IFOA Director, Geoffrey Taylor, and IFOA Associate Director, Christine Saratsiotis, have been on the road a lot lately.
Many know about IFOA’s mission to present the finest contemporary international novelists, poets, playwrights, short story writers and biographers at our annual 11-day festival at the end of October (October 19 – 29, 2017). Many may also know of the Lit On Tour: IFOA Ontario provincial touring programme, which runs this year from October 3 – November 23, 2017 and will include IFOA pop-up events at 19 locations across the province.
But did you know that IFOA does international touring as well?
Since 2003, IFOA has travelled to literary festivals and book fairs around the world, presenting Canadian authors to international audiences in countries such as Australia, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, the U.K., the U.S.A. and Turkey.
On the agenda this spring was: Sweden, Ireland, New Zealand, Greece and China. IFOA partnered with Umeå Littfest (Sweden), the Cuírt International Festival of Literature (Ireland), Auckland Writers Festival (New Zealand), the Thessaloniki International Book Fair (Greece) and the Embassy of Canada to China (China) to present Canadian authors at renown international literary events and venues.
The mandate of the IFOA International Touring Programme is to highlight Canadian literature on the world stage, while also promoting connectivity between the literary festivals of the global community. Canadian authors who travel with the programme are welcomed by partners as participants in their home literary festivals or book fairs and are scheduled to participate in reading events, interviews and/or roundtable discussions with other international authors.
Through the touring programme, Canadian authors get to not only meet and connect with other authors around the world but festival directors and organizers, academics, local media personalities and members of the general public.
Poet Andy McGuire (IFOA International Touring participant: IFOA China 2016) said of his experience:
“Being a young Canadian writer, I had never performed my work outside of Canada before traveling to China with IFOA. It was a marvellous opportunity to connect with international readers, writers and academics alike, which is to say, I did a lot of quality listening. Thank goodness we have two ears and one mouth.”
Read more about Andy’s experience in China with IFOA International, if you haven’t already, in his Quill & Quire travel diary.
IFOA also partners with local educational institutions to present Canadian authors to students, often exposing students abroad to Canadian literary works for the first time. The students also get to ask the authors directly about their work, writing in Canada and for creative advice.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to visit China as part of the IFOA International Touring program. Sharing the stage in that country with a handful of Canada’s best writers, and watching the audience respond to our stories, was a fantastic experience.” -Poet, Michael Crummey (IFOA International Touring participants: IFOA China 2016)
“My absolute favorite memory was meeting the fellow guest author Ishmael Beah, a young father and former child soldier from Sierra Lione, who’s always got a smile on his face and never complains. He told me how beautiful his country is, and we talked about his friend Romeo Dallaire. I usually cringe at anything patriotic, however, Dallaire is one of the few people who make me feel extremely proud to be a Canadian; being a part of the iFOA delegation made me feel the same way.” -Graphic Novelist, Nina Bunjevac (IFOA International Touring participant: IFOA Sweden 2017)
IFOA will continue to building relationships and collaborations with international festivals, and to spotlight Canadian literary talents at literary events worldwide, through our IFOA International Touring Programme. Next up, in August, will be Macedonia (in partnership with The Struga Poetry Evenings) and then Slovenia in September (in partnership with the Vilenica International Literary Festival).
After that, anywhere is possible.
IFOA is thankful for the wonderful support of the Canada Council for the Arts for its IFOA International Touring Programme.