10 Authors to Read This Black History Month (and Beyond)

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The International Festival of Authors (IFOA) is proud to take part in Harbourfront Centre’s Kuumba 2018: the longest-running Black History Month celebration in Toronto. On Wednesday, February 7 we’ll host a thought-provoking discussion about writing and authorship, and opportunities and impediments to success in the book industry. The conversation will include authors Simone DaltonRinaldo Walcott and Whitney French, and will be moderated by CBC Toronto journalist Dwight Drummond, and hosted by David Bradford.

Be sure to explore the work of our featured authors before this special event:

Simone Dalton‘s short story “Undersigned” in The Unpublished City

Rinaldo Walcott‘s Queer Returns: Essays On Multiculturalism, Diaspora and Black Studies and Black Like Who? Writing Black Canada

Whitney French‘s short story “Glass” in Black Notes: Young Black Voices before

The IFOA has had the pleasure of featuring numerous voices that honour the heritage, traditions and culture of Black communities here in Canada and across the globe. In honour of Black History Month, we’ve selected ten Black authors from the IFOA archives whose work we invite you to read this February, and all year round.

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5 Questions with Michael Mirolla

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Michael Mirolla discusses writers who’ve influenced him and why he enjoys writing short stories in our Five Questions series. Mirolla will be launching his new short story collection, The Photographer in Search of Death, on Tuesday, January 30th at 6:30 pm with fellow Exile Editions author Martha Bátiz (Plaza Requiem).

IFOA: In a recent interview with Christine Cowley, you referred to the collection as speculative fiction. Tell us a bit about how The Photographer In Search of Death fits the description?

Michael Mirolla: I see “speculative fiction” as a description that encompasses a number of fictions (magical realism, surrealism, meta-fiction, science fiction). What they have in common is the idea that they are creating worlds rather than simply inhabiting them. Thus we get “what ifs” rather than “whats”.

They are also fictions of ideas rather than simply interactions between humans. To me, the best of these are those that can combine ideas with human interactions. That is, thoughts with a heart. I hope that, in a small way, The Photographer works towards achieving that aim and thus can fit under the speculative fiction umbrella.
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Page and Flesh

By David Bradford

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The Delegate Programme is an opportunity for local authors and journalists to enrich the level of discussion at select events throughout the International Festival of Authors. David Bradford—author of Call Out and contributor to The Unpublished City—wrote about his experience as an IFOA 2017 delegate and for him, it turned the reader-writer relationship into a tangible experience.


“Every time I failed at something,” Eileen Myles told the Brigantine Room audience over Skype, “I could write.” It’s an old, truthful thing Andre Alexis and Kia Corthron seemed to recognize, one which I know well from my better nights, as well as my worst ones.

In a room full of honest-to-God readers, though, I found myself wondering how well they may have recognized Myles’s sentiment for themselves. I wondered how they might connect it with their own failures, and their own reach for that personal thing that wouldn’t let them down—how often that something might have been in the words of others. It reminded me that we writers all started, and hopefully remain first and foremost, readers. That often what we write begins with something we read—out of an impulse to look in a book for something we’ve failed to find elsewhere.

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Attention to Detail: The Art of Research

By Alexandra Grigorescu

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The Delegate Programme is an opportunity for local authors and journalists to enrich the level of discussion at select events throughout the International Festival of Authors. Alexandra Grigorescu—author of Cauchemar—wrote about her experience as an IFOA 2017 delegate and for her, a panel on research caught her attention.


I’ve been attending the International Festival of Authors for years. First, as a student enamoured with the writing life, then as a writer looking for pointers, then as a giddy participant, and now as a delegate. I played against my genre-loving type and chose a disparate set of panels: Keep It Short, The Lives of Underdogs, and Writing an Informed Story. Of these, the last one resonated most with me.

Deborah Dundas’ thoughtful questions took the audience behind the scenes of three distinct worlds and the facts that grounded their authors’ flights of fancy. What inspired me most was the way these three writers—Helen Humphreys, Claire Cameron and Roberta Rich—all began with a germ of an idea.

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Poetry and Canadiana

By Canisia Lubrin

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The Delegate Programme is an opportunity for local authors and journalists to enrich the level of discussion at select events throughout the International Festival of Authors. Canisia Lubrin—author of Voodoo Hypothesis and contributor to The Unpublished City—wrote about her experience as an IFOA 2017 delegate and for her, poetry and the Festival’s Canadian-ness left a lasting impression.


There is a sort of despairing desire that takes its cue from ecstasy. When I first participated in IFOA back in 2014, as one of what seemed like a legion of emerging writers to read in a pilot event called Brave New Word, I did not know by which vein I’d entered that storied, yet abstract character of being a writer—even momentarily, one that had been prescribed or is upheld as such, yet still a thing I regarded without that wild absolute geometry of the author.

I hardly had a moment to pause with any sufficient reverie towards the experience and its meaning. How the years churn out their consequence I will not speculate on now. What sees me as an IFOA delegate for the 38th edition of the Festival is a kind of elaborate dream, one that got wrapped into air when a certain clarity is found in that modulated appeal of event after ecstatic event, and here I was: in the throes of something now familiar, yet unexpected—something oddly warped in a strangeness prone to amnesia.

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