amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Kiki goes to Toronto - Notes from IFOA +:- October, 2017

 From October 18-23, I had the pleasure of visiting Toronto for the purposes of reading at the International Festival of Authors, a grand writers' fest that celebrates writers and the world of publishing from all over the globe.I was invited to read from Kiki, the poetry book Chaudiere Books lovingly published in 2014. I was featured at two events: A Conversation with Amanda Earl and Chantel Acevedo; and Poetic New Worlds. Here are a few notes and  highlights.
[And if you see any omissions or errors, please let me know and i'll fix.]

1. Riding the train in style on VIA 1. Those spicy non peanut snacks are delish, as is the G&T. I brought along one of my fav Kiki books to prepare for my first IFOA event, which was a reading and on stage conversation.
 I arrived on IFOA eve and had the pleasure of attending Toronto's first zine off at the Steady organized by Maxx Critical and JM Francheteau, former Ottawan and organizer of zine offs here.I had the chance to chat with former Ottawans, Craig Calhoun and Cat Belshaw, which was a pleasure. I'm sorry to hear that the Steady is closing. It was a fun place to hang out and reminded me a bit of Pressed in Ottawa, where the Ottawa Zine Offs were held.

Next day I checked in at the IFOA office in Harbourfront Centre where I received my red folder full of information, money and a list of events, dinners and parties I could attend. The staff was super friendly and I felt very welcome. The Green Room was next door where participants could enjoy food and drink throughout the festival.
 I met a lot of great people in person who I got to talk to previously only via social media, or had met briefly in Ottawa. Pictured here: Phoebe Wang, the host for the 2nd event I read at: Poetic New Worlds; Kateri Lanthier and Canisia Lubrin. Photo credit: Catherine Graham. Phoebe was an amazing host for the Poetic New Worlds event, going over all of our bios with us beforehand.

At the hospitality suite I had a great conversation with American writer, Kia Corthon, who read at the opening event on October 19. Her book, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, sounds wonderful and I intend to read it soon. We ran into each other again just before she left. She was very kind to me about Kiki and had read it over dinner one night. I was thrilled. 

I spent a good few hours with Bywords selector Wesley Babcock in the sunshine at a cafe at Harbourfront. We talked writing and theatre and a bunch of other stuff for ages. My face was red from the sun all week.

Dane Swan and I - this is the third time I have met Dane and he's always friendly and also a great reader. At the Poetic New Worlds event, he sang! He has a wonderful voice. Photo credit: Michael Fraser.

I couldn't resist the allure of the great U of T Trinity College Book Sale, even though I was taking the train and really shouldn't purchase too many books. It was amazing. A room full, full, full of books, some of them only $1. i bought four collections of essays by women and resisted the photo book on Paris (heavy as a brick!) and all kinds of poetry, not to mention fairy tales, religious books...ahhhhh. Other people walked out with big boxes full of books. I looked daggers of envy at them.
 One of my most favourite parts of going to Toronto this time around was spending time with my dear friend, Ally Fleming, a talented poetesse and whimsical kindred sister. Here we are at Knife Fork Book at Dark Side Studio in Kensington Market, where I had the pleasure to meet Kirby for the first time and enjoy the readings of Nightwood authors, David Alexander, Spencer Gordon and Owain Nicholson. We had to take off our shoes! Mat Laporte had the best socks, because they were unmatched. I kept explaining to everyone that I've known Spencer since he was a little boy. Heh. Not really, but I've known him since the first days of the Puritan here in Ottawa and have been a fan of his writing from the get go. Photo Credit: Kirby

Michael Fraser, also read brilliantly at the Poetic New Worlds event and took lots of great pics, including this one which is backstage at the Studio Theatre. All readers had handlers that escorted us backstage and to our signings. It was silly and sweet and super cool to be treated this way, as if I was famous or something. The IFOA staff and volunteers were delightful and very helpful.

I spent time with fellow writer and Bywords-published poet, Paddy Scott, which was also lovely.

Here  am at my little signing table. I was surprised to discover that people not only purchased my books but also wanted me to sign them. Photo credit: Ally Fleming.

Not pictured here is the amazing reading I went to on Friday night at Grossman's Tavern where Gillian Wigmore and Ted Nolan were launching their books from Invisible Publishing. A jazz band played; the alcohol flowed and I got the chance to meet a whole bunch of people I've only talked to on social media before. Gillian and Ted were amazing. Gillian sang as part of her reading and Ted read a poem with the jazz band accompanying him. I chatted briefly with David James Brock, Stevie Howell, Sean Braune, Mat Laporte, Bardia Sinaee, Carleton Wilson, Spencer Gordon, Caroline Szpak, Leigh Nash...the list goes on. It was the kind of reading I could imagine taking place in the 70s. A who's who of great writers all drinking together and having a few laughs. I have just started Gillian's novel, Glory, and I am already enthralled.
Here's me in conversation with host Susan Cole from Now Magazine and delightful and talented writer, Chantel Acevedo, who read from her latest novel, the Living Infinite. I don't know what my hand is doing or why I have it out like that. It was a lot of fun to chat with both these women on stage. I haven't been interviewed live on stage before; although I have been the interviewer in the past. I was nervous I'd say something stupid or inappropriate. I didn't. I was just me and it was a great experience.  You can see my red steel-toed Wolverines peeking out from below the table. Photo credit: Ally Fleming
IFOA generously put us up at the Westin Harbour Castle and I enjoyed the room and the hospitality suite, getting a chance to sip Scotch with David Bouchet, chat with James, an agent from London, make small talk with American, German and French publishers and spend time with good pal and amazing writer, Stuart Ross, who also read at the Poetic New Worlds event and a Poetry and Process event.

I walked to the Toronto Music Garden and ran into a couple from Catalan who were also attending IFOA . They both had been at my reading at Poetic New Worlds and heaped praise upon me and the other writers, which was lovely. Post script, it was the writer Eduard Marquez and his wife. We talked about Lorca and Duende while walking back to the festival.
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I can't even begin to write about all the events I attended that were amazing, but one of my favourites was the Basement Revue, hosted by musician Jason Collett and writer Damian Rogers. Music (Jason, Simone Schmitd and Jennifer Castle) Comedy (Mark Billingham), Fiction (Damian Rogers), Poetry (Canisia Lubrin). It was a helluva great night. And this after I'd been at the festival since noon, done two readings as well. It was a pleasure to spend time with Nicholas Power and his fiancee, Rachael and one of their dear friends that evening. We shared zany moments over the table squash.

My final event was the International Voices party at the Penguin Books headquarters. There was lots of food and drink, a bunch of interesting people to chat with. It was pretty cool. I felt like Carrie Bradshaw in flat shoes. For a week in Toronto, I got to feel like a minor celebrity. Now I have to buckle down and get working on a new manuscript that came to me while I was listening to great readings. There are a bunch of things I'm forgetting to write about. Thank you to the International Festival of Authors for such an amazing opportunity and thank you to my publisher, Chaudiere Books, without whom Kiki would not exist. This was my final reading of Kiki. (and least that's the plan). I have other local readings still to come this year that I'll talk to you about later...Thanks dear friends for your support and enthusiasm about my adventures, literary and otherwise.

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