Lit Jam

Get ready for the first ever Lit Jam this February 1st at Harbourfront Centre.

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You’re probably thinking, what is Lit Jam? It is a storytelling game show-esque hybrid event where four teams of emerging writers from the province’s top creative writing programs compete for a cash prize by improvising a story on stage! In addition to a cash prize the winners will have their story published online in NOW Toronto.

Here’s how it works:

We ask the public to submit a one sentence story prompt online using #LitJam or upon arrival at the event.

One representative from each team of students from the Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts, Ryerson University, the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto will choose their order.

Each team of students from the University of Guelph Creative Writing MFAHumber School of Creative and Performing Arts, Ryerson University and the University of Toronto will have five minutes on stage to create and perform the story before your eyes.

Our team of judges, Danila Botha, Joseph Kertes and Shari Lapena will choose the winning team with the help of the audience.

The winning team will receive a cash prize and their story will be published in NOW Magazine online.

Already have ideas of opening sentences for our contestants? Send your story prompts to us by email to media@ifoa.org with subject line Lit Jam, post them to the Facebook event or tweet @ifoa using #LitJam.

We hope you will join us for this interactive night of storytelling!

 

 

Co-presenting Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

IFOA is pleased to partner with Toronto’s beloved Hot Docs Cinema to co-present Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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Uncover the incredible story of Gabriel García Márquez, winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature and author of deservedly celebrated classics including 100 Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. A law-school dropout and political journalist who grew up in the poverty and violence of northern Colombia, García Márquez became globally celebrated for his sensual, magical and epic work. Former US president Bill Clinton, former Colombian president César Gaviria and more are among interviewees celebrating his legacy in this breathtaking doc. “What matters in life is not what happens to you,” said García Márquez, “But what you remember and how you remember it.”

The event includes a post-screening Skype Q&A with director Justin Webster. We encourage you to join us for this screening. Watch Twitter and Facebook for ticket giveaways!

SUN, JAN 29, 11:00 AM

For more details visit: http://ow.ly/8uGS307ILKE

Five Questions with Deb Loughead

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Deb Loughead is the author of more than thirty books for children and young adults, ranging from poetry and plays to picture books and novels. IFOA has asked her to talk about her inspiration, new work and how stories define us!

Join us on December 14 for Toronto Lit Up and celebrate her new work!

IFOA: In your bio you mention that you have kept everything you have ever written. How do you feel when you go back and re-read your work?

Deb: I would have to say both nostalgic and satisfied.  Nostalgic, because it’s an opportunity to revisit my childhood and my tween-hood.  I began writing poetry at about age ten and stories shortly afterwards.  My mother always read to me and told me stories so I was fascinated with words, maybe even obsessed, from an early age. I see a natural progression, a little girl who lived in her imagination and daydreamed constantly.  And put it all down in words. I can also see that it was inevitable that I would become a writer, from the very first story I ever wrote, “A Narrow Escape for a Mouse”, which I always read to students on school visits.

IFOA: What is the most exciting and the most difficult thing when you write for children and young adults?

Deb: The exciting part is creating credible characters that young readers can relate to and identify with.  I write contemporary realistic fiction so it is also a challenge to keep it current, and to imagine and capture their environment of home and school and friendships. Perhaps my readers will see themselves and some of their own problems in the dilemmas my characters have been faced with. There is never a perfect ending in my stories, but there are answers and solutions that I hope they can take away with them and apply to their own lives.  Often the difficult part is coming up with the premise that I hope will work. I don’t plot my stories in advance, so there are times when I have no idea where a twisting plot-line will lead me, and I’m usually pleasantly surprised when I get there. I hope my readers will be as well.

IFOA: In your bio you also ask yourself if the stories that we carry around with us make us who we are. Do they? If yes, can we ever change our narrative, can we change who we are?

loughead-the-secret-we-keepDeb: Every event in our life, every situation we experience becomes a part of the narrative of our lives.  These are our life stories, this is what shapes us, the good, the bad, the happy and the sad of it. For example, I grew up on my mother’s stories, of her childhood, her young adulthood, her life as a teacher, wife and young mother.  She is a great storyteller and always willing to share. I learned who she was because of the stories that shaped her life. I’ve developed a clearer understanding of who she is now, because I know who she was so long ago. I believe that who she is must be innate. But it’s how she reacted to and dealt with every event in her life that determined the outcome. I don’t think we can change who we are. That would probably take a lot of psychotherapy, probably to no avail! Like that saying “a leopard can’t change its spots.” But I think that every opportunity in life offers the possibility to create a new narrative and to enrich yourself no matter who you are.

IFOA: What inspired you to write The Secrets We Keep?

Deb: Believe it or not, a question and answer in an advice column in the Toronto Star. And asking myself ‘what if’!

IFOA: What is most important for the characters in the book, the truth or the secret?

Deb: Learning the truth was vital to Clem and her friends. It was the only way they could find closure and move forward. But keeping the secret was even more crucial by the end of the novel. If the secret were to be revealed to Kit’s family, they knew it would open old wounds and delay their finding a measure of closure themselves. So keeping the secret is essential for the sake of the Stitski family.

The secret is the bond that the four of them share.  They are all aware that they are connected by the role that each of them played leading up to Kit’s death ‘by misadventure’. I think Clem pretty much sums it up in the second last paragraph.  Sometimes keeping secrets is imperative ‘Not just to protect ourselves, but to protect the other people in our circle of family and friends who could be even more damaged by them than we are.’

Holiday Book Buying Guide

We are always excited to recommend books, especially around the holiday season. A book is the perfect customized gift. There truly is something for everyone. Check out our staff recommendations for the book nerds, literati and hard-to-shop-for loved ones on your list!

All signed Festival titles are currently on sale at the Harbourfront Centre Shop. Hurry in to receive 15%-20% discounts on books!

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For the #CanLit lover you can’t go wrong with an award winner like Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

For the goof in the family or group of friends consider When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris.

For young nieces and nephews or young-at-heart list-makers check out The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julia Sarda.

For those who love to get cozy with a cup of tea by the fireside The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a great choice.

For the impossible to shop for preteen girl Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris is perfect.

For your younger brother that’s home for the holidays try City of Thieves by David Benioff.

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For the little ones that love bedtime stories Toronto ABC and Canada ABC by Paul Covello or Fox and Squirrel The Best Christmas Ever by Ruth Ohi

For the proud Torontonians (#ReadtheNorth!) check out a a classic like In The Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondatjee or Michael Helm’s Cities of Refuge.

For those with a curious mind and an out-of-the-box perception of the world pick up Anosh Irani’s The Parcel.

For the historian in your life definitely buy The Promise of Canada by Charlotte Gray.

For the lover of politics, who may need a break from talking about the US Election, they need Nathan Hill’s The Nix.

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For the children who ran out of fables to read The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig written by Eugene Trivizas is your best bet.

For the kid who can’t give up Halloween quite yet try Haunted Canada 6 by John Sutherland.

For your friend with the serious Gilmore Girls obsession turn off the TV and give them Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham.

For the musician offer up School of Velocity by Eric Beck Rubin.

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For your mother in law who loves Canada Jane Urquhart’s A Number of Things is our go-to.

For graphic novel readers experiencing some wanderlust check out Burts Way Home by John Martz.

For the naturopath in your group of friends The Naturalist by Alissa York seems appropriate.

For the family member who appreciates dark comedy Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is sure to be a bestseller.
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For the Shakespeare aficionado, Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed because it is based on The Tempest.

For your crime-fiction loving parents Peter Robinson’s When The Music’s Over is a great choice.

For grandma who only reads historical fiction give her Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder.

For your technology-obsessed boyfriend The Four-Dimensional Human by Laurence Scott is fool-proof.

For sci-fi fans check out Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.

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