Our Coast-to-Coast Guide to Word on the Street 2011

Word on the Street Logo

This Sunday September 25th, Canadians coast-to-coast will take to the street for The Word on the Street National Book & Magazine Festival. This year the festival, which began in Toronto in 1990, will take place in six Candian cities: Vancouver, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto and Halifax. With its tagline, "Celebrating Reading, Advocating Literacy," WOTS is a chance for Canadians to learn about and support local literacy causes, as well as connect with some of the people behind the best books and magazines this country has to offer.

In Vancouver the festival runs for three days (September 23-25). Not to be missed is Charlotte Gill, whose book Eating Dirt has just been shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for nonfiction. Also be sure to check out poet Aisha Sasha John, Wayde Compton (whose book After Canaan is up for the Vancouver Book Award), Jen Sookfong Lee, kids writer Vikki VanSikkle, Kevin Chong, short story writer Samuel Thomas Martin, Campie author Barbara Stewart, Governor General's Award-winning writer John Vaillant, awesome poet Sachiko Murakami, and Andrew Nikiforuk,whose most recent book is Empire of the Beetle.

Angie Abdou (whose novel The Bone Cage was a 2011 Canada Reads contender) reads at the Word on the Street in Lethbridge, Other highlights are spoken-word artist Sheri D, children's storyteller Michael Kusugak, and gardening expert June Flanaghan. Learn more about other featured artists and readers on the WOTS Lethbridge Blog.

The inaugural WOTS in Saskatoon features readings by Sandra Birdsell and Yann Martell. Make sure you also see Alice Kuipers, poet Don Kerr, Amy-Jo Ehman (whose Prairie Feast won the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Awards),acclaimed writer Dave Margoshes, YA writer Bev Brenna, Governor-General's Award-winning Arthur Slade, award-winning writer Trevor Herriot, and writer/comedian Dawn Dumont.

In Kitchener, check out illustrator Laura Beingessner, Drew Hayden Taylor, Iain Reid, Trevor Cole, gardening expert Frankie Flowers, kids' spooky novel writer LM Falcone, graphic novelist Scott Chantler, and Ross Pennie.

Featured authors in Toronto this year include Guy Vanderhaeghe and Sylvia Tyson. Don't miss Kelley Armstrong, Kenneth J. Harvey, crime novelist Linwood Barclay, kids author Helaine Becker, Rabindranath Maharaj, Lesley Anne Cowan, Farzana Doctor, Kenneth Oppel, Kristen den Hartog, Cordelia Strube, Olive Senior, Frances Itani, poets Catherine Graham and Helen Guri, Katrina Best (whose Bird Eat Bird won the Commonwealth Writers Prize First Book Award), Julie Booker, Emma Ruby Sachs,Terry Fallis, Jenny Sampirisi,Sean Dixon, author/illustrator Cybele Young, Jessica Westhead, Brian Francis, Michelle Shephard (author of Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism's Grey Zone), Tony Burgess, Karen Connelly, Claudia Dey, Robert J. Sawyer, Deborah Ellis, Matthew J. Trafford, kids novelist Andrew Larsen, Anne Perdue, Evan Munday, Dorothy Ellen Palmer, Heather J. Wood, and fabulous kids author Nicola Winstanley. (Well, you might have to miss a couple of them, because otherwise that would be a very exhausting day.)

Events in Halifax will feature writers including funny ladies Lynn Coady and Jessica Grant, as well as Stephens Gerard Malone (author of Big Town: A Novel of Africville), George Elliott Clarke, Sheree Fitch, Alexander MacLeod, Heather Jessup (whose novel The Lightning Field is forthcoming from Gaspereau Press), and Scotiabank Giller Prize-winner Linden MacIntyre.

Unbelievably, this post provides just a hint of the wealth of goodness available at each Word on the Street venue this year. Do check out each city's individual website for full readings schedules, and for information about many other WOTS happenings.

September 22, 2011
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