Well Versed

October 23 to November 1

Poetry has a literary history rich in debate and diverse in form. Within a series of unique events featuring some of the brightest Canadian and international poets, audiences will be engaged and inspired across cultures and generations.

Poet Summit
Brecken Hancock, Talya Rubin, Zachariah Wells. Host: Erin Balser

Poetry, Power and Politics – Round Table
Ellen Bass, Veronica Gaylie, Erín Moure. Moderator: Oana Avasilichioaei

In Conversation with Christian Bök – Reading/Interview
Christian Bök. Interviewer: Peter Watts

At Language’s Edge: Poetry in Translation – Round Table
Anna Aguilar-Amat, Erín Moure, Martí Sales. Author/Moderator: Oana Avasilichioaei

Brecken Hancock, Kate Hargreaves, Jeff Latosik, Andy McGuire, Talya Rubin, Zachariah Wells, Liz Worth. MC: Oana Avasilichioaei

Claire Caldwell, Ulrikka S. Gernes, Stevie Howell, Damian Rogers, Deanna Young. Host: Jessica Moore

A Celebration of Bookthug
Kate Hargreaves, Martí Sales, Mike Steeves, Jess Taylor, Liz Worth. Moderator: Emily M. Keeler

More Than You Can Stanza –  Reading
Oana Avasilichioaei, John Burnside, Claire Caldwell, Milan Jesih, Andy McGuire. MC: Evan Munday.

The Best Canadian Poetry Launch
Barry Dempster, Richard Greene, Stevie Howell, Amanda Jernigan, Jeff Latosik, A.F. Moritz, Shane Neilson, Hoa Nguyen, Alexandra Oliver, Karen Solie, Priscilla Uppal. Hosts: Jacob McArthur Mooney, Molly Peacock

In Conversation with Damian Rogers and Karen Solie – Reading/Interview
Damian Rogers, Karen Solie. Interviewer: Ken Babstock

‘Membering: A Celebration of Austin Clarke
Austin Clarke, George Elliott Clarke, Lawrence Hill, Dane Swan. MC: Garvia Bailey

Poetry Games

See you there!


Found in Translation

October 24–28

“The best way to get to know a country and its people is through its literature.”

– Geoffrey Taylor, Director, International Festival of Authors

For the sixth year, the International Festival of Authors pays tribute to the art of literary translation. This year’s IFOA celebrates the importance of making literature available in multiple languages and platforms and analyzes the effects this has on readers across the globe.

Readings, round tables and interviews comprised of authors from Catalonia, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Singapore and more round out this special and diverse programme.

Giuseppe Catozzella, Flavia Company, Mitsuyo Kakuta, Matt Lennox, Jacinto Lucas Pires, Eric Reinhardt. Host: Jessica Moore

Reportage: Turkey
Witold Szablowski. Interviewer: Bert Archer

Death in Translation – Round Table
Sara Blaedel, Marc Pastor, Teresa Solana, Ovidia Yu. Moderator: Susan Glickman.

Assaf Gavron. Interviewer: Jessica Wyman

Modern Refugee – Round Table
Giuseppe Catozzella, Assaf Gavron, Witold Szablowski. Moderator: Brendan de Caires.

Reportage: Norway
Åsne Seierstad. Interviewer: Susan G. Cole

See you there!


Five Questions with… Jeff Latosik

Jeff Latosik, author of Safely Home Pacific Western and an upcoming IFOA participant, answered our five questions!

IFOA: You wrote your latest book of poetry, Safely Home Pacific Western, in a style commonly reserved for patents and invention. Why did you choose to present your work in this way?Latosik, Jeff

Jeff Latosik: Certainly in the second poem of the book, I used the format and style of a patent to create a somewhat longer poem. A lot of that stuff is, I think, just sort of having this idea (hey, a poem about a patent seems like it might work… has anyone done it in the last few years… no? let’s go!) and then diving in and letting the poem sort of write itself in the discovery of the subject matter, etc.

The question for me eventually became not how to use these kinds of specialized discourses to create poemssomething done quite a bitbut how to stop using them. I can assure you I went entirely too far in trying to conceive of poems from patents, and there are one or two where I probably went too far in the direction of patent as opposed to poem (they aren’t in the book).

Of course, a poem can be anything, but I find that sometimes I know a poem’s not working because it’s trying to lean too hard on some other thing. So, actually, much of the book was in fact trying not to present this work.

 IFOA: This is your second collection of poetry. How do you feel your process has changed since your first?

 Latosik: Okay, I’ll sort of go along with what I’ve said above.

There was a lot more research that went into this book. But I learned something. I learned that, for me, no amount of research gets you into a poem, and—in many ways—the more research I did sometimes the farther away from a poem I got.

I understand this is just my “wiring” (a funny phrase, and probably not worth taking too seriously as much is based on the circumstantial in matters of forming a personality) and that many prefer to see a poem as a kind of trans-disciplinary space. It doesn’t work for me.

IFOA: You previously taught writing at Humber College. What is the most important advice you shared with your students?

865-8_LATOSIK_COMPS.inddLatosik: I might say this: be hard on your lines. I do notice that, often, even the most free-form and associative kind of writing that comes up in a workshop, a writer still wants to do something. It doesn’t have to be I want to write this poem or I think the reader is so-and-so, but they may want the line to have a certain kind of effect, may be thinking of a certain writer when they do, or they may not want a certain kind of confusion to be present.

And actually most writers I wouldn’t even put here; I would say that there’s still an overwhelming desire to put the reader somewhere, have a certain clarity wring through in the poem, structure the poem in a way that brings out its strengths, etc. And these are things that can still, even now, and maybe especially now, be done.

But you have to look at your own poem with the same skepticism you save for others. You have to be open to completely reworking it from the ground up until it works.

IFOA: What daily activity most inspires your work?

Latosik: Taking the bus/streetcar. Even the subway. Just being on a moving vehicle.

Jeff Latosik is the author of Tiny, Frantic, Stronger, a poetry collection that won the 2011 Trillium Award and was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert and Relit awards. His work has been published widely in Canada in magazines such as The Walrus, Maisonneuve and the Literary Review of Canada. He is also the winner of This Magazine’s Great Literary Hunt and the P.K. Page Founder’s Award. He teaches English at the University of Toronto. Latosik presents Safely Home Pacific Western. Using the wily language of patent and invention, this collection peers deep into the notion of personal and communal progress.






























What are you currently reading?


Jack Underwood’s Happiness and A.E. Stallings’ Hapax for poetry.


I’m reading a book called Knowledge and its Limits as well by Timothy Williamson. Williamson got into an interesting discussion/debate with Alex Rosenberg about naturalism (the view that science is the best route to knowledge) in the NYT. I won’t go into it here, but Rosenberg is an interesting thinker whose views have quite provocative implications for the arts and for poetry (and everything else). But he also offers windows into thinking about these pursuits in new ways.

Five Questions with… Denise Mina

Denise Mina, author of Blood, Salt, Water and an upcoming IFOA participant, answered our five questions!

Share this article via Twitter or Facebook for your chance to win two tickets to her event on October 23. Don’t forget to tag @IFOA!

IFOA: Your latest novel, Blood, Salt, Water, comes out this month October. Can you tell us a bit about it?Denise Mina

Denise Mina: It is set in Helensburgh, a small, very beautiful Scottish seaside town. Iain Fraser has killed a woman to pay a debt  but breaths in her last breath. He becomes convinced that her soul is inside him and he will have to make peace with her somehow.

IFOA: You also write for the graphic novel series Hellblazer. How did this come about?

Mina: I read Hellblazer and so when DC Comics contacted me and asked me if I would like to write it, I assumed it was my friends playing a joke. Several swear emails later I realized that it was indeed DC Comics and the offer was real.

IFOA: How would you describe your creative process?

Mina: Chaotic, badly organized, un-eco-friendly and tea-fuelled.

IFOA: Where do you most love to write?Mina, Blood, Salt, Water

Mina:  On airplanes. Not that I do most of my writing on airplanes, but long journeys used to do work feel as if I’m cheating time. It’s delicious. Also, no one can phone or email me when I’m flying.

IFOA: Do you have a favourite crime writer you can recommend to our readers?

Mina: Patricia Highsmith, Christoffer Carlsson, Don Winslow, Ian Rankin, Val McDermidlove them all!

Denise Mina is the author of The Red Road, Gods and Beasts, The Dead Hour and The End of the Wasp Season, among others. She is the recipient of the John Creasey Memorial Award for best first crime novel and the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Mina presents Blood, Salt, Water, the unflinching and masterfully plotted fifth novel in her Alex Morrow series, in which a missing persons case leads the detective to investigate the dark underbelly of a seemingly peaceful seaside town.

Five Questions with… Benjamin Percy

Benjamin Percy, author of The Dead Lands and an upcoming IFOA participant, answered our five questions!

Share this article via Twitter or Facebook for your chance to win two tickets to his October 24 event. Don’t forget to tag @IFOA!

IFOA: What inspired you to write your new novel, a post-apocalyptic re-interpretation of the Lewis and Clark expedition?

Benjamin Percy: I grew up in Oregon, and my mother is a hobby historian obsessed with Lewis and Clark. We visited Fort Clatsop so many times we should have had a punch card. We attended the bicentennial and snapped photos in front of the giant covered wagon. We stopped at historical markers and suffered through impromptu lectures on why the expedition was the greatest adventure story in American history. I read their journals, read Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage. I had a deep well of information to draw from, and originally I thought I might hammer out a non-fiction project.Percy, Benjamin (c) Jennifer Percy

I would recreate their passage—that was the idea—pedaling and paddling and hiking, joined by friends and family. A modern-day adventure. And a reflection on how I grew up, which was rather wild, gifted with a freedom kids don’t have today.

An editor heard about this idea—unofficially, at a bar—and bid on it alongside my novel, Red Moon. I hadn’t up to that point figured out the logistics or really talked it over with my wife. When we crunched the numbers—the time and money it would take—we decided it wasn’t the best choice. My kids were young and I’d have to step away from the teaching position I held at the time.

So I decided to make some stuff up instead.

Historical novels about the Corps of Discovery have been done, and done well, so I decided on a fresh angle. Post-apocalyptic Lewis and Clark. Lewis and Clark 2.0. Which made the story fresh and perilous once more. Not just a story resigned to the archives of history, but a revisionary future in which our nation hangs in the balance.

IFOA: In the event of an actual apocalypse, what would be in your survival kit?

Percy: I could list off the usual suspects—knife, water filter, plant guide, good boots and socks—but that would be boring. So let’s say trampoline, crayons, kittens, Twinkies and bourbon.

IFOA: Do you see similarities between the current state of America and the one described in The Dead Lands?

Percy: I’m always channeling cultural anxieties in my work. You can read The Dead Lands and get caught up in the thrill ride alone. But if you look deeper, you can see a cracked version of our world. Is it about environmental degradation? The swelling divide between the 1% and the rest of the population? American imperialism? Yes.

IFOA: How has your upbringing in the high desert of Oregon influenced your work?

Percy, The Dead LandsPercy: I moved around a lot as a kid, but central Oregon is where I lived longest—on several acres of sage and juniper. That kind of isolation was great training ground for a novelist. I had no one to play with, so I read. Several books a week. And when I wasn’t reading—or doing chores—I was caught up in my imagination, dreaming myself into a knight, a jedi, a cowboy, an adventuring archaeologist.

The high desert backdrop has also influenced the stage of my fiction. So much of it takes place out West. That’s the place I know best. The geography, history, politics, culture, myths. Maybe one day I’ll set a novel in the Midwest, but right now I still feel like I have a tourist’s perspective on the region.

IFOA: What was the best piece of writing you read in the past year?

Percy: Tough one. Maybe A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara or Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I’ll also throw out an endorsement for Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, which I’m re-reading. It’s extraordinarily smart, and its analysis and craft lessons apply to every storyteller, every reader and viewer, no matter if they’ve never read a comic in their life.

Benjamin Percy is the author of the novels Red Moon and The Wilding, and two short story collections, Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk. His writing has appeared in Esquire, GQ, Time and elsewhere. His honours include the Pushcart Prize, an NEA grant, the Plimpton Prize for Fiction and a Whiting Award. Raised in the high desert of central Oregon, he lives in Minnesota. Percy presents his new thriller, The Dead Lands, a post-apocalyptic re-imagining of the Lewis and Clark saga, in which a super flu and nuclear fallout have made a husk of the world we know.


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