The Best of Word On The Street
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The Best of Word On The Street

Photo by Jen Cooper.
Once a year, on the last Sunday of September, Queen’s Park is transformed into a haven for lovers of the written word. Not only is Word On The Street a great chance to find both book and magazine publishers offering deep discounts and freebies, but readers also get a chance to meet their favourite scribes in person. With more than 250 exhibits, about 250 of Canada’s top authors, poets, storytellers, and presenters, and close to 200 readings, performances, and workshops, Toronto’s edition of Word On The Street can be a daunting day to navigate. That’s why Torontoist has put together a handy list of highlights so you can use your time wisely on September 28 to catch the best of the best and, of course, a deal or two.

Launch Pop-up Map

The Bestseller’s Stage, located on the east side of Queen’s Park, is exactly what it sounds like. Here you’ll catch inspiring A-list writers like Andrew Pyper (11:45 a.m.) and Austin Clarke (2 p.m.) reading from their latest releases. The author signing tents throughout the park also mean you can grab some face time with the person that penned the book on your bedside table. If you’re looking for something a little different than the top ten, head on over to the Comic and Graphic Novels Tent a few tents over to take in Ray Fawkes and Cameron Stewart discussing their fabulous futuristic girl-rock graphic novel The Apocalipstix (1:30 p.m.), or hang out with indie-hero Jim Munroe and celebrated cartoonist Ramón Pérez for “10 Tips to Get Your Writing Out There.”
Lovers of a literary look at Toronto will want to spend a bulk of their day at the Diaspora Dialogues Tent in the centre of the park. The organization, which strives to support the creation and presentation of new fiction, poetry, and drama about our city, has managed to schedule what is perhaps the most interesting roster of the day. Noteworthy writers each take on a T.O. neighbourhood for description and discussion. The day starts with Katherine Govier and others tackling The Annex and Downtown (11 a.m.), writers such as Ken Babstock take on “The Far East” at 2 p.m., and the day ends with “Aren’t We Awful?” a fantastic Toronto Noir showcase featuring indie stars RM Vaughan, Emily Schultz, Heather Birrell, Sean Dixon, and Nathaniel G. Moore.
If queer is what you’re there for, head next door to the Proud Voices Tent to check out the always entertaining R.M. Vaughan reading from his latest poetry release, Troubled (12:30 p.m.), or catch Derek McCormack reading from his already well-received brand new novella The Show That Smells (4:30 p.m.) There’s also a little something for grown-ups at the Ideaspace Young Adult Marquee. At 1 p.m. you can watch Mariko Tamaki make an appearance with her critically acclaimed graphic novel Skim, while YA author and self-proclaimed saucy tart Kristyn Dunnion appears with Big Big Sky at 1:30 p.m.
If that weren’t enough, there are plenty of musical acts to enjoy throughout the day at the Eye Weekly Music Stage, hosted by writer Brian Joseph Davis. You can start off with a little Forest City Lovers at 11:45 a.m. and end the perfect day right with Ohbijou at 5:15 p.m.
Don’t forget the all-day deals. There will be slashed prices and freebies with purchase at the Broken Pencil Magazine table, and toonie back issues for sale at both Taddle Creek and Shameless Magazine. Coach House Books will be offering most of their stock tax-free and for 25% off, while both House of Anansi and Groundwood Books are offering backlist titles for a mere $5 or $10. Like many publishers, Anansi’s going green this year, forgoing plastic bags and encouraging book buyers to visit the Groundwood Books booth to receive a free tote with purchase. If you don’t plan to take advantage of the freebie, make sure you bring your own to cart around all of your finds.
Toronto’s Word On The Street runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Queen’s Park on September 28. Check out their website for a comprehensive events listing, author bios, contests, and more.