghosts Are Family, is a sweeping tale of a family’s secrets, identities and traumas. The novel travels between New York and Jamaica, exploring the history of colonialism in Jamaica and its continued impacts. Card cites her own family history as inspiration for the novel and its characters.

Maisy Card will participate in the following events:

Journeys and Generations: Maisy Card and Lauren Francis-Sharma
Saturday, October 23 at 5pm ET

Can You Hear Me Now? Maisy Card
Tuesday, October 26 at 12pm ET

Photo credit: Marian Calle.

Therese Estacion headshotTherese Estacion

After surviving a rare, nearly fatal infection, Therese Estacion wrote her debut book of poetry, Phantompians. Estacion’s poetry takes inspiration from Filipino horror and folk tales and reflects on themes of grief, mourning and disability, piecing together her memories of recovering from her illness.

Therese Estacion will participate in the following event:

The Body Poetic: Therese Estacion & Charlie Petch
Wednesday, October 27 at 9pm ET

Photo credit: Angela Gzowsk.

Genki Ferguson headshotGenki Ferguson

Growing up in Calgary, Genki Ferguson looked forward to his family trips to rural areas of southern Japan where, absent the light pollution of the big city, he could finally see the stars and stare into space. Inspired by these childhood memories, Ferguson’s debut novel, Satellite Love, is set in a rural Japanese town in 1999, and is a heartbreaking science-fiction love story between a girl, a boy and a satellite.

Genki Ferguson will participate in the following events:

Can You Hear Me Now? Genki Ferguson
Friday, October 22 at 12pm ET

When Love and Technology Collide: Tahmima Anam & Genki Ferguson
Sunday, October 31 at 1pm ET

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia headshotCheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic and writer who splits her time between Halifax and Lagos. Her debut novel, The Son of the House, is on the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist and is a finalist for the Nigeria Prize for Literature 2021. The novel, drawing inspiration from Nigerian fables and cinema, follows two Nigerian women over four decades, celebrating female friendship and resilience in the face of a world dominated by men.

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia will participate in the following event:

Woman of the World: Scholastique Mukasonga & Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia
Sunday, October 31 at 3:30pm ET

Meg Remy headshotMeg Remy

Meg Remy is an experimental pop singer and Juno Award nominee, under the name U.S. Girls. Her debut memoir, Begin by Telling, is told in a series of personal, lyrical essays. Through her essays, Remy weaves an extremely personal tale, discussing her experiences with topics including sexual assault and abortion, set against the backdrop of larger world events, such as war and acts of terror.

Meg Remy will participate in the following event:

Begin by Telling: Meg Remy
Saturday, October 30 at 8:30pm ET

Photo credit: Emma McIntyre.

You can learn more about all the 2021 authors, performers and artists joining us here.

Genki Ferguson headshot

Winter/Spring 2022 Season Call For Submissions  

Submissions accepted: August 5 – September 5, 2021 
For book launches taking place: January – June, 2022 

The Toronto Lit Up Committee is now accepting submissions for the Winter/Spring 2022 programming season, taking place between January and June, 2022. Torontonians who will be published authors within three months of the season dates, and their publishers, are invited to apply for book launch support. The submission deadline is September 5, 2021.  

Toronto Lit Up support includes promotional assistance and funding for qualifying book launch events that are open to the public and free to attend. The committee will consider a wide variety of event formats, including readings, interviews, panel discussions, and multi-disciplinary performances. In addition to supplementing event expenses, authors will receive a C$200 honorarium. Toronto Lit Up encourages publishers to include honorarium fees for any additional artists (performers, interviewers, hosts, etc.) in their event fee proposals. 

After moving exclusively to virtual event formats in 2020, Toronto Lit Up will once again welcome submissions for book launch events that are held live and in person in 2022. Consideration will be given to health and safety event protocols and compliance with Toronto Public Health guidelines.

All submissions will be reviewed and adjudicated by the Toronto Lit Up Committee, composed of Ayesha Chatterjee (past president, League of Canadian Poets), Alison Jones (Quill and Quire) and Hazel Millar (Literary Press Group). Decisions by the committee are final. 

Click here for more information

Toronto Lit Up logos

Toronto Lit Up logo with "Spotlighting Toronto Writers"

In celebration of National Poetry Month in April, The Power Plant and the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) invited the public to write ekphrastic poems inspired by one of The Power Plant’s Fall 2020 exhibitions.

Ekphrastic poetry is poetry written about a work of art, often striving to connect what we see with feelings, memories and other insights. Well-known examples include Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats and Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by William Carlos Williams.

The contest submissions were pre-judged by Roland Gulliver, Director of TIFA, then judged by Elder Duke Redbird. We are thrilled to announce the finalists are:

Inspired by Nathan Eugene Carson: Cut from the same cloth

  • Winner: LAID BARE by Darian Razdar
  • Honourable Mention: Same Cut, Same Cloth by Vanilla Being (Victoria Atteh)

Inspired by Manuel Mathieu: World Discovered Under Other Skies

  • Winner: Hung Up by Peter Gillies
  • Honourable Mention: Seen by Anna Jane McIntyre
  • Honourable Mention: Wake by Kim Mcghee

Inspired by Howie Tsui: From swelling shadows, we draw out bows

  • Winner: a whirring sound pinged off the walls by Javier Fuentes
  • Honourable Mention: ACTS OF SURRENDER by Shanan Kurtz

The winning poems can be found below, and if you would like to read all of the poems by the finalists, you can read them here. You can also hear the finalists read their poems on SoundCloud here.

Winning Poems

LAID BARE by Darian Razdar

Inspired by Nathan Eugene Carson: Cut from the same cloth

I. Shine On

Only so much here
two eyes can show you
yet so much to know, perceive.

Look in the mirror
find your self there — wait!
Your eyes, perhaps, deceive you.

In that mirror, see
Black skin, white mask shrouds
before you, I was just me.

II. Divine Feminine

Leave me alone,
don’t you see?
In these blues
my body craves its extremities.

Let this be,
where I stretch hand to foot
folding toward my beingness
alive and divine. You see —

the small of my back,
these heavy shoulders and tired hands,
both raying legs, my gilded skin haloing
do not serve you, but me.

I see you
implore you,
the depths of the blues
were meant for few.

Yet you are all here
a staring contest
I was born to win.
You see me,

leave me alone.

III. Encounter

Breath. Stop and stare
lay in wait, do no crack,
stay strong, soft, and still
now — if not until infinity.

In such silence become comfortable
my sentry pose even bearable
and yet, as cause arrives surely at effect,
shall I blink and betray my glare?

You there! How familiar so you seem
our bodies both shine divine and shimmer
your eyes match mine — finally, fragile
as if we were meant to be.

Cut from the same cloth
of nights in hurt and pain, or so they say,
come closer, closer and between us we may
stitch together a new, golden day.

— Darian Razdar

Hung Up by Peter Gillies

(incidentally, between Rivière Froide 1 and Rivière Froide 3 for the first time)

Inspired by Manuel Mathieu: World Discovered Under Other Skies

You are spending an unusually long time
being here, in my face.
Such presence sometimes signals curiosity,
an intense data sensory process and attention span.

I take this as a friendly posture,
a desire to “understand the artist’s meaning”,
which must be grounded in empathy
for the form, for the context.
Mustn’t it?

This is how dialogue develops right?
Something presents.
Your feet may flirt around the hall,
but when they arrive there is a settling in
and a respectful stillness.

Then there is resonance. It tugs.
A gravitational attraction of sorts—
or more precisely, a perturbation
of my relationship with Earth.
Though I cannot physically move.

This sense of your presence, however, can be illusory.
An adaptation, I imagine,
from centuries of mankind’s polite surveillance of the masters.

And as you may rightly observe,
I am but a naïve youngster.
Inexperienced, with only a handful of hangings.

What’s one to do?
Isn’t an emotional reaction inevitable?
Notwithstanding the “do not touch” sign.

Let us imagine for a moment
that I am the master, the object of respect,
the reason you and I are here.

Or, perhaps I am the brush,
connecting intention with interpretation,
elevating poses, entering fantasies.
Many bristles, one point.

Either way, I might have something to say.
And you might not shuffle along quite so soon.
And leave me hanging.

— Peter Gillies

a whirring sound pinged off the walls by Javier Fuentes

Inspired by Howie Tsui: From swelling shadows, we draw out bows

somewhere in the labor of ruin*
ghostly marauders peaked through the scaffolding
lit up by myths and folktales

those carriers of memory
were as strong as the arms that held the bow
while the shadows carried our attention

through that cavernous silence
when we dissolved our intentions
a whirring sound pinged off the walls

— Javier Fuentes

*Sadek, W. (2016). The ruin to come: essays from a protracted war

Manuel Mathieu art hung on the wall at The Power Plant, Resilience - a Landscape of Desire, 2020.

The beginning of April marks the start of National Poetry Month. It’s been 23 years since Canada started celebrating the occasion, and this year the League of Canadian Poets has invited the community to celebrate with the theme of resilience.

There are many poets who have shared their stories through different forms of verse, prose and poems. To celebrate these poets and their stories, the Toronto International Festival of Authors has selected eight writers in Canada who have recently celebrated (or will soon!) the release of their debut poetry books that share their perspectives, experiences and stories of resilience.

Cicely Belle Blain

Cicely Belle Blain headshot
Photo via arsenalpulp.com

Cicely Belle Blain is a Black/mixed, queer femme who has made an impact through their passion for justice, liberation and meaningful change via transformative education. Blain is noted for founding Black Lives Matter Vancouver, and through poetry, Blain has continued making an impact. Their debut book, Burning Sugar (August 2020) was published under the VS. Books imprint from Arsenal Pulp Press. Burning Sugar explores life, both through the beauty of friendship and love, as well as the legacy of colonization and its impact on Black bodies.



Junie Désil

Junie Désil headshot
Photo via talonbooks.com

Poet Junie Désil has performed at many literary events and festivals, and her work has appeared in Room Magazine, PRISM International, the Capilano Review and CV2. In September 2020, Désil’s debut poetry collection eat salt | gaze at the ocean was published by Talon Books. Throughout the collection, she uses a zombie metaphor to explore Black sovereignty, Haitian sovereignty and the treatment of Black bodies, with her own experience of growing up Black and Haitian of immigrant parents on stolen Indigenous Lands shaping the work.








Jessi MacEachern

Jessi MacEachern headshot
Photo via invisiblepublishing.com

Jessi MacEachern, a poet and English literature teacher in Montreal, has had her work published in Poetry Is Dead, Vallum, MuseMedusa, Canthius, PRISM and CV2. Last month, MacEachern celebrated the launch of her debut collection, A Number of Stunning Attacks (Invisible Publishing). The six poems draw on innovative styles by women poets in Canada, using the page and sparse lines to lead readers through fragmented moments, putting them in a position to feel and experience it first-hand. It leads to an intimate look at the emotional difficulty of facing the self and the other.





Tolu Oloruntoba

Tolu Oloruntoba headshot
Photo Credit: Franctal Studio via tolu.ca

Tolu Oloruntoba is a writer, project manager and founder of Klorofyl, a literary and graphic art magazine. Born in Nigeria, and after living there and in the United States, Oloruntoba emigrated to Canada and now lives in the Greater Vancouver Area with his family. His chapbook Manubrium was shortlisted for the 2020 bpNichol Chapbook Award. This May, his debut poetry collection The Junta of Happenstance will be published by Anstruther Books. The collection explores dis-ease, both through Oloruntoba’s former experience working as a physician and through family disfunction, (im)migrant experience and urban/corporate anxiety.







Natasha Ramoutar

Natasha Ramoutar headshot

Natasha Ramoutar is an Indo-Guyanese writer by way of Scarborough. In September 2020, her debut book, Bittersweet was published by Mawenzi House. Through her memory, and the help of photographs, maps, language and folklore, Ramoutar explores the concept of home, belonging and resilience. She is one of the editors of Feel Ways: A Scarborough Anthology, and will be celebrating the launch of the book on April 30 through the Toronto Lit Up programme.





jaye simpson

jaye simpson headshot
Photo via twitter.com

jaye simpson, a Two-Spirit Oji-Cree person of the Buffalo Clan, often writes about being queer in the child welfare system, and being queer and Indigenous. simpson performed at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in 2017, performed with the Vancouver Slam Poetry 2018 Team and was named the Vancouver Champion for the Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2019. Their work has also been featured in Poetry Is Dead, This Magazine and PRISM international. simpson’s debut poetry book was published in September 2020 by Nightwood Editions. The collection, it was never going to be okay, is where simpson tries to break down years of silence, exploring intergenerational trauma, Indigeneity and queerness.



Lily Wang

Lily Wang headshot
Photo via gordonhillpress.com

On the CBC’s Best Canadian Poetry list of 2020 is Lily Wang’s debut collection Saturn Peach (Gordon Hill Press, August 2020). Through the book, Wang chronicles the strangeness of a technologized world, leading readers into a dream-like state by exploring memories and moments. Heartbreaking, but also warm and inviting, the collection is one that readers will feel the desire to read again once it’s over. Lily Wang is the founder and editor of Half a Grapefruit Magazine. Her work has appeared in Peach Mag, the Puritan, the Hart House Review and more.







Ash Winters

Ash Winters headshot
Photo by Andrew Rowat

Ash Winters, a queer and sober Toronto-based poet, navigates the intersections of addiction, identity and trauma in their work. In their debut poetry book, Run Riot: Ninety Poems in Ninety Days (Dagger Editions, January 2021), readers get a deeply personal look at Winters’ stay in rehab. The collection of 90 poems, one for each day of their stay, gives an honest exploration of the challenges and emotions of overcoming addiction. It’s heartfelt and humorous, and you can learn more about the collection during the Toronto Lit Up launch on April 3.

Natasha Ramoutar headshot