Six Things You May Have Missed at Word on the Street
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Six Things You May Have Missed at Word on the Street

Toronto's annual celebration of the written word may be done for the year, but it's not too late to discover some of its hidden gems.

Another Word on the Street festival has come and gone, and its predictably delightful array of book and magazine publishers, compelling presentations, and roasted corn trucks are once again behind us. In case, for some reason, you opted to stay indoors on a perfectly summery Sunday afternoon or, gasp!, spent your day elsewhere, Torontoist was there in full force to single out the setups that may have been missed by even those in attendance: the small, the quirky, and the unexpected.

1 Who said no one buys poetry anymore? At the Toronto Poetry Vendors‘ table, you could purchase individual poems printed on candy-coloured paper, penned by local scribes (including Nathaniel G. Moore, Jeff Latosik, and Souvankham Thammavongsa, among others) from a tabletop vending machine at $2 a pop, and—according to poet and co-mom to the TPV project, Carey Toane—the lit-filled box got no shortage of love during Sunday’s festivities. Good thing permanent TPV machines can be found at Type Books on Queen Street West, Ezra’s Pound on Dupont, and at Shopgirls gallery boutique in Parkdale.

2 Do e-readers give you the willies? Does the heady aroma of a ripened dustjacket make you go “hmmm” a la C+C Music Factory? The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (or CBBAG, which members will remind you is meant to be pronounced “cabbage”) seeks to preserve the book as artifact against the threat of technological obsolescence, giving a space to bookbinders, calligraphers, letterpress printers, and anyone else who can’t visit a library without getting just a wee bit intoxicated by all that glorious paper. To those not yet initiated, let it be known that CBBAG offers workshops.

3 The force behind more than 400 ethnic newspapers and magazines published across the country, the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, has been aggressively serving multicultural and multilingual news and views since 1958. At WOTS, the organization offered a few dozen of its different publications, which serve more than 12 million Canadians from around the world. Next time you pass an “ethnic” newspaper during your next dried-goods grocery haul, know that it’s coming from a long-established place.

4 The pet project of poet Jay MillAr and writer Jenny Sampirisi, BookThug, is the evolution of the Boondoggle chapbook series kicked off my MillAr in 1992. This expertly named champion of experimental literature deals in chapbooks and trade books that seek to push the boundaries of narrative and form. Thuggish, indeed.

5 ChiZine Publications is an indie press that manages, somehow, to put out consistently innovative genre fiction while also paying its authors professional rates. Headed by co-publishers Sandra Kasturi, Brett Alexander Savory, and a devoted team of editors, designers, and peddlers, ChiZine is where you go for titles like The Fecund’s Melancholy Daughter—dark, unexpected, and maybe just a tad twisty.

6 You may have missed Polkaroo. We did not. (See photo at top.)