September 16-26, 2021
A. F. Moritz
Adrian De Leon
Antonio Michael Downing
Bashar Lulu Jabbour
Carol Harvey Steski
Carol Leigh Wehking
Darrel J. McLeod
David A. Robertson
Dorothy Ellen Palmer
Eddy Boudel Tan
John RR Smith
Kerry C. Byrne
Kobo Writing Life
Lauren B. Davis
Linda Rui Feng
Natalie Zina Walschots
Ontario Science Centre
Rebecca Silver Slayter
Richard Van Camp
Ryan B. Patrick
S. Bear Bergman
Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang
Past & Future Events
Only Past Events
Only Future Events
Alicia Elliott is a Mohawk writer living in Brantford, Ontario. She has written for The Globe and Mail, CBC, Hazlitt and many others. She’s had essays nominated for National Magazine Awards for three straight years, winning Gold in 2017, and her short fiction was selected for Best American Short Stories 2018, Best Canadian Stories 2018, and Journey Prize Stories 30. She was chosen by Tanya Talaga as the 2018 recipient of the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award. Her first book, A Mind Spread Out On The Ground, is a national bestseller.
Hana Shafi (a.k.a. Frizz Kid) is a writer and artist. Her visual art and writing frequently explores themes such as feminism, body politics, racism, and pop culture. Her first book, It Begins with the Body, was listed by CBC as one of the Best Poetry Books of 2018. A graduate of Ryerson University’s Journalism Program, she has published articles in The Walrus, Hazlitt, THIS Magazine, and Torontoist, and has been featured on Buzzfeed, CBC, and in Flare, Shameless, and The New York Times. Known on Instagram for her weekly affirmation series, Shafi is the recipient of the 2017 Women Who Inspire Award, from the Canadian Council for Muslim Women. Born in Dubai, Shafi immigrated with her family to Mississauga, Ontario, in 1996. She lives and works in Toronto.
S. Bear Bergman is a writer, storyteller, activist, and the founder and publisher of the book press Flamingo Rampant, which makes feminist, culturally diverse children’s picture books about LGBT2Q+ kids and families. He writes creative non-fiction for grown-ups, fiction for children, resolutely factual features for various publications, and the advice column “Asking Bear.” His books include The Nearest Exit May Be Behind Us and Blood, Marriage, Wine & Glitter, and he was the co-editor along with Kate Bornstein of Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation.
Between love, loneliness, justice, body image, and other struggles inherent in being human, there are a lot of things where we tend to cry “why did no one
Between love, loneliness, justice, body image, and other struggles inherent in being human, there are a lot of things where we tend to cry “why did no one teach me how to do this?” Managing our mental health, knowing how to apologize, setting ourselves free of social expectations: none of these topics were covered in school. Join us as we pick the brains of several authors who are trying to teach themselves—and their readers—about the human condition through their work.
Special Topics in Being a Human
Arsenal Pulp Press
As an author, educator, and public speaker, S. Bear Bergman has documented his experience as, among other things, a trans parent,with wit and aplomb. He also writes the advice column “Asking Bear,” in which he answers crucial questions about how best to make our collective way through the world. Featuring disarming illustrations by Saul Freedman-Lawson, Special Topics in Being a Human elaborates on askingbear.com’s premise: a gentle, witty, and insightful book of practical advice for the modern age. It offers Dad advice and Jewish bubbe wisdom, all filtered through a queer lens, to help you navigate some of the complexities of life—from how to make big decisions or make a good apology, to how to get someone’s new name and pronouns right as quickly as possible, to how to gracefully navigate a breakup. With warmth and candor, Special Topics in Being a Human calls out social inequities and injustices in traditional advice-giving, validates your feelings, asks a lot of questions, and tries to help you be your best possible self with kindness,compassion, and humour.
Small, Broke, and Kind of Dirty
Let’s get one thing straight: Small, Broke, and Kind of Dirty: Affirmations for the Real World is not a book of advice. You’re not going to find a step-by-step guide to meditation here, or even reminders to drink lots of water and get enough sleep. Those things are all good for you, but
that’s not what Hana Shafi wants to talk about.
Instead, Small, Broke, and Kind of Dirty—built around art from Shafi’s popular online affirmation series—focuses on our common and never-ending journey of self-discovery. It explores the ways in which the world can all too often wear us down, and reminds us to remember our worth, even when it’s hard to do so. Drawing on her experience as a millennial
woman of colour, and writing with humour and a healthy dose of irreverence, Shafi delves into body politics and pop culture, racism and feminism, friendship, and allyship. Through it all, she remains positive without being saccharine, and hopeful without being naive.
So no, this is not an advice book: it’s a call to action, one that asks us to remember that we are valid as we are—flaws and all—and to not let the bastards grind us down.
Amanda Leduc is the author of the novel THE CENTAUR’S WIFE (Random House Canada, 2021) and the non-fiction book DISFIGURED: ON FAIRY TALES, DISABILITY, AND MAKING SPACE (Coach House Books, 2020), which was shortlisted for both the 2020 Governor General’s Award in Nonfiction and the 2020 Barbellion Prize. She is also the author of an earlier novel, THE MIRACLES OF ORDINARY MEN (ECW Press, 2013). She has cerebral palsy and lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where she serves as the Communications Coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), Canada’s first festival for diverse authors and stories.
Dev (fka Mari) Ramsawakh is a disabled and non-binary multidisciplinary storyteller. They produced the podcasts Cripresentation and Sick Sad World, and edit the podcasts Leaders of Colour and Possibilities Podcast. They are also a writer, filmmaker, poet, and facilitator. They were the 2019 TVO Short Docs Contest winner and their short films have been screened at Toronto Queer Film Festival, ReelAbilities Film Festival, and North Bay Film Festival. Their work has been published on CBC, HuffPost Canada, Nuance, them, Xtra, and other publications. They also have been included in the Disability Visibility anthology edited by Alice Wong and the Rhubarb Festival 2021 publication, and their fiction has been published in Two Times Removed: An Anthology of Indo-Caribbean Fiction, Toronto 2033, and Hart House Review. They also facilitate workshops independently and with a collective called CRIP about topics such as ableism, disability justice, media, storytelling, content creation and more. You can find them on Twitter and TikTok @merkyywaters and on Instagram @merkyy_waters.
Shayda Kafai (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies in the Ethnic and Women’s Studies department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. As a queer, disabled, Mad femme of colour, she commits to practising the many ways we can reclaim our bodyminds from systems of oppression. To support this work as an educator-scholar, Shayda applies disability justice and collective care practices in the spaces she cultivates. Shayda’s writing and speaking presentations focus on intersectional body politics, particularly on how bodies are constructed and how they hold the capacity for rebellion. From discussions of madness and disability to femme politics and crip art, Shayda works to reframe our most disempowered bodyminds as vehicles of change-making. In honour of self-care and her communities, Shayda is also an art maker and co-founder of CripFemmeCrafts with her wife, Amy. They make art that empowers all our bodyminds, particularly centering the magic and joy-making that comes from the wisdom and beauty of disabled, Fat bodyminds of colour.
Join us for a fascinating conversation with Shayda Kafai and Amanda Leduc as they explore disability justice and activism through their works Crip Kinship and The Centaur’s Wife.
Join us for a fascinating conversation with Shayda Kafai and Amanda Leduc as they explore disability justice and activism through their works Crip Kinship and The Centaur’s Wife. Kafai explores the art activism of Sins Invalid, a San Francisco Bay Area-based performance project, and its radical imaginings of what disabled, queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming bodyminds of colour can do. Leduc’s new novel is woven with fairy tales of her own devising and replete with both catastrophe and magic, is a vision of what happens when we ignore the natural world and the darker parts of our own natures.
Moderated by Dev Ramsawakh. Presented by Diaspora Dialogues.
Arsenal Pulp Press
Crip Kinship explores the art activism of Sins Invalid, a San Francisco Bay Area-based performance project, and its radical imaginings of what disabled, queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming bodyminds of colour can do: how they can rewrite oppression, and how they can gift us with transformational lessons for our collective survival.Grounded in the disability justice framework, Crip Kinship investigates the revolutionary survival teachings that disabled, queer of colour community offers to all our bodyminds. From their focus on crip beauty and sexuality to manifesting digital kinship networks and crip-centric liberated zones, Sins Invalid empowers and moves us toward generating our collective liberation from our bodyminds outward.
The Centaur’s Wife
Knopf Random Vintage Canada
Heather is sleeping peacefully after the birth of her twin daughters when the sound of the world ending jolts her awake. Stumbling outside with her babies and her new husband, Brendan, she finds that their city has been destroyed by falling meteors and that her little family are among only a few who survived.
But the mountain that looms over the city is still green–somehow it has been spared the destruction that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. Heather is one of the few who know the mountain, a place city-dwellers have always been forbidden to go. Her dad took her up the mountain when she was a child on a misguided quest to heal her legs, damaged at birth. The tragedy that resulted has shaped her life, bringing her both great sorrow and an undying connection to the deep magic of the mountain, made real by the beings she and her dad encountered that day: Estajfan, a centaur born of sorrow and of an ancient, impossible love, and his two siblings, marooned between the magical and the human world. Even as those in the city around her–led by Tasha, a charismatic doctor who fled to the city from the coast with her wife and other refugees–struggle to keep everyone alive, Heather constantly looks to the mountain, drawn by love, by fear, by the desire for rescue. She is torn in two by her awareness of what unleashed the meteor shower and what is coming for the few survivors, once the green and living earth makes a final reckoning of the usefulness of human life and finds it wanting.
Diaspora Dialogues (DD) supports emerging voices from across Canada to turn their craft into a career through mentorship, professional development and opportunities to publish and present their work. Everything we do as an organization is made possible through the passion and commitment of our team, the board members, and our allies across the country.
Chuqiao Yang has been the recipient of two Western Magazine Awards (2011) and a finalist for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers (2015). Her first chapbook, Reunions in the Year of the Sheep won the bpNicholChapbook Award (baseline press, 2018).
Irfan Ali is a writer and educator from Toronto. His first collection Accretion (Brick Books) was shortlisted for the 2021 Trillium Book Award for Poetry. He was a past finalist for the 2015 Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Ali’s words have appeared in The Puritan, Trampoline Hall, and filling Station.
Jody Chan (they/them) is an artist, organizer, and therapist based in Toronto. They are the author of haunt (Damaged Goods Press), all our futures (PANK), and sick, winner of the 2018 St. Lawrence Book Award and 2021 Trillium Award for Poetry. They are also a member of the Switch Collective, and a Performing Member of Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers.
Celebrating the finalists for the 2021 Trillium Book Award for Poetry, honouring new and emerging Ontario poets, awarded by Ontario Creates. Moderated by Chuqiao
Celebrating the finalists for the 2021 Trillium Book Award for Poetry, honouring new and emerging Ontario poets, awarded by Ontario Creates.
Moderated by Chuqiao Yang.
The story of Layla and Majnun, made immortal by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi in the 12th century, has been retold thousands of times, in thousands of different ways, throughout literature. Against the backdrop of this story, to the soundtrack of modern hip-hop, and amid the struggle of an immigrant family to instill an old faith under new conditions, Irfan Ali’s Accretion hurtles toward an unsustainable, “greater madness.” Majnun, one of the foundational literary characters who haunt Accretion, is also an Arabic epithet for “possessed.” In this tradition, Ali has written a book from the places where the self is no longer the self; places where, in order not to shut down forever, the debris must be cleared, and the soul must inch toward love and hope, “on memory’s dusty beams.”
Accretion is written in a contemporary lyricism that honours ancient poetic traditions. It is a familiar story, imbued with a particularity and honesty that only Irfan Ali could bring to the table.
Black Lawrence Press
Jody Chan writes, “have you ever found your specific wounds curled up in a song / written by someone else?” This striking debut—poems of history, of beauty, of violence, of grief—unearths tenderness. In sick, Jody Chan examines loss through brilliant and stunning lyric, each poem urgent with gentle ferocity.
Brandon Wint is an Ontario-born poet and spoken word artist who uses poetry to attend to the joy and devastation and inequity associated with this era of human and ecological history. For more than a decade, Brandon has been a sought-after touring performer, and has presented his work in the United States, Australia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Jamaica. His poems and essays have been published in national anthologies, including The Great Black North: Contemporary African-Canadian Poetry (Frontenac House, 2013) and Black Writers Matter (University of Regina Press, 2019). Divine Animal (Write Bloody North, 2020) is his debut book of poetry.
Carol Harvey Steski’s debut poetry collection is rump + flank (NeWest Press, 2021). Her poems have appeared in Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology, CAROUSEL, FreeFall, untethered, Room, Prairie Fire and CV2. She won FreeFall’s 2019 annual poetry contest and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Toronto.
Tenille K. Campbell is a Dene/Métis author and photographer from English River First Nation in Northern Saskatchewan. She completed her MFA in creative writing at UBC and is currently working on a doctoral degree in English literature at the University of Saskatchewan, studying Indigenous women’s erotica within Canadian literature. Her debut poetry collection, #IndianLovePoems (Signature Editions), garnered positive attention across the country, hitting the awards lists in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as the inaugural Indigenous Voices Award. Campbell is also the force behind sweetmoon photography, which specializes in photographing Indigenous people throughout Canada, often found hanging with large wedding parties in the north or sitting front row at awards shows, capturing NDN joy in its many forms. Finally, she is the co-creator and a blogger at tea&bannock, an online collective for Indigenous women photographers and artists to share their stories. Cultivating a life celebrating art and laughter, Campbell can always be found in coffee shops with a camera on hand and a story to share. She resides in Saskatoon, SK.
Therese Estacion is part of the Visayan diaspora community. She is an elementary school teacher and is studying to be a psychotherapist. Therese is also a bilateral below knee and partial hands amputee, and identifies as a disabled person/person with a disability. Therese lives in Tkaronto. Her poems have been published in CV2 and PANK Magazine, and were shortlisted for the 2021 Marina Nemat Award. Her first collection of poems, Phantompains, was published by Book*Hug in Spring 2021.
Medicine can explore what a body does, but art explores how it feels to be in one. How does poetry help organize the confusion of embodiment? How does
Medicine can explore what a body does, but art explores how it feels to be in one. How does poetry help organize the confusion of embodiment? How does our relationship to our bodies change when we begin to write about them? When we feel that our bodies are failing us, how can poetry acknowledge—or even repair—that distrust?
Moderated by Brandon Wint, Guest Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine, Fall 2021.
Therese Estacion survived a rare infection that nearly killed her, but not without losing both her legs below the knees, several fingers, and reproductive organs. Phantompains is a visceral, imaginative collection exploring disability, grief and life by interweaving stark memories with magic surrealism.
Taking inspiration from Filipino horror and folk tales, Estacion incorporates some Visayan language into her work, telling stories of mermen, gnomes and ogres that haunt childhood stories of the Philippines and, then, imaginings in her hospital room, where she spent months after her operations, recovering.
There is a dreamlike quality to these pieces, rivaled by depictions of pain, of amputation, of hysterectomy, of disability, and the realization of catastrophic change.
nedi nezu (Good Medicine)
Arsenal Pulp Press
nedi nezu (Good Medicine) explores the beautiful space that being a sensual Indigenous woman creates – not only as a partner, a fantasy, a heartbreak waiting to happen but also as an auntie, a role model, a voice that connects to others walking the same path. From the online hookup world of DMs, double taps, and secret texts to earth-shakingly erotic encounters under the northern stars to the ever-complicated relationship Indigenous women have with mainstream society, this poetry collection doesn’t shy away from depicting the gorgeous diversity in decolonized desire. Instead, Campbell creates the most intimate of spaces, where the tea is hot and a seat is waiting, surrounded by the tantalizing laughter of aunties telling stories.
rump + flank
Carol Harvey Steski’s tenacious and unapologetic debut, rump + flank, explores the body in nature’s many incarnations: human, animal, plant, microbe, even chemical. The result is a fantastical poetic work that sheds light on what bodies—especially female ones—endure, probing the full range of experiences from pleasure and hope to deep loss and trauma.
These poems are piercingly humorous, sexy, and peppered with startling absurdities, but are grounded by an undercurrent of nostalgia (and a soupçon of feminist rage): mercury reproduces like funhouse mirrors, oysters are whole notes dropped into eternal song, cancer is a surly character taking and discarding lovers, a domestic chore turns dark as a mother channels her inner Lady Macbeth. Lush imagery melds with organic rhythms to spawn a visceral experience, a tendon-and-muscle-driven engine that readers can feel racing within their own bodies.
Zoe Whittall is the author of The Spectacular and three previous novels: the Giller-shortlisted The Best Kind of People, Lambda-winning Holding Still for as Long as Possible, and debut Bottle Rocket Hearts. She has published three collections of poetry and is also a Canadian Screen Award-winning TV and film writer, with credits on the Baroness Von Sketch Show, Schitt’s Creek, Degrassi, and others. She lives in Toronto.
A featured conversation with award-winning author Zoe Whittall about her new novel, The Spectacular. Books featured: The Spectacular by Zoe Whittall (
A featured conversation with award-winning author Zoe Whittall about her new novel, The Spectacular.
It’s taboo to regret motherhood. But what would happen if you did? Shifting perspectives and time periods, The Spectacular is a multi-generational story exploring sexuality, gender and the weight of reproductive freedoms. By turns sharp and provocative, Zoe Whittall captures three generations of very different women who struggle to build an authentic life in the absence of traditional familial and marital structures. Definitions of family, romance, gender and love will radically change as they seek out lives that are nothing less than spectacular.
Bevann Fox is a member of Pasqua Nation, originally from Piapot Nation, Treaty 4 Territory. In 2012 she received her Bachelor of Arts in Arts and Culture and in 2018 her Master in Business Administration, Leadership from the University of Regina. In 2014 she was honoured with the YWCA Women of Distinction Award—Arts, Culture and Heritage. She received the Indigenous Voice Award 2021- Creative Non-Fiction Life Writing for Genocidal Love. Genocidal Love was also honoured with a Saskatchewan Book Award 2021.
Darrel J. McLeod is Nehiyaw (Cree) from Treaty 8 territory. Darrel’s first memoir, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age (Douglas & McIntyre), won the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award and was a finalist for the RBC Charles Taylor Prize. The sequel, Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, was released in March 2021. Darrel holds degrees in French literature and education from UBC. Darrel has been a teacher, School Principal in Yekooche First Nation, Director of a provincial curriculum center, Executive Director of Education and International Affairs at the Assembly of First Nations, and Chief Negotiator for the Government of Canada. Darrel is also a jazz singer. He lives in Sooke, BC and spends winters in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
DAVID A. ROBERTSON is the author of When We Were Alone (2017 Governor General’s Literary Award), The Barren Grounds (2020 Governor General’s Literary Award finalist), and Back Water, winner of the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction and the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award. He is a member of Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.
jaye simpson is an Oji-Cree Saulteaux Indigiqueer writer and activist from the Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, with Scottish and French settler ancestry. Their poems and essays are published in Poetry Is Dead, THIS Magazine, PRISM international, SAD Magazine, GUTS Magazine, Room, Today’s Parent, Grain, and SubTerrain. simpson is also published in Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry, as well as Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction. simpson is currently resisting, ruminating and residing on xwməθkwəyˇəm (Musqueam), səlˇilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-waututh), and skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations territories, colonially known as Vancouver. it was never going to be okay is their first book.
Every day, Indigenous people across Turtle Island are building a more hopeful future, through community initiatives, storytelling, and more. Join us as we hold space to grieve the
Every day, Indigenous people across Turtle Island are building a more hopeful future, through community initiatives, storytelling, and more. Join us as we hold space to grieve the losses of this year, honour the struggles and successes of those dedicated to Indigenous resistance, and discuss the role that writing has in decolonizing our world: how do books and storytelling contribute to healing? How do we celebrate and protect Indigenous storytellers? How have current events changed the way we write?
The son of a Cree father and a white mother, David A. Robertson grew up with virtually no awareness of his Indigenous roots. His father, Dulas—or Don, as he became known—lived on the trapline in the bush in Manitoba, only to be transplanted permanently to a house on the reserve, where he couldn’t speak his language, Swampy Cree, in school with his friends unless in secret. David’s mother, Beverly, grew up in a small Manitoba town that had no Indigenous people until Don arrived as the new United Church minister. They married and had three sons, whom they raised unconnected to their Indigenous history.
David grew up without his father’s teachings or any knowledge of his early experiences. All he had was “blood memory”: the pieces of his identity ingrained in the fabric of his DNA, pieces that he has spent a lifetime putting together. It has been the journey of a young man becoming closer to who he is, who his father is and who they are together, culminating in a trip back to the trapline to reclaim their connection to the land.
it was never going to be okay
it was never going to be okay is a collection of poetry and prose exploring the intimacies of understanding intergenerational trauma, Indigeneity and queerness, while addressing urban Indigenous diaspora and breaking down the limitations of sexual understanding as a trans woman. As a way to move from the linear timeline of healing and coming to terms with how trauma does not exist in subsequent happenings, it was never going to be okay tries to break down years of silence in simpson’s debut collection of poetry:
i am five
my sisters are saying boy
i do not know what the word means but—
i am bruised into knowing it: the blunt b,
the hollowness of the o, the blade of y
Genocidal Love: A Life After Residential School
University of Regina Press
Genocidal Love delves into the long-term effects of childhood trauma on those who attended residential school and demonstrates the power of story to help in recovery and healing
Presenting herself as “Myrtle,” Bevann Fox recounts her early childhood filled with love and warmth on the First Nation reservation with her grandparents. At the age of seven she was sent to residential school, and her horrific experiences of abuse there left her without a voice, timid and nervous, never sure, never trusting, and always searching.
This is the story of Myrtle battling to recover her voice.
This is the story of her courage and resilience throughout the arduous process required to make a claim for compensation for the abuse she experienced at residential school–a process that turned out to be yet another trauma at the hands of the colonial power.
This is the story of one woman finally standing up to the painful truth of her past and moving beyond it for the sake of her children and grandchildren. In recounting her tumultuous life, Fox weaves truth and fiction together as a means of bringing clarity to the complex emotions and situations she faced as she walked her path toward healing.