There's been a lot of great press leading up to the launch of Canada's first literary festival grounded in diversity. We couldn't be more proud of FOLD founder and Artistic Director, Jael Richardson. Check out her recent cover profile in Quill and Quire, an interview at Open Book, and this long feature in the Toronto Star to get a sense of the festival's road to realization. Details, tickets, and the full line up and schedule are available at: thefoldcanada.org
This weekend, Brampton will be brimming with literary talent and energy, including that of program grads Eufemia Fantetti, Megan Lambe, Melanie Mah, Aga Maksimowska, Ayelet Tsabari, and Zoe Whittall, as well as faculty member Karen Connelly. The MFA program will also have a presence at the Diverse Can Lit Writers’ Hub on Sunday, May 8 from 2–4pm.
We asked a few participants what they're involved in and what they're looking forward to...
What FOLD event(s) are you participating in?
Melanie Mah: Two panel discussions: First Books Club on Friday (for a school group at Louise Arbour Secondary), about the process of developing and publishing a first novel in Canada; and Growing Pains on Saturday, about young characters and their connections to pop culture.
Aga Maksimowska: Powerful Protagonists on Saturday, May 7, at 11 am.
Ayelett Tsabari: I'll be facilitating a creative non-fiction workshop May 7th, at 11:00am, and participating in a panel discussion titled, Faith and Fiction with Vivek Shraya, Zarqa Nawaz, and Cherie Dimaline and moderated by yet another MFA grad, Eufemia Fantetti.
Who are you most excited to meet/see at the FOLD?
MM: I'm a huge fan of Heather O'Neill, but I'm not the kind of person who tries to have conversations with people she really admires, so I'll probably just nonchalantly squeal to myself if I see her over the weekend. I might also like to meet Jon Chan Simpson. I haven't read his book yet, but I know he's from around the same part of Alberta as I am, so it'd be fun to compare knowledge and stories of being Asian in Central Alberta.
AM: Waubgeshig Rice, and all the incredible Spoken Word artists.
AT: I am excited to just be at the festival, meet new authors, and buy a ton of books. I am also looking forward to the Defying Boundaries panel with Chase Joynt, Vivek Shraya and Zoe Whittall and to the panel on Publishing (More) Diverse Canadian Stories.
Imagine the FOLD a few years down the road…what would your dream event, initiative, or author line-up look like?
MM: I think it would be fun if FOLD developed into a festival featuring some international writers. I'd still like for it to keep some kind of diasporic flavour, though. Plus, I love being read to, so lengthening the portions of events wherein writers read from their work would be ideal. With these things in mind, I'd love to see poets like Soraya Peerbaye, Ocean Vuong, and Tim Seibles at a future FOLD. To what degree they'd all jive together is beyond me, but I've found it's relatively easy to connect the dots between writers—especially writers of colour.
AM: I see satellites all over the 416 and 905, where people can go into various amazing and unexpected locations and hear writers they wouldn't otherwise have encountered: people doing bold and inventive things with words.
AT: To imagine The FOLD many years from now, I have to imagine the publishing industry many years from now. Luckily, I’m an optimist. I believe we will see more diverse voices being published, more diverse books on award lists, and more diversity in the publishing houses themselves. I guess what I really want is for all literary festivals to become festivals of literary diversity.