5 Questions with Diana Biacora

We asked Diana Biacora five questions about writing as we gear up for the launch of The Unpublished City collection on June 22.

Diana Biacora. Author. The Unpublished City. BookThug. IFOA. IFOA: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Diana Biacora: I draw inspiration from anything that sparks my interest from real life.

From everything I see, touch, taste, smell and hear.

I particularly enjoy drawing inspiration from my travels, and the observations and experiences I’ve had in other parts of the world. Experiences that are new, foreign and unfamiliar.

IFOA: What’s the story that you have to write no matter what (at some point in your life)?

Biacora: I think we all have several stories that we have to write at different stages in our lives. Sometimes the stories come out immediately, other times it’s years after. No matter what, they are always there. It’s a matter of timing, listening to ourselves and being open.

The story that I have to write right now is about two childhood friends.

IFOA: Where do you write? Is there a specific place you do your writing?

Biacora: I have a room with a desk and a big window with lots of plants. Sometimes I write in coffee shops, in public libraries and my backyard.

IFOA: If you could ask your favourite author a question, what would it be?

Biacora: I’m always interested in the process and the different ways in which all artists conceptualize their ideas into something physical and concrete such as a novel, a poem, a play, or a painting. I’m fascinated by different approaches and practices for my own growth and learning as an artist.

IFOA: What are you writing now?

Biacora: I’m writing a piece that will hopefully turn into a novel. It’s about the childhood friendship between two girls.


Diana Biacora is a first year MFA student in the University of Guelph’s Creative Writing program. She writes fiction and non-fiction. She lives and writes in Toronto.

Biacora is one of the authors featured in The Unpublished City: a collection of works by Toronto’s emerging literary talents. IFOA and BookThug invite you to the collection’s release on June 22 at 7:30 PM as part of the Toronto Lit Up book launch series.

For more information, click here!

5 Questions with Nadia Ragbar

We asked Nadia Ragbar five questions about writing as we gear up for the launch of The Unpublished City collection on June 22.

Nadia Ragbar. Author. The Unpublished City. BookThug. IFOA.IFOA: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Nadia Ragbar: It all comes through observation, both in the world around me, but also in keenly observing my own feelings and internal tensions in response to what I’m seeing or thinking.

I am inspired to physically sit and write when I have witnessed that lovely, bubbling creative spark in other people’s work and art.

IFOA: What’s the story that you have to write no matter what (at some point in your life)?

Ragbar: The story I most need to finish no matter what is the manuscript I’m currently working on. It’s the first novel I’ve ever written and I absolutely have to see it to completion before I die. Or else.

Also, I think I might need to write a screenplay for a teen comedy.

IFOA: Where do you write? Is there a specific place you do your writing?

Ragbar: I write at home, toggling between pen and paper, and on the computer. Writing by hand helps me get a shape out, but typing with both hands helps me write faster, and get more complex thoughts and sentences out.

I also have a weekly writing date with a good friend at a coffee shop. I never thought I’d be able to write in public, but these meetings have been really productive and I got over my self-consciousness when I saw everyone else in there frantically Dear Diary-ing, as well.

IFOA: If you could ask your favourite author a question, what would it be?

Ragbar: I would ask any career writer how they managed to balance between being a dreamer in their heads and being a realist in the world, at the very starts of their careers. I have a hard time keeping a foot in both.

Toni Morrison, three practical tips, maybe?

IFOA: What are you writing now?

Ragbar: I’m revising a draft of a novel manuscript about conjoined twins. The more dominant twin is a boxer, and the other a bookkeeper who hates boxing and secretly wants to separate. It’s a story about belonging, loss, compromise and connection. Ultimately, it’s a story about family, and finding your unique place in it and in the world.


Nadia Ragbar‘s work has appeared in Broken Pencil, Echolocation, Dragnet Magazine, and The Glass Coin. She lives in Toronto.

Islam is one of the authors featured in The Unpublished City: a collection of works by Toronto’s emerging literary talents. IFOA and BookThug invite you to the collection’s release on June 22 at 7:30 PM as part of the Toronto Lit Up book launch series.

For more information, click here!

5 Questions with Ian Kamau

We asked Ian Kamau five questions about writing as we gear up for the launch of The Unpublished City collection on June 22.

Ian Kamau. Author. The Unpublished City. BookThug. IFOA. IFOA: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Ian Kamau: Everyday life and memory. The smallest things. Moments. A feeling.

IFOA: What’s the story that you have to write no matter what (at some point in your life)?

Kamau: I am writing the history of my family in combination with my present.

IFOA: Where do you write? Is there a specific place you do your writing?

Kamau: Somewhere quiet. In private, in public, on paper, on a phone.

IFOA: If you could ask your favourite author a question, what would it be?

Kamau: How did you keep going? What have you lost because of your work?

IFOA: What are you writing now?

Kamau: A story about my father and I. Stories about my neighbourhood. Stories about my inner world.


Ian Kamau is a writer, music maker and designer; an artist who believes in the pursuit of actualization, especially by marginalized individuals and groups. He is interested in exploring the value of art to society. Born and raised in Esplanade—a neighbourhood in downtown Toronto—to Trinidadian parents who immigrated to Canada in the 1970s. His parents are documentary filmmakers; his mother a producer, his father a writer and director. He grew up around ideas, social movements, education and all forms of creativity.

Kamau is one of the authors featured in The Unpublished City: a collection of works by Toronto’s emerging literary talents. IFOA and BookThug invite you to the collection’s release on June 22 at 7:30 PM as part of the Toronto Lit Up book launch series.

For more information, click here!

5 Questions with David Bradford

We asked David Bradford five questions about writing as we gear up for the launch of The Unpublished City collection on June 22.

David Bradford. Author. The Unpublished City. BookThug. IFOA. IFOA: Why do you write?

David Bradford: I think Elizabeth Gilbert once said she writes because otherwise, she’d chew her own arm off; or something like that. There’s too much in here, and I need to channel it through something kind of healthy and writing has worked out in that regard.

But beyond that, my writing comes from the same urge behind most repetitions (mine anyway): to convince that the way I think is real.

IFOA: What are some of the themes that you explore in your writing? Why

Bradford: I really value just doing the day in, day out practice thing, and I’m happiest just following my more reflexive readings within it.

However, my work often deals in the fleshiness of words invested in what I think of as a non-linguistic end (i.e., making any sense of things), and the faith built into and out of that. That is, some things cannot be known, or explained. But then we all put words to them anyway. Words are slippery from the get-go, but we still go about trying to be known by them.

If there’s a place I return to, it’s the life that comes out of performing, that largely unresolvable discrepancy; the frontispiece liminality of any practice, to me, worth its salt. Within that scope, themes I return to include complications of identities, partnerships and totalizing cultural spaces.

IFOA: What are some of the genre you explore in your work?

Bradford: I primarily write poetry, but I’ve also grown into playing with lyrical essay and new narrative elements in my work. For instance, an upcoming chapbook of mine with Blank Cheque Press is a winding, gushing monograph about novelist Nell Zink.

IFOA: Who is your favourite author, poet or writer?

Bradford: My favourite poet as a reader right now: Allison Titus. My favourite poet as a poet: maybe Mary Ruefle or Fred Moten.

IFOA: What inspires you?

Bradford: I’m currently working on finishing up a shape-shifty poetry manuscript concerned with what the various strategies for making sense of the world via something as contrary to it as poetry may look like. It’s something like my attempt at a personal ontology of uncertainties. It deals in trauma, totalities of knowledge, community, and sex. It’s all over the place.


David Bradford is an MFA candidate at the University of Guelph and leads the Slo-Po group reading series. His work has appeared in a variety of places, including Lemon Hound and Prairie Fire, and his latest chapbook, Call Out (Knife|Fork|Book), is forthcoming in 2017.

Bradford is one of the authors featured in The Unpublished City: a collection of works by Toronto’s emerging literary talents. IFOA and BookThug invite you to the collection’s release on June 22 at 7:30 PM as part of the Toronto Lit Up book launch series.

For more information, click here!

5 Questions with Canisia Lubrin

We asked Canisia Lubrin five questions about writing as we gear up for the launch of The Unpublished City collection on June 22.

Canisia Lubrin. Author. The Unpublished City. BookThug. IFOA.IFOA: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Canisia Lubrin: Staying curious and open to “inspiration” from anywhere is important to me. I suppose this means that I value how the facts of life, things as they are—imperfect, worthy, enervating, senseless, the full range—offer an abundance of descriptive impulses that send me slipping into many imaginary spaces.

Once I can recognize a descriptive escape-route into a subject, I will follow nearly every clue down its road, usually the more challenging the better.

IFOA: What’s the story that you have to write no matter what (at some point in your life)?

Lubrin: Stories that I end up writing are carried around with me until I can feel and trust their wholeness. In that sense, the story isn’t named and claimed until I write some draft of it. Some doubt in me—as much as I’d like to offer an absolute answer—toward the very act of naming and claiming that very thing is keeping me from offering a more concrete response.

I’d like to think that every story I write is part of the larger “story” that I absolutely must tell. Perhaps I’m just doing so interstitially because of the forms of storytelling that currently exist. I’d offer that each part of that story is given its own name and identity, much the same way as the arm’s identity differs from that of the head and torso even though these are all parts, ostensibly, of the same body.

IFOA: Where do you write? Is there a specific place you do your writing?

Lubrin: I think I can write almost anywhere as long as the space isn’t moving. I suffer terrible motion sickness. I’m always after the feeling though. Feeling that lets me break into a heightened attention to the craft and the subject of the work. Place can do that for me but not always. What is clear is that my intention is rarely ever a big factor: I may want to spend an hour in the forest or by the river or in an alley or on the beach because I feel something of the place will open up a kind of knowing in me.

But, more and more, I am learning to trust that my impulses and motivations for writing rarely ever come from a place of knowing, but from my need to question things that confound me. I’m after discovery.

IFOA: If you could ask your favourite author a question, what would it be?

Lubrin: What is the one thing you know now that you wished you knew when you first started writing?

IFOA: What are you writing now?

Lubrin: There’s no shortage of writing for me right now: I’ve just finished editing my first poetry collection and my first novel as well as a collection of short stories currently take up most of my writing time.


Canisia Lubrin serves on the editorial board of the Humber Literary Review and on the advisory board of the Ontario Book Publishers Organization. She completed an MFA in fiction at Guelph-Humber and is the author of the poetry collection, Voodoo Hypothesis, forthcoming this fall from Wolsak & Wynn.

Lubrin is one of the authors featured in The Unpublished City: a collection of works by Toronto’s emerging literary talents. IFOA and BookThug invite you to the collection’s release on June 22 at 7:30 PM as part of the Toronto Lit Up book launch series.

For more information, click here!

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