This Sunday, Queen’s Park Circle will once again be positively festooned with books and magazines. Word on the Street, an annual (and national!) festival dedicated to the printed word, is back for another year.
A combination of readings, exhibits, activities and literacy advocacy, Word on the Street has become not only a celebration for lovers of books and magazines, but also an opportunity for readers to connect with their favourite authors and publishers. On the same day, sister events will be taking place in Lethbridge, Kitchener, Saskatoon, and Halifax as the festival celebrates its 24th year.
One of the main features of Word on the Street is its active and sprawling marketplace. Books and magazines, small presses and independent authors will all share their work with the public. With subscription deals, discounts, and many authors on hand to sign their work, it’s an excellent opportunity to renew subscriptions and do some serious book shopping.
The festival will once again provide 20 literacy organizations with free space to exhibit their materials, interact with festivalgoers and run their own programming. This section of the marketplace, dubbed Literacy Lane, also invites attendees to learn more about local literacy initiatives. This year, Word on the Street has announced five literacy partners, which will get some additional support from the festival: CODE, which brings literacy to developing countries; East York Learning Experience, which provides one-on-one adult literacy tutoring; First Book Canada, which provides new, free books to children; Frontier College, which works to raise literacy levels in children and adults; and Literature for Life, which tries to empower women to raise a new generation of readers.
The festival’s highlights, as usual, will undoubtedly be the readings and presentations that take place on various stages and in tents throughout the day. This year’s Bestsellers Stage will host a tribute to Canadian genre fiction with Joy Fielding, L. Marie Adeline, J. Kent Messum, and Susanna Kearsley (12:45 p.m.). At the Great Books Marquee, Stacey May Fowles will read from her new novel, Infidelity (11:45 a.m.), and later, Sarah Peters and Robert Priest will both discuss how their poetry addresses the process of emerging from darkness (3 p.m.). The Vibrant Voices of Ontario tent will showcase some local talent, including Catherine Bush (1 p.m.) and Dennis Bock (4:30 p.m.), as well as a poetry slam presented by the League of Canadian Poets (5 p.m.). There will also be tents specifically devoted to young-adult literature, workshops, and literary nonfiction. With so much going on all at once, it’s a good idea to check out Word on the Street’s online guide and plan your day accordingly.
This year’s Word on the Street will also feature a range of children’s programming. The TD Children’s Literature tent will have readings and presentations from writers, including Helaine Becker, author of Ode to Underwear (12:50 p.m.), and Andrew H. Vanderwal, author of Death of a King (4 p.m.). Meanwhile, the TVOKids stage will feature music, interactive sessions, and even more readings. There will even be a meet and greet with the elusive Polkaroo.