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Travel diary: IFOA hits China’s Bookworm International Literary Festival

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Canadian authors Dionne Brand, Michael Crummey, Andy McGuire, and Anakana Schofield joined IFOA director Geoffrey Taylor and associate director Christine Saratsiotis on a trek to Beijing, China, to participate in the Bookworm International Literary Festival, which ran from March 17–24.

So what is it like to travel across the world for a literary festival? The group took part in a variety of events and panels showcasing Canadian literature and writing alongside other international authors. They visited the Fangsuo Commune bookstore, the Beijing Foreign Studies University, and the Bookworm bookseller locations in Beijing and Chengdu, and still managed to take in a few sights.

See photos of their week, courtesy of McGuire, who kept a travel diary for Q&Q:

Julie Hirschfeld, Anakana Schofield, Dionne Brand, Andy McGuire, and Michael Crummey speaking via their interpreter, Paige (far left) at Canadian Writers in Conversation at the Fangsuo Commune, Chengdu.

New York Times journalist Julie Davis Hirschfeld, Schofield, Dionne Brand, Andy McGuire, and Michael Crummey speaking via their interpreter at the Canadian Writers in Conversation panel at the Fangsuo Commune in Chengdu.

Beijing Bookworm coordinator Anthony Tao introduces a panel - Kerryn Leitch, Michael Crummey, Anna Smaill, and Mariko Nagai - on memory and place in literature.

Beijing Bookworm coordinator Anthony Tao introduces a panel on memory and place in literature featuring Beijing Technology and Business University teacher and Bookworm Book Club moderator Kerryn Leitch, Michael Crummey, New Zealand poet and novelist Anna Smaill, and English-language Japanese writer Mariko Nagai.

Ricky Mugford, Geoffrey Taylor, Dionne Brand, Michael Crummey, Andy McGuire, and Christine Saratsiotis look over The Forbidden City from a temple at Jingshan Park.

We had a spectacular view of the Forbidden City from the temple at Jingshan Park. Left to right: Ricky Mugford, Geoffrey Taylor, Dionne Brand, Michael Crummey, Andy McGuire, and Christine Saratsiotis.

Authors Sabrina Zou, Christine Saratsiotis, Anna Smaill, Andy McGuire, and Michael Crummey partake in a Gala dinner with celebrity chef Ken Hom at the Green T. House in Beijing.

Serenaded by exotic birds before a gala dinner with celebrity chef Ken Hom at Green T. House in Beijing. Left to right: Bookworm International Literary Festival logistics coordinator Sabrina Zou, Christine Saratsiotis, Anna Smaill, Andy McGuire, and Michael Crummey.

Dionne Brand at the Sichuan Muesum, Chengdu.

Dionne Brand at the Sichuan Muesum in Chengdu.

Lunch in Chengdu.

Lunch in Chengdu.

Moderator Julie Hirschfeld with authors Anakana Schofield, Andy McGuire, Dionne Brand, and Michael Crummey at Voices of Canada at The Bookworm in Chengdu.

Moderator Julie Hirschfeld with Anakana Schofield, Andy McGuire, Dionne Brand, and Michael Crummey at the Voices of Canada panel at the Bookworm in Chengdu.

Andy McGuire presents his collection, Country Club, at the Beijing Foreign Studies University.

Andy McGuire presents his collection, Country Club, at the Beijing Foreign Studies University.

Andy McGuire, Ricky Mugford, Geoffrey Taylor, Dionne Brand. Front: Anakana Schofield, Michael Crummey, and Christine Saratsiotis atop the Great Wall of China.

Atop the Great Wall of China. Left to right: Andy McGuire, Ricky Mugford, Geoffrey Taylor, and Dionne Brand. Front: Anakana Schofield, Michael Crummey, and Christine Saratsiotis.

Door of the Canada Club

Canada Club, located inside the Canadian Embassy in Beijing.

temple from balcony of pearl market

The view from a balcony at the Beijing pearl market.

Great Wall slide (Mar 20)

YOTDTGWO (You only toboggan down The Great Wall once).