The inaugural program for the Pages Festival + Conference: Unbound in Toronto is now online. The festival runs March 13–15 at the Randolph Theatre, with conference events scheduled at the Tranzac Club.
Marc Glassman, artistic director of This Is Not a Reading Series and former owner of Pages Books & Magazines, founded the festival to explore the “evolving word” in the digital age.
The festival opens March 13 with the launch of the family memoir Davy the Punk (The Porcupine’s Quill) by celebrated folksinger Bob Bossin who will appear in conversation with former Premier Bob Rae. Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) joins Glassman in conversation the following night at the Randolph Theatre, discussing the creative process of adapting scripts for film.
Bob Stein, founder and c0-director of the Institute for the Future of the Book, will open the conference March 14 at 9 a.m. with a keynote address, followed by a panel discussion on the future of publishing in all genres.
A collaborative event on March 15 may be the festival’s main attraction: artist Charles Pachter will present a sneak preview of the interactive graphic adaptation of Susanna Moodie’s Roughing It In the Bush. The presentation includes audio readings by Margaret Atwood, prose by Carol Shields, and illustrations by graphic novelist Willow Dawson, alongside a digital presentation by Xenophile Media’s Alex Mayhew and Conor Holler.
Tickets for these and other events can be purchased through the festival’s website.
This weekend, author Paul Quarrington will be memorialized with an ice rink in his name on Toronto’s waterfront. The Paul Quarrington Ice Rink/Splash Pad will be dedicated at a free public event at Sherbourne Common, Feb. 22 from 2 to 6 p.m.
When Quarrington passed away in 2010 from lung cancer, his loss was felt in all corners of the country’s artistic community. Celebrated for novels such as King Leary and Whale Music, Quarrington also wrote for film, television, and theatre, played in several bands, painted, and sat on the boards of PEN Canada, Fringe Toronto, and The Writers’ Union of Canada.
Quarrington’s close friend and collaborator, Dave Bidini, led the charge to honour his legacy. The Toronto musician and author spoke to Q&Q about his friendship with Quarrington and his hopes for the memorial.
How did the memorial idea evolve? I felt like there should be a signpost or place where people could go – selfishly, where I could go – to be reminded of Paul’s importance, his personality, who he was. I thought a rink or park would be a place where you could go and dream of him, really. I also think in Toronto we’re sometimes negligent when it comes to celebrating the artists who have been important to this city.
Why is the rink a fitting tribute? Paul wrote the greatest hockey book ever, King Leary. I think it’s appropriate that it is a patch of ice that his name will stand over. The great thing about the rink is that when you’re facing north, the whole city is laid out in front of you. You can skate on the rink knowing that he had a huge hand in shaping the artistic culture of our place.
What was the process moving this proposal through City Council? I talked to Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who directed me to Pam McConnell, a councillor in the east end where Paul lived. Pam is a huge supporter of the arts, privately and publicly. She’s been a friend of Neil Young’s family for decades and she knew all of Paul’s work. Random House Canada gave me copies of King Leary that I passed out to Pam’s staff.
It was great how easy it was, and I think that was a testament to Paul. He was so loved, he made such a deep connection with so many people in this city, that it was a no-brainer. You expect something different, because you hear all the horrors of city council and having to ram things through. But politically it wasn’t an issue at all.
What is Paul’s legacy in Toronto’s arts community? I know there are people from across Canada who, when they come to Toronto, will skate on that rink because it’s a place where people who miss Paul can go and remember him.
He was so encouraging and supportive of young writers like myself, Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, David Bezmozgis, the list goes on. With Paul, you met him and realized that you could be a regular person and an artist. You didn’t have to submit to a kind of rare sensibility. Through him you realized it was easy to fit in doing what you loved to do, because he was so disarming and unpretentious and humble and supportive and kind. He pointed to a way that you could be that we didn’t really know existed before.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
On Feb. 6, more than 500 guests and authors mingled at the Book Lover’s Ball, held at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York.
The popular annual gala, which featured a silent auction and literary-inspired entertainment, raised funds in support of the Toronto Library Foundation.
Click on the thumbnails to see who attended.
Small Print Toronto hosted a sold-out literary bash for the seven and under set last Saturday. The nonprofit literacy organization’s sixth annual Totsapalooza featured U.K. author and children’s laureate Julia Donaldson and coincided with the 15th anniversary of the author’s bestselling picture book, The Gruffalo (illustrated by Axel Scheffler).
Hosted by author and CBC broadcaster Kevin Sylvester, the event included a reading by Donaldson, crafting, dancing, and a performance by Toronto indie pop quartet The Bicycles with the Movement Lab.
Click on the thumbnails below to browse photos by Sarah Jordan.
Four Canadian novelists will present a series of international documentaries this winter, thanks to a new partnership between PEN Canada and Hot Docs. Beginning in February, authors Vincent Lam, Camilla Gibb, Miriam Toews, and Linwood Barclay will each present a documentary of their choice at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto, followed by a Q&A with the audience.
PEN Canada executive director Tasleem Thawar tells Q&Q that authors were asked to select films that related to freedom of expression or their creative process. “We tried to pick for authors who wrote different kinds of books with different audiences who we thought might pick films that were really different from one another,” she says. “They took a lot of time to pick something that they could talk about and something that really resonated with them. There was a lot of back and forth.”
The series will kick off on Feb. 10 with Vincent Lam’s selection, Hatsumi, produced and directed by Chris Hope. The film, released in 2012, traces the experiences of the director’s grandmother through the Japanese internment in Canada during the Second World War.
Camilla Gibb’s selection, which took over two months to source and secure rights for, is the 1973 documentary The Unknown Famine. Directed by U.K. journalist Jonathan Dimbleby, the film features one of the earliest reports on the Ethiopian famine in the 1970s.
Miriam Toews’ selection, Marwencol, is the debut feature by American director Jeff Malmberg. The 2010 film explores the life and work of artist Mark Hogancamp, who used art to rehabilitate himself following a brutal attack that left him brain damaged. Toews will present the documentary on March 24.
The last film in the series, to be presented by Linwood Barclay on April 14, is the 2010 documentary Sons of Perdition, which follows three teenage boys exiled from a polygamist community.
Further information is available at the PEN Canada website.
The upcoming London Book Fair, slated to take place mid-April, will be hosted at the West London venue Earls Court for the last time. Event operators Reed Exhibitions confirmed this week that the 2015 fair will take place at the nearby Olympia convention centre.
With the Earls Court property set to be demolished to make way for residential development, event organizers were forced to look for a new home for the fair. Earlier this year it was suggested that the event could be moved to its 2006 location, Excel, but past patrons complained that the Docklands neighbourhood was difficult to get to and lacked the range of dining options that exist around Earls Court. The new venue, however, is in the same vicinity as Earls Court.
The decision to relocate the fair to Olympia was based on extensive consultation with industry representatives in the U.K. and abroad. In a press release, London Book Fair director Jack Thomas says, “We have listened long and hard to those who participate in The London Book Fair and, while it is sad that Earls Court is unlikely to form part of the London exhibition venue mix, we fully appreciate the great affection the industry has for West London and believe that moving to Olympia is currently the right move for the publishing industry.”
More than 400 members of Toronto’s cultural and business communities came together on Nov. 14 for The Writers’ Trust of Canada’s* black-tie gala, raising $220,000 toward the organization’s programs and awards.
Click on the thumbnails to see photos of the evening.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the gala was for the Writers’ Union of Canada.
The fourth annual Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair was held at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Baillie Court last weekend. It was the fair’s first year at the new venue, having relocated from the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
The event brought together collectors and booksellers specializing in old and rare books, manuscripts, maps, and other historic literary artifacts.
Lucius Books owner James Hallgate travelled from from York, U.K. to showcase and sell some of his collection, which includes a £12,750 first edition of a Machiavelli work printed in 1595. Stopping by the Toronto fair before another book show in Boston, he said that many collectors are drawn to rare copies of books they encountered earlier in life.
“A lot of it is nostalgia, and to own a first edition is as close to the way the author wanted it as possible,” he said. “And now, even more so because of electronic books, books are more objects than anything.”
Jennifer Grainger, cataloguer at Attic Books in London, Ontario, agreed that the appeal of older editions lies in their physicality.
“They’re beautiful objects, like works of art,” she said. “People like to have original copies of things, like a copy of Dickens that came out in his own lifetime; a first edition instead of just a cheap paperback copy from a modern bookstore.”
Another local vendor, Hugh Anson-Cartwright, who has been in the business for over 40 years, says, “I think there will always be people that love books. There’s a wide range of appeal: text, illustration, bindings, all sorts of things.” He later quoted author Barbara Tuchman, saying that books are “humanity in print.”
Click on the thumbnails below to see photos from the fair.
The 26th annual Vancouver Writers Fest wrapped up on Oct. 27. Held at various venues on the city’s Granville Island, the six-day event featured panels and discussions with more than 100 authors, including Margaret Atwood, Jo Nesbø, Joseph Boyden, and recent Man Booker winner, Eleanor Catton.
Click on the thumbnails below to see pictures of the festival.
Eat It, a new literary anthology launching Tuesday, takes an unconventional approach to exploring women’s relationship to sex and food.
Conceived and edited by Toronto journalists Nicole Baute and Brianna Goldberg, the book spans genres including fiction, essays, poetry, comedy, and “literary recipes.” The editors relied on both an open submission call and invitations to attract contributors such as Denise Balkissoon, Amy Jones, Stacey May Fowles, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, and Sarah Selecky.
“We really wanted to be playful with it and be open to any story format that people wanted to try as a forum for experimentation,” says Baute.
Interest in the project was rapid and enthusiastic. The first day the call for submissions appeared on social media, the Eat It website received 1,000 page views. According to Goldberg, Vancouver artist Lori Weidenhammer submitted her story “I Could Have Been a Dairy Queen” (about the irony of her inability to breastfeed after growing up on a dairy farm) after overhearing a stranger in a café discussing the anthology.
Eat It will be distributed as a standalone volume of the Toronto literary humour journal The Feathertale Review. According to a note on the anthology’s website, Feathertale is hoping to correct a gender imbalance in their publication by producing an “all-women’s issue,” although Goldberg is quick to point out that the book is not targetted just at female readers.
Tomorrow’s launch takes place at the Gladstone Hotel as part of the This Is Not A Reading Series. The event, which kicks off at 8 p.m., features a variety show with Eat It contributors such as author Jessica Westhead, comic Sara Hennessey, and playwright Jessica Moss. Tickets are $5 or free with book purchase ($15).